*This is the second post in the “Not-A-Gift-Guide” blog series. To see the first post that introduces the idea of principle-based gift giving for Christmas, click here, or sign up for the entire series here.*
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As I’ve considered the principles that are most important to our family, family time tops the list. For that reason, for Christmas we try to focus on gifts that involve several people and avoid gifts that isolate us. For example, we have deliberately decided to not put computers, TVs or other electronics in bedrooms (for many reasons). One of those reasons is that we have noticed that it is too easy to withdraw into separate corners of the house on various devices.
In contrast, we have tried to come up with ideas for activities that are best done in a group. We want to promote healthy family time and also have fun activities for our kids to do with their friends. These gifts range in cost, but here are some things that our family has enjoyed.
Indoor Gift Ideas
Games: Whether it is a board game or a card game, we try to play games every Sunday and on other days when there is downtime.
Fort Magic: This is the BEST fort kit, ever! We have had ours for years, and several friends and family members have gotten one after seeing it. So, so fun! The cousins ADORE using this and everyone uses their imagination for HOURS! The fort can be HUGE, or it also comes with a booklet with ideas for how to make a boat, or a spaceship or anything else. I recommend this 5 million times over!
Pool table, Foosball, Air Hockey or Ping Pong: these types of games really draw in teens and tweens. Fast pick up games or longer competitions are a blast!
Find a cool class to take together: Learn how to make Gourmet Caramel Apples (my fav), HAM radio, martial arts, painting, computer programming…whatever you want! Thanks to the internet, we have a lot of really great options!
Outdoor Gift Ideas
Pick a hobby- any hobby! Find something that resonates with your family and make it a tradition! Here are just a few ideas. Sometimes they can get a bit pricey, but we like to shop on Craigslist, eBay, etc. to make it more affordable.
Bikes: I know, most kids probably have a bike already. But does EVERYONE in the family have a bike? Make sure parents have one too, and as part of a family gift, plan several cool bikes rides together.
Rock Climbing equipment: We have accumulated rock climbing gear here and there, but one year we decided to fill the holes and complete our set of equipment so we could accommodate all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. We wanted to have a complete set of harnesses, shoes, ropes, a grigri, etc. (If you do not have experience with this, please take local classes to make sure you understand how to be safe.)
I’m not going to lie- I get about 8 feet off the ground and that’s it. But my kids can go 30-50 feet up! What an empowering gift: they learn how to be safe, tie important knots, and rappelling and climbing are both great wilderness skills to have. They feel amazing as they look up at a rock face they both climbed and rappelled! This is a fantastic way to get outdoors and cheer each other on! We go as a family and take a picnic and lots of snacks.
Paintball: Again, we have collected equipment throughout the years, but one year we filled out the collection, so we could have 8 players at a time. I’m not a paintballer, but teenage boys love it! It’s a great activity where my boys can invite their friends to join them, and my husband can be the “cool dad” that goes with them, provides equipment and makes it all fun.
Camping: One year we got a popup tent trailer. And we have used it again and again and again. We go camping FAR more often than we would otherwise, we are more comfortable when we DO go camping, and although it’s nothing glamorous (we got an older, second hand model)…we love it!
Obviously, what works for my family might not work for yours. But I hope that these ideas were helpful in jump-starting some ideas that WILL work for your family.
Next up: Developing Skills and Creativity! But first: