As the holidays near, I always begin to panic. Not about putting up decorations or hosting a holiday meal, but about having an influx of gifts in the house, which ultimately create more clutter and often go unused. Each year, I try to take a step back and come up with a list of gifts that my children will both love and have an opportunity to learn from.
I turn first to “experience gifts,” gifts that cannot be wrapped. Memberships to the zoo, museums, dance classes, or local community centers all offer opportunities for physical activity paired with education. Gift certificates to bowling alleys, tennis clubs and swimming pools again encourage family outings, and build both memories and muscles.
As a mother, I do appreciate the importance of having fun things to unwrap as well. I love stuffing the stockings full of gifts that promote fine motor development: Wikki Stix, sidewalk chalk, beads to string and paint sets. For presents that take more paper to wrap, consider shopping for items that address gross motor development: scooter boards, golf clubs, balance beams, soccer ball and cones. Board games are always a great option for encouraging family bonding time while also working on fine and gross motor skills. Some examples include Hullabaloo, Twister, and Cranium.
Pooling funds is also an excellent idea for the holidays! Access to technology can be fun and educational, but often very expensive. Asking grandparents and other relatives for gift cards to Apple or Microsoft can allow your kids to purchase big ticket items (especially after the holidays when sales can make these items more affordable).
Many of the unique items I mentioned are available online. Check out these family favorites:
Courtney Dunn, PT, DPT