Not Your Average Gift List…
I was going to start off this post with a quote from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but all of the ones I could think of were vastly inappropriate for an elementary school blog. So, you’re spared my Cousin Eddie ramblings and we’ll just jump right in to this post!
My children have had their Christmas lists done since oh…… mid November. I love their excitement when the Target toy ad comes in the mail, but the things they typically select are flashy toys or stuffed animals. (WHY with the stuffed animals?!) They will play with these new things for a day or two MAX, then toss them aside in favor of the toys/activities they actually love.
So, while I don’t want to squash their excitement for Santa bringing them a few new things, this year we’re trying to find a good balance between the things on their lists, and the memorable experiences we want them to have. So, with that in mind, here is a unique list of gift ideas for your littles ones!
Flora and Fauna
- Adopt/Sponsor an animal- Before you say NO PUPPY! Let me clarify that I’m talking about a wild or endangered animal. When I was growing up, a family friend gifted me a sponsorship of a humpback whale named Cloud. It was a great experience to read the materials they would send each month, and track the whale’s movements in the world. There are manatees, whales, elephants, basically every animal you can think of, to sponsor.
- Membership to the local zoo or park- In St. Augustine, we have the Alligator Farm and the Jacksonville Zoo is only an hour away.
- Explore your local state parks- We have so many beautiful springs and state parks, just waiting to be explored. This website is a great resource for Florida’s state parks. Plan a trip to one (or more!), pack your walking shoes and go find some flora and fauna!
- Tickets or season passes to a sporting event- There are so many options! The Jumbo Shrimp, the Jaguars, the Sharks, and the Icemen are all just up the road in Jacksonville.
- Tickets to a show- This can be a favorite band, a play, a ballet, the circus, or an ice skating event. There are so many options! My children are into the Wild Kratts TV show on PBS, and their live show is coming to Jacksonville in the spring. Tickets to that show will be under our tree for sure!
- Plan a monthly date- This one takes some pre-planning and it’s a commitment, but hear me out. We can buy our children everything under the sun, but at the end of the day, what they truly want is to hang out with us. Plan out on a calendar what day each month you’ll have your date, and what activity you’ll be doing. This can be as big or as small as you want, and depends on what your child likes to do. July 21st is National Ice Cream Day, so a trip to the local ice cream parlor could be that month’s date, for example. The key with this gift is to make the plans in advance, and stick to them!
- Create a new family tradition- This one is fun because it can be customized based on the things your family already likes. You could start a standing family game night once a month, and gift your kids a couple new games or puzzles to get it started. You could create a family challenge to try and then rank every single dessert spot in the whole town. A restaurant journal wrapped up under the tree will keep the official ranking records. (Or try every sushi restaurant. Every breakfast spot. Every chicken wing place. Seek out the best macaroni and cheese. You get the idea.)
- Magazine subscriptions- Who remembers Ranger Rick magazine? Well, it’s still out there. So is Highlights magazine, National Geographic Kids, Humpty Dumpty, Ladybug and Sports Illustrated Kids among others. Who doesn’t love getting mail? I would read these magazines if they came in the mail… mail that isn’t a bill? I’m in!
- Movie Night Kit- Take this beyond just wrapping up a new DVD; make an event out of it! Wrap up the movie with a kit of their favorite candy, some popcorn, a new blanket or sleeping bag, matching PJs, a unique soda flavor or fun new cup, the whole shebang.
- Instant Camera and scrap book- Our phones are everything these days: cameras, videocameras, calendars, internet, address book. Wouldn’t it be nice to take it back to analog and give your children the gift of shaking it like a polaroid picture? (Except you’re not, apparently, supposed to shake a Polaroid, FYI.) You will definitely have to have a talk about not snapping 27 pictures in a row of their feet, as my children do with my cell phone camera, but I trust they will get the hang of it. Then take it one step further with a scrapbook, or scrapbooking supplies so they can get creative with (gasp!) actual printed pics!
I hope this list has gotten your wheels turning for some unique Christmas gifts. I can assure you, that after all the excitement of the holidays is over and the new toys have run out of batteries, these experiences with your children will be the things they remember. After all, time is the most valuable gift we can give! What awesome gift ideas did I miss? I want to hear your great ideas and suggestions. Visit us on social @islandprep and leave us a comment!
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