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The Best Gifts That Encourage Family Time

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Photo by:  Jamie Davis Smith

When it comes to gift-giving, kids tend to ask for gifts that they will enjoy but there are plenty of options that encourage families to spend time together. Best of all, most are tech-free and can work for tots through tweens.

Games: Games are a classic gift for good reason. There are games for all ages, stages, and interests so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that everyone in the family enjoys. Melissa & Doug has a new line of wooden games from checkers to parchisi to chess New games like MoMos Shanghai Rummy is a fun version of a family game created a generation ago that can now be enjoyed by everyone. Tattoo Stories is a creative, fast-paced game where each artist has to draw a tattoo based on the cards they draw. Tenzi is dice game that is quickly becoming a must-have because there are so many ways to play that your family is bound to find a version everyone likes. For a 3-D challenge, try Rubik’s Cage, a head-to-head challenge that will bring adults back to the days of trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while introducing kids to the concept of Rubik in an entirely new way. Cooperative games like Heist: One Team, One Mission encourage families to work together. In Heist, players choose a role like explosives expert, hacker, money Man or lookout and try to crack the safe without tripping the alarm. Younger kids will enjoy simpler cooperative games like Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found it or Busy, Busy Airport that are great for families with toddlers. Card games like Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? encourage families to dig deep and get to know one another with the 500 included questions.

Bikes: Old-fashioned bike riding will never go out of style. Biking in the alley, down to the ice cream shop, or just around the block is a great way to spend time together as a family and a great opportunity to teach kids skills they will have for the rest of their lives. Classic bikes like the Schwinn Ranger and Schwinn Signature Fremont exclusive to DICK’s are fantastic choices to take you anywhere your family likes to ride. The Ranger will last long enough to be passed to at least a couple of kids and has 21 gears to make it good for riding on all types of terrain. Does your family need too much stuff to comfortably bike? Don’t worry –Thule Shield Pannier bags come in small and large sizes to haul whatever you need for a family bike ride. Included straps mean you can carry your pannier if the kids insist on going by foot for part of the journey. Need a way to get your bikes to the trails? The Gateway 3 is perfect for bringing bikes for the family on the road.

Scooters: Electric scooters are taking over transportation everywhere to address the problem of the “last mile.” Kids have noted this trend and, not surprisingly, have started to request electric scooters of their very own. Swagtron makes a range of electric scooters not just for adults, but for tots through tweens that require a range of skill and encompass a range of speeds. Scootering is a new, and super-fun, way to bond as a family.

Art: Nearly all children and adults love to create. That makes art supplies a great gift. Try gifting your child paints and paper, gel pens, or pre-packaged project kits that include everything needed to make mock stained glass, a piggy bank, or a wand. If you wanted to create something meaningful look at Stars of Hope to create beautiful stars that can be sent to communities following disaster, such as tornedos or mass shootings to create public art installations. Although it is more of an investment, a Circuit cutting machine is a great way to bond with a child while making crafts that can be used and will last, such as personalized mugs, hats, and shirts and bags that can be made with infusible ink. The Kids Book of Paper Love is filled with beautiful paper and project suggestions that can be done as a family. Or, stock up supplies like gel pens and sketch books like those from Ooly that even come in pretty gift packs for the holidays.

Creative Play: Different parent/child combination enjoy different activities. Think about everything your child loves then think about what you love too. Maybe it’s dress-up. It could be Barbies or playing with a toy kitchen. Or, go for a lemonade stand that can be used indoors or even brought outside to run an eye-catching real lemonade stand on a nice day for a memorable afternoon. There is no right or wrong answer here other than to find something that you both enjoy.

Puzzles: Getting the family around the table to complete a puzzle makes for a fun night (or two) of family togetherness. Puzzles come in just about every theme, from Paris to Disney Villains. Younger kids can get started with jigsaw puzzles with fewer pieces, from 12 to 150, that are more manageable for their skill and attention span.

Books: Reading together is a bedtime ritual for many families. There are plenty of options for picture books for younger kids and the holidays are a perfect opportunity to restock with some great books that came out over the past year. Older kids still love being read to or snuggling up to a parent reading together.

Hitting Balls: Enjoy America’s favorite pastime with an affordable, kid-friendly pitching machine from iPlayiLearn with a remote control. It’s a great way for kids and their grown-ups to perfect their batting skills. Plus, it also comes with a racket so the family can also practice tennis.

Cooking: Many families spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Get kids involved with this set from Kiddoz that includes a kid-friendly cookbook and clever system that uses color-coded measuring cups and characters that is a great way for kids to build their confidence in the kitchen while having fun. Or, for a twist check out this Foodie Surprise Food Carts kit where grown-ups and kids make their own gummy sweets and everything you need is included in the box. Or, have s’mores anytime with this small but mighty indoor/outdoor S’mores Maker from Chicago Metallic. It’s the perfect size for gathering the family around a (steno) fire anytime of the year in any weather.

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