Christmas is coming….. 10 alternative ideas, for children, to save your sanity.

Christmas is coming. You know that wonderful time of year when families get together and enjoy a lovely dinner, sit around the lounge opening presents and exchanging best wishes?

It’s also that time of year that many parents start to go just a little bit more crazy than normal. That time of year when they dread that burning question from Grannies, Grandads, Aunties, Uncles etc etc etc…..

“What would the children like for Christmas?”

I shudder every time I am asked this because it normally takes us the best part of the previous year to decide what to get them from us! There are so many factors to take into consideration and you often aren’t given this information. Things like budget, ease of transport (if the donor lives a distance away), satisfaction – from both sides – would a grandparent be happy giving a scarf set for example as little Freddie needs one but it isn’t as sparkly-eye-creating as maybe a huge Playmobil set but needs are greater than desire.

This year I have been thinking. I have done some reading, I have seen some great ideas and I’ve seen some not so great ones. Hopefully here are a handful of good ones that won’t break the bank…..too much.

1) Build-A-Bear-Workshop.
Now whilst you may need a small mortgage the first time you go in there BABW are great for a starter present. Your gorgeous little munchkin gets to choose their bear (or other such creature), pick a heart and maybe a sound, help to stuff the bear to a floppiness that is suitable for their cuddling and even get to give it a name WITH A BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!! And this I where it gets good…… you can buy an outfit for almost every occasion you can think of – and probably some you can’t. This means that subsequent birthdays and Christmases you can purchase a new outfit for them to wear. The good thing is these bears don’t outgrow their outfits so they can simply increase their wardrobe contents….. you can even buy the wardrobe! Thus far my three munchkins (aged now between 4 & 8) love getting new outfits and are often caught having a BABW party and dressing them up.

2) Adopting an animal.
Some zoos, sanctuaries and wildlife venues allow the option to adopt an animal and some of them include an annual season ticket so you can go to visit your adopted creature. This is a year of days out to go and visit your new “family member” and lots of family time. The good thing about this idea is that you can renew it for the forthcoming years….. that’s the next decade sorted then. 😀

3) Annual Passes.

Many venues offer annual season passes and these can vary greatly in price dependant on what the attraction is. Similar to adopting an animal it offers access to the attraction throughout the year and,  if you get the right attraction, it is a year of joy as children love to get the chance to go out on an adventure. If you can’t find one attraction why not consider National Trust Membership that can be used throughout the Country. Again this is a present that can be renewed for next year’s presents.

4) Magazine subscriptions.

These days you can get magazines for almost any subject and for any age….. Dr Who, CBeebies, various hobbies….. and this would be the perfect opportunity for them to get a present every week/fortnight/month depending upon the publication. Admit it – who doesn’t like receiving goodies in the post so imagine their faces when they get post – just for them. Even more of a present. And again – you can renew it each year.

5) Creative Ideas.

Encourage their creative side by getting some art packs. Depending on the age you can get branded, themed items from people like Mr Maker or you can get more generic sets that allow imaginations to run wild. Easily purchased from places like The Range, Hobbycraft or several local craft shops and can bring months of joy, fun and productivity.

6) Name a Star.

How awesome would it be to be able to point up into the sky and say “there is a star up there with your name” – and have the co-ordinates to actually pin point it. A gift for a life time and it encourages looking up at the wonders of the night sky – something we often miss the chance to do.

7) Cooking parties.

Some restaurants run “create your own” and they can be lots of fun. An example of this is Pizza Express where they get to create their own pizza from scratch from about £11.95. Great fun and a skill learnt at the same time.

8) Books.

Buy the first in a series of books suitable for their age and then give them some vouchers to get the next ones. They get the joys of actually going and buying the books and a present that they can go back to time and again. Places like Waterstone’s also have loyalty cards so they can earn points as they go.

9) Gardening.

You can get some brilliant starter kits aimed at children and there is something special in the eyes of a child when the seeds first pop their head through the soil, the flowers start opening or they get to eat the results of their labour. Start them off with a child’s greenhouse that doesn’t take up too much room and you can start straight away.

10) A Camera and a Photo Album.

You don’t have to spend loads on a camera but getting a cheap and cheerful digital camera that your young people can upload and print the pictures off and create a journal of their year. Great for building memories and opening eyes to the world around them.

Have a great, stress-free Christmas and hopefully there is something above that helps to keep your sanity levels fairly intact.

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