Help for the Holiday Hmm’s
If your life is anything like mine near the holidays, it’ll probably sound a little like this: “Mom, can I get that for Christmas?” “I’ll put it on your wish list honey.” As the next commercial comes on, “Mom can I get that for Christmas?” “That does look like fun. I’ll put it on your wish list.” The television, newspapers, and billboards are inundated with advertisements for all the hot toys and gadgets for this year. As parents, aunts or uncles, and grandparents, it can be very overwhelming to know what gifts to buy that will be both fun and “educational.” Knowing what gifts will be best for our children – that they’ll enjoy – leave many of us going “hmmm.”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for all children:
- Television, movies, and video games can be nice for some relaxing times, but should be limited. I read in a recent study that the average child watches 50-60 hours of television a week! As a result, children are being negatively impacted, including increased aggression and decreased attention; plus other negative side affects such as robbing the mind of important things like reading, writing, creative play and story telling, friendship development and so much more.
- Board games can be a wonderful way to help children learn important lessons such as taking turns, graciously winning and losing, and team work. This is also a great way to encourage family time. One of my greatest memories as a child is sitting downstairs with my family, by the wood burner, playing the game of LIFE.
- Arts and Crafts are a great way to encourage creativity. It also develops fine motor skills, building of competence, and doing things for others. My children love to make things for other people and feel great about doing it!
- Building sets of blocks, WEDGiTS, or LEGO’s are also great gifts that encourage creativity, playing with others, or self play. There are so many things you can do with these sorts of things. Kids love to build fences for their animals, castles, or event cities with any building materials they can find.
We’ve been creating a list at Horizons of both family and consultant favorites. Here’s my top ten list for this holiday season:
- WEDGiTS – These have been suggested by a couple of Horizon’s families, and have very good online ratings. They are wonderful for kids of all ages: even small children can easily use them, and older children love to build with them.
- Ned’s Head – This is a fun and grotesque game that boys especially will love. Reach into Ned’s Head and see what you pull out! This is a great opportunity to build anticipation, and share what you’ve found. A nice variation to this game is Gassy Gus. As I was searching the Internet on these two games, I found Alfredo’s Food Fight. If your child is resistant to new foods, this may be a fun way to decrease the anxiety of food by using it to fling at “Alfredo.”
- Model Cars – Building a model car or other item can be a lot of fun. It’s something that you can work on together, and what a great accomplishment when its all done!
- Stickers – There are so many kinds of stickers these days including my favorite – foam shapes. Kids have fun creating all kinds of original pictures, or just sticking them on paper. Use them to decorate hats, identify your cup at holiday parties, or make your own Christmas cards.
- UNO – This is a wonderful card game for kids of all ages with several different game options available. If you already own the basic game of UNO, try UNO Attack or UNO Spin. These are nice variations to a great family game!
- Cranium Fort – I have enjoyed playing with this at work so much that I bought it for my kids and they love it. We have built rocket ships, cars, and forts of all different shapes and sizes. My kids enjoy coming up with their own creations, and then play in it for a very long time! We’ve had a great time pretending to take a trip to Colorado, fly to the moon, or just seeing how many different things we can build.
- Jenga – This is a more challenging game in which you have a tower of long flat blocks from which you take turns pulling one block out at a time, until it falls over. This is a great game to build anticipation, work as a team to see how high you can get the tower, or to work on taking turns.
- Doodle Dice – This is a simple yet entertaining game that is similar to Yhatzee. The rules are easy to learn, and the game is fun for the whole family.
- Power Balls – Create and make your own bouncing balls. This is a great activity to do with children who will feel proud that they made it! There are several options of Power Ball kits available.
- Digital Camera – Although not as cheap, this is a fun toy for kids. They can take the pictures, download them, and edit them. This is a wonderful way to take pictures during the holidays to capture those special moments! This also provides a great opportunity to help your child think about what they might want to remember about the holidays. Once the pictures are downloaded, you can work together to make an album.
Happy holiday shopping!