Christmas is my favorite time of year, and this year is no exception. My family is already talking about the things we will do during the holiday season. The interesting thing is, my children keep talking about the experiences they have during the season rather than the actual gifts they received on Christmas. They talk about driving around the neighborhood drinking hot chocolate in their pajamas and looking at Christmas lights. They remember making cookies and decorating gingerbread houses. It got me thinking, why am I spending hours shopping all over town – and the Internet – trying to find the perfect “gifts” for my children and the things they remember aren’t “gifts” at all? I needed to listen to what my children were telling me.
We know that our children need our presence more than our presents. So I’ve decided that this Christmas I am going to mindfully invest in gifts that will not only outlast the holiday decorations but will create memories I hope will last even longer. With that in mind, we created a list of gift ideas that your family can experience together.
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate Membership
A membership to the museum is a gift of year round learning and fun. The membership is good in both locations, Greenville and Spartanburg. They have weekly programming, camps, birthday parties and all the STEAM activities!
When you teach your children about gardening, you are also teaching them life skills. Persistence, patience, self-control. Check out Kidsgardening for lots of fun activities to get you started! A quick blog post about some fall gardening fun is here.
The learning tower has been a game changer in our house. This is the model we have, but there are several different variations out there, even a “make your own hack” from Ikea. Our learning tower lives at our kitchen island and we use it for cooking together (they are better eaters because they help cook), playing play-dough, and crafting all the things. The best part is I am on eye level with my children.
I really geek out over an ant farm. I was raised on a farm, and we got one of these for Christmas most years. It was fascinating to see the ants build their tunnels and do their work. A great perspective for a child to have! You could also pair it with the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper to teach a deeper message.
Plan a Family Getaway at a State Park
Whether you spend the day or spend the night, SC has many state parks to take adventure. Make it a challenge to see how many parks you can visit before Christmas 2021! An Annual Pass for all the parks, which includes 15 parks in the Upstate, is $99. Check them out here: www.southcarolinaparks.com
Don’t forget about the free activities in our community! Go on a hike at the Cottonwood Trail in Spartanburg. Have a scavenger hunt and a picnic at Hatcher Garden.
To make it a gift: Mama, your children do not know these programs are free! Create your own “ticket” or “coupons” to attend an event near you. Let your child choose when to redeem. Add some magic to a future mundane morning!
If you’re children are anything like mine – they love to build forts! If you’ve run out of sheets, tables, couches, patience or energy, this ultimate fort maker is for you, mama. It’s easy enough for several ages to work together to build the fort mansion of their dreams. Dream, plan, build and go!
Ok, being a mom of two girls, we LOVE a tea party. The bonus is my little boy enjoys a good tea party, as long as there are cookies involved. This gift does not need to cost you much at all. I use (with caution and supervision) china from a rummage sale. We not only work on manners and conversation, but also on being gentle and careful with things that are breakable. We practice setting the table together, and even use cloth napkins from time to time. We make a “guest” list of friends to invite so we can plan future events together. As the weather gets warmer, we have picnics outside with our “fancy” set.
We hope this list inspires you to give the gift of presence this year!
Love, The MTSkids Team
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