giftIf your playroom, err, entire house looks anything like mine… slowly being overtaken by the amount of toys the children have accumulated you might find yourself saying a time or two this month “No more toys!”. There are lots of ways we can skimp in the toy department and still give our kids an amazing Christmas filled with many of the things they will love. Giving the gift of time together, memories and special moments will be just as important to the kids as a pile of plastic toys under the tree. Kids love together time and special moments just as much as they love that train set they “really, really, really want”. So go ahead and fill up the tree with gifts that give much longer than Christmas day, create memories together that will last a lifetime. I have rounded up 10 awesome ideas for non- toy gifts with a twist… Each are perfect for families right here in the Hudson Valley!

1. Classes or lessons

You can’t go wrong with a gift that lets children explore their passions. We are lucky to have so many music togetherwonderful classes, activities and groups here in the Hudson Valley. Give a gift your kids will really enjoy with music classes at places like Catskill Mountain Music TogetherJuliana’s Music BoxMid Hudson Music Together or one of the dozen other great music studios. You can sign your little athlete up for one of the many sports programs at Gold’s Gym (Lagrange), your local town league or little gym classes or your kids might enjoy art, dance or theater. You can also add uniforms and equipment your children might need for the lessons such as a new leotard and ballet shows or cleats. An easy way to give gifts they will love to use!

Check out Hudson Valley Parent’s great big list of activities for kids in the Enrichment Guide

2. Restaurant gift card

Just like adults, most kids love to be spoiled with their favorite foods in their favorite restaurants! The Hudson Valley is filled with wonderful kid friendly places to eat. Give the kids a night (or afternoon) out with money to spend at their favorite local eateries. You can include a “date night” coupon book for special time with each parent or pair it with snacks and special treats your children enjoy.

Top Kid Friendly Restaurants in the Hudson Valley

3. Memberships or season passes

childrens museumA great way to get more use out of holiday gifts is through season passes or memberships! Last year we got our boys a family membership to the Mid Hudson Children’s Museum. This year we are travelling a little outside of the Hudson Valley and getting season passes to Quassy Amusement Park! We also know lots of families that give season passes to SplashDown Beach or Zoom Floom! Memberships to kid- fun places like Poughkidsie or All Sport are also great ideas. With so many families members asking for gift ideas, a great way to cut down on toy gifts is to ask a group of people to contribute to memberships or season passes.

4. Tickets

Movie tickets, shows, games, plays and concerts. There are so many venues close to home that offer some of the best in theater and music for kids of all ages. Movie tickets are a great gift paired with a box of candy or treat, tickets to The Hudson Valley Renegades would be awesome with a tee shirt, baseball hat or glove and I know quite a few teens/ preteens who would love to open a pair of tickets to a concert at the Mid Hudson Civic Center and a new tee shirt. Think about different venues near you your kids or family might enjoy visiting and also check out Hudson Valley Parent’s calendar for the latest events and shows near you.

5. Activities

Thinking outside the box of traditional gifts you can always get the kids gift certificates to some of their favorite places in the Hudson Valley! If giving gift cards doesn’t appeal to you how about filling a gift bag up with coins and tickets to Chuck E. Cheese, a winter hat with money or tickets attached to Tuxedo Ridge, a few bouncy balls and a note about a trip to Bounce! Trampoline Sports or a pair of ice skates for a trip to one of the many indoor/ outdoor skating rinks in the area. You could even attach some plastic farm animals to a gift certificate to The Fun-E Farm and make it fun! Other activities you can give as gifts this Christmas are a craft and playtime at Poughkidsie, roller skating at Wood’n Wheel or Roller Magic, a trip to The Party Zone indoor amusement park and more. There are so many local options and truly something the kids will enjoy.

6. Books

What better gift to give your kids then the power of books. Are your boys into trains or dinosaurs? 8bd5e67ff9b1e879e75401fa6155ee38Choose books based on interests. Has your daughter recently learned how to read? Purchase a young readers book collection to encourage her new found talent! If you aren’t sure where to start, there are so many wonderful kid- friendly book stores here in the Hudson Valley. Give a book with a gift card and visit during a story hour. You can create an experience this Christmas that makes reading so much fun!

Check out: Cozy retreats for little readers

7. Outdoor Supplies

Kids love to be outside. Skip the toys this year and give kids practical things they can use outdoors. This winter, give sleds and snow tubes, even hats and gloves would work! Do your kids ski? You can give lift tickets and a new pair of gloves. Do your kids like to play in the snow? How about a snowman kit or snow paint. You could always stock up on warmer whether gear now too. Gardening supplies, bubbles, fishing gear, hiking boots, all make great gifts. Giving kids things they can use outdoors will keep them from boredom during those long days off from school!

8. Arts and Craft Supplies20140613_114855

Simple, and something kids always seem to run out of. Give the kids freedom to use their imagination with crayons, markers, paper and more! If you are feeling especially creative this year you can make your own supplies! How excited would your kids be to open a jar of sparkly homemade Frozen themed play dough! Pinterest is filled with so many creative arts and crafts ideas, homemade paints, dough recipes and more.

9. Mini- Vacation

A little more costly but a gift for the whole family. As a kid my parents used to take us up to a small cabin in the mountains for the weekend. Nothing but a fire, a pile of board games and family time. If seclusion isn’t for your family, you don’t have to travel far for a more action packed mini family vacation. Great Escape Lodge, Rocking Horse Ranch, Great Wolf Lodge or Coco Key Water Resort are all within driving distance to the Hudson Valley region. A few other popular options from HV Families are Sesame Place, Hershey Park and Mystic, CT.

10. Things they need

One of my favorite gifts for my kids is stocking up on things they need! So practical, yet so fun! I love to splurge a little a pick out character toothbrushes and fun socks instead of the boring cheap stuff I usually buy. We usually fill stockings with toothbrushes, soap, socks and undies but you can put these things under the tree too! With a little creativity and careful choices kids will love their new toothbrushes and socks under the tree too!

What are some of your favorite non- toy gifts to give or receive?

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