Christmas Gift Ideas: Destination Play Days

When I shop, and especially when I Christmas shop, I search high and low for gifts that are unique and fit my recipient’s personality.  I want the gift to really make them light up with excitement.  I’m not looking for expensive or big, but fun and out-of-the-ordinary.  My three tenets of gift shopping are unique, local, and family owned.  So, for Christmas this year, I’m going to feature gift ideas that fit at least two of my tenets.  I hope these gift ideas will help you find fun gifts for everyone on your Christmas list and will support family businesses. 

Life happens fast, and it’s easy to let play days and family time get swallowed up in the busyness of life.  So, one of our favorite big gifts to give for our girls is a destination play day.  This usually assures that we make the time to go do something together.  As a big family, the entry fee to many places is slightly expensive, or at least more than we would normally spend on a day excursion.  However, if we use it as a gift, then we know we have a gift well spent.

Museums are one of our favorite ways to spend an afternoon.  In some cities, you can purchase a museum pass that allows you discounted tickets to a number of museums.  This is a great option if you’re within a reasonable distance of the museums offered.  Also, many museums have discounted or free admission afternoons every so often.  Check websites or call their information office to find out.

At the zoo, we give the monkeys a run for their money.

At the zoo, we give the monkeys a run for their money.

Zoos and aquariums are another favorite.  How many different types of animals can you see without ever leaving your state??  Like museums, zoos offer memberships that allow for a number of discounted visits per year and many are part of a larger group of zoos where your membership is honored.  I have a goal to visit all the zoos in Texas before my oldest graduates.  We’ve only been to four, so far.

Theme parks tend to out of our price range, and I’m not even talking Disneyland.  I got Groupon tickets to a small local theme park for my daughter’s birthday one year.  We had fun racing go-carts, indoor rock climbing, and having water fights in the bumper boats.  It also included pizza for lunch.  Not a bad deal, overall.

Be a tourist for the day.  While you might know all there is to know about your hometown or a nearby city, your children might not.  Check out what others want to see when they visit your area.  Austin, for instance, has the famous bat tours, duck tours on an amphibious bus, and, of course, the State Capitol.

Hiking and camping.  We’re not into roughing it too much, but we love to go camping in a cabin, or a “cabinet” as one of our girls used to call it.  We did that for Christmas last year, and it was one of our favorite Christmases EVER.

Plays, musicals, or concerts are always fun.  Last year we bought tickets to The Lion King for our oldest three daughters.  It was an absolute thrill to see the Broadway production, and not something they will ever forget.  I was as excited as they were.

To make a destination play day work as a gift, you need to follow a few simple rules.

1.  Either include the tickets or make some kind of memorabilia to wrap.  It needs to “feel” like a gift.

2. Set a specific date if tickets are not involved.  Put it on the calendar.  Block out the time.  Do not let anything conflict with the plans.

3. Whip up the excitement frenzy as the date gets closer, reminding everyone that this is THE gift from Christmas.

4. After the play date is done, talk up what a great Christmas gift this was, so everyone remembers that gifts deferred aren’t the end of the world.

Destination play dates combine making family memories with knocking out multiple gifts at an economical price.  I call that a SCORE!

What destination play date would your family like?


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