Giving gifts worth remembering

Practical and creative ideas for children’s Christmas presents

This year, Lee’s Summit mom Kathryn Adams wanted to give her 4-year-old son a Christmas gift he would talk about for years to come. They decided to head to Branson to take a ride on the Polar Express train—something bound to captivate any imaginative train-loving boy.

“My husband and I chose to take our son to ride the Polar Express because he loves trains,” Kathryn says. “He has plenty of toys, so we thought this experience would be a lifelong memory.”

When the toys and clutter begin piling up in your home and you want to give your children something more meaningful for Christmas, consider these ideas:

Memberships. Kansas City boasts an abundance of family-friendly destinations, and many offer yearly or seasonal memberships. Having memberships to these places can create hours of entertainment and enjoyment, and they can serve as a solution any time the kids are bored.

Movie/concert tickets. These can be perfect indoor activities during the winter months.

Contributions to their college funds. This is definitely a lesson in delayed gratification for something that’s not necessarily a “fun” gift, but teaching children to appreciate a college contribution as a gift will go far in helping them prioritize their future needs.

Books, art supplies and magazine subscriptions. These can make for fun and educational gifts.

Lessons of some kind: music, swimming or other sports. Not only are such lessons educational, they also can help children reach their goals.

Clothes. Accepting clothes as gifts can help children learn to be grateful for the necessities in life.

Vouchers for various experiences and privileges children can redeem at times of their choosing. For a number of years, Lee’s Summit mom Kristin Gravatt has been giving her daughter vouchers for things such as “get out of making your bed,” “choose dinner plans,” “choose what park you want to go to,” “manicure and pedicure” and “movie night.” She said her daughter gets quite excited to pull them out and redeem them, and most of the activities are family-based and not materialistic.

Camp. Give the gift of summer camp! For details visit Additionally, Santa typically leaves a voucher at their home for something winter-related, such as “take a magical sled ride.”

Trips. Branson has many attractions worth visiting during the Christmas season, including the Polar Express train and Silver Dollar City. Gravatt says her family has enjoyed many trips to Branson around Christmastime, but this year they are stepping up the traveling and going on a cruise to Mexico.

Another creative approach to giving children’s gifts is to develop categories of gifts. Lee’s Summit mom Bree Raymond is trying to minimize around her home and, after seeing discussion on the Facebook group of popular minimalist mom Allie Casazza, she decided to create four categories of gifts for her children. Her daughters will be receiving gifts that classify as something they want, something they need, something they can do and something they can read.

“We’ve always felt our house is filled with unnecessary toys our kids never play with after Christmas,” Raymond says. “We are drowning in stuff, and we are trying to live more minimalist.”

Some of the gifts her daughters have chosen include sewing classes, a skateboard, a fishing pole and bow and arrow. Other gifts include a membership with Sluggerr’s Blue Crew at the Royals and paddle boarding with Dad. Raymond says they also are doing a non-electronic Christmas filled with gifts that do not involve technology.

This approach to Christmas, she says, will help her family reduce the amount of possessions in the house, as the gifts are more focused on activities.

Membership ideas

Are you looking for gifts to keep your children entertained throughout the year? Consider memberships to the following family-friendly Kansas City destinations and organizations:

  • Kansas City Zoo
  • Science City
  • Paradise Park
  • Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
  • The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
  • LegoLand Discovery Center/Sea Life Aquarium  
  • Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun
  • Powell Gardens
  • Local community centers with indoor pools (Legacy Park Community Center, Matt Ross Community Center and the new Lenexa Rec Center are great ideas.)

Allison Gibeson is a Lee’s Summit mom and writer.

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