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The Holidays are a busy time for parents, but this year we are here to help you cross off your holiday shopping list quickly. If you’ve ever given a kid a present only to have them play with the box, this is the guide for you. Don’t waste time asking what are the best gifts for kids? What will be the most popular gifts for 2019? What can I buy for kids who have everything? What is the best gift for my wife? What is the best gift for my husband? We have unique gift ideas for the whole family for all budgets!
Adventures are the gifts that keep on giving! Kids learn about themselves and their world through their experiences. These life lessons and memories mean more and have a longer lasting impact than the toys wrapped with pretty bows. Adventures to gift can include tours, classes, sports, physical activities, camping, overnights and more. Adventures don’t have to break the bank. Check for deals on CertifiKid before you book. For family adventure ideas check out the blog for recent adventure reviews. Enjoy some of our favorite easy to gift adventures for families:
Give the gift of survival! Swimming is an essential life skill. There are year round lessons and swim teams for most ages. It is never too early or too late to teach your little ones to swim. We have partnered with British Swim School because their slogan is survival of the littlest which highlights their commitment to water safety. Find out more HERE.
Learning to fish is fun for the whole family. Grab a pole or book a fishing cruise for the family. Captain Chris and his crew at Family Fishing Adventures offer families a phenomenal fishing experience on the Sea Dragon out of the Annapolis Harbor. You can grab a gift card through their online booking system to schedule for a warmer time. Family Fishing Adventures is dedicated to protecting the bay and providing experiences that inspire others to as well. Captain Chris has bottomless energy and passion teaching kids about marine life in the bay. You’ll be laughing and learning the entire time! Read our review HERE.
Set sail for family adventure on the high seas! Ports across the country offer family friendly cruises on lakes, rivers and oceans. We boarded the Sea Gypsy VI in search of pirate booty with Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. The family owned and operated Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake has been plundering the waters of Annapolis for 17 seasons offering family outings, birthday parties and field trips. Find out more HERE.
Plan a getaway for the family after the holiday craze is over! One of our favorite ways to get away is with Getaway. Getaway offers tiny house cabins, that sleep 2-4 people, nestled in the woods within a couple hours drive of Washington, DC (and other major cities). A Getaway tiny house combines luxury and simplicity in an effortless aesthetic. The minimalist lifestyle at Getaway offers families the perfect opportunity to unplug, slow down and concentrate on building relationships and memories. The amenities in the cabin help make family fun easy. Book your Getaway now. Read our review HERE.
Skiing and snowboarding are great family activities you can continue with kids of all ages. Spending a day on the slopes as a family is a great way to stay active, enjoy the great outdoors and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you ski often or have never been, trekking out to a ski resort with children can be a big undertaking. We love the lessons at Inside Ski provides a year-round opportunity to practice and train without the drive, lift tickets, rentals, or cold weather. Inside Ski Training Center is great for first-timers, expert skiers, and snowboarders of all ages to learn, improve, and practice in a fun and safe environment. Find out more HERE.
Exposing children to live theatre at a young age improves performance, creativity, empathy, cultural relativity, patience, morals, communication and imagination. Get tickets, or a pass, to a family theatre near you. We love that the Adventure Theatre productions are entertaining and fun for children AND parents. We are constantly impressed by the production value of these performances! Adventure Theatre MTC (ATMTC) educates and inspires new generations of theater artists and audiences with exceptional theatrical experiences. Find out more HERE.
Food brings people together, especially cooking together. You don’t have to be a skilled chef to cook with your kids. Find a cooking class near you, bonus if you can attend together! We loved learning to make cake truffles at Milk Bar this year. We crumbled, mixed, kneaded, rolled, dipped, spilled and taste-tested our way through the one hour class and even learned some baking tips along the way. You can also find delicious treats for holiday get togethers at Milk Bar in stores and online. Find out more HERE.
Ropes courses are a fun family activity that challenge individuals and strengthen bonds. Go Ape! is an outdoor adventure company which runs Tree Top Adventures, Forest Segways, Tree Top Junior Adventures and Zip Trekking Adventures. Go Ape Rock Creek Treetop Adventure course is a fully immersive outdoor experience. Find out more HERE.
New adventures are always popping up like the ultimate fun in the family-friendly archery dodgeball arena in Virginia. Ultimate Archery is a really fun and exciting way to spend time as a family, and not a bad workout either! This action-packed experience can be enjoyed by anyone 7 years or older. Find out more HERE.
It’s not always easy to find adventures for the whole family that rock (pun intended!). Rock climbing offers adventurers of all ages hours of exercise and challenging fun. Climbing as a family has added benefits of improving teamwork, trust, problem solving and communication within the family. Luckily for families, it has never been easier to join the climbing community. Indoor climbing facilities and teams have been popping up across the country. Earth Treks offers open climb, birthday parties and camps. Read our review HERE.
Most cities have a Children’s Museum perfect for a day of interactive fun for kids of all ages. We love Port Discovery Children’s Museum. It is one of the leading non-traditional educational resources of the Mid-Atlantic region and offers three floors of interactive exhibitions and programs for children ages Birth through 10 years old. Find out more HERE.
Full steam Adventures await families on the train! There are railroads that offer rides anywhere from around town to hours long. Look for a special Holiday ride, or go any day, your kids will love the experience anytime. We love riding the Strasburg Railroad. It’s just over 2 hours from Washington DC and along with a train ride we get the history, science and technology of steam engines. Find out more HERE.
Memberships motivate adventure! With a membership card burning a hole in your pocket, you’re more likely to make a plan, find the time and make adventure a priority. Memberships also allow your family to explore some of the most interesting places in a more intimate way. When you are not trying to see (or do) it all in one day, you’ll have a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Memberships to museums, zoos, aquariums, gyms, theatres and science centers are great options! Enjoy some of our favorite memberships to gift:
Aquariums are a fun and educational experience for the whole family. A membership allows you to go slow and see the exhibits in a new way. The National Aquarium lets you get up close and personal with aquatic life unlike any other place in the DC area! Purchasing a National also Aquarium membership supports aquatic education and conservation. Find out more HERE.
A Zoo membership can send you on a fun-filled family adventure to see animals from all over the world. In the DMV we have 2 amazing zoos – Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Maryland Zoo. The National Zoo raises funds to support the Zoo’s mission, providing educational and fun experiences, and inspiring members and guests. The Maryland Zoo allows close-up views to many animals including African elephants, southern white rhinoceros, lionhead rabbits and many more! Find out more HERE.
STEAM Adventures are available year round the Science Center. A membership to your local Science Center will give your little ones more opportunities to explore their world. The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore is 3 stories of fascinating exhibits and science encounters plus a planetarium and IMAX Theater! Find out more HERE.
Access to a makers space provide kids with opportunities to combine creativity and critical thinking. We love the KID Museum, it is an innovative learning space unlike any other in the DC region. The museum provides hands-on learning that incorporates STEM, art, and culture. Find out more HERE.
There is a museum for everything it seems so find one you love to explore! A museum membership is a great way to adventure indoors and foster curiosity in children. With so many free museums in the DC area it may seem crazy to pay for one, but The International Spy Museum is an interactive and creative way to learn about history through an all-but-invisible profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events. Find out more HERE.
A National Parks pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges as well as standard amenity fees at National Forests and Grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. Find out more HERE.
Take a step back in time and discover history hands-on with multiple visits to a historic site. Pick a place close to home or somewhere that overlaps with school curriculum. Get the kids in on the action or pick a new place every year. We love visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon because it combines an authentically interpreted 18th-century home, lush gardens and grounds, intriguing museum galleries, immersive programs, and first-rate dining and shopping. The special events, interactive exhibits, daily children’s activities, historic reenactments, and tours offer hours of year-round family fun. Find out more HERE.
Subscriptions are the gift that keep on giving! We’ve all been there, a couple weeks after the holidays and your kids are already bored. To prevent the post holiday burn out we love getting an annual subscription service. There are a ton of monthly services for kids, so it’s easy to find one your little one will love. We have compiled some of our favorites:
When it comes to STEAM fun at home KiwiCo has you covered! The hands-on projects that arrive in the mail are designed to help kids develop into fearless innovators. Absolutely everything needed to build each project, detailed easy to follow (written for kids!) instructions, and an educational magazine to learn even more about that crate’s theme are found in each crate. Find out more HERE.
Mama May I Sensory Bins
Take the work out of learn-through-play at home with sensory bins made easy. Mama May I sends curated sensory bin kits to your home that blend the best of developmental psychology and design to offer a unique learn-through-play experience. All of the creations are back to basic classic that are designed to be open-ended and imagination powered. Find out more HERE.
MakeCrate sends all inclusive kits allowing kids to build their own calculator, room alarm, musical instrument, and more. Each kit contains parts to complete at least 2 projects, but kits can be combined with previous kits for endless opportunity! Online instructions are provided to build and code your circuit. Parents don’t have to be tech geniuses to pass on these coding and electronic essential skills to children. The MakeCrate Blog has posts covering information on coding, concepts and components that are great resources for background information and answering questions. Find out more HERE.
Making the most of family time & take an adventure around the world without leaving your kitchen! Eat2explore delivers the spices, recipes and shopping list. Your family delivers the FUN! These culinary adventures in the Family Dinner Club with Eat2Explore are full of information about the selected country. Each meal we have prepared using Eat2Explore has generated some interesting conversations and tons of questions! Find out more HERE.
CuriosityStream let us try out their on-demand award-winning science, technology, history, and nature documentaries. We are hooked! There are over 1,800 features and series with HD visuals that will captivate and storytelling that showcases some of the most interesting facets of life on our planet and beyond. Get a preview of CuriosityStream with the free full episodes. Read our review HERE.
Magazine subscriptions are a great way to practice reading and foster a love of learning. Find a magazine for something your little is passionate about. For nature lovers of all ages choose a Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr or Ranger Rick Cub subscription. National Geographic Little Kids and Kids are perfect for your young explorers. Introduce your children to science, art, nature, and environmental issues with CLICK magazine. Get your little animal lovers Zoobooks or Zoodinos. Join the hidden pictures club with Highlights for Children.
Wrap up something special for everyone on your list this year. Our favorite presents include adventure gear, STEAM toys, travel accessories, creative outlets and more! We’ve put together a list of our favorite adventure inspired presents:
Relay is a kids phone alternative. We try to give our kids room to enjoy their childhood and be children, but sometimes in this crazy world we wish they had a phone! The Relay phone alternative is an easy to use option that allows us to stay in touch without putting the internet in their pockets. Available on Amazon.
Do a deep dive on family fun by learning to snorkel. Snorkeling is a great way to adventure underwater anywhere. It is tempting to grab a cheap set, but for a little more the whole family can be outfitted with mask, snorkel and fins that will feel and perform better. We love the Cressi Rocks Kids Sets. We have been using Cressi for 10+ years and the quality equipment provides a more enjoyable underwater experience. Available on Amazon.
We always ask what gear people recommend on adventures and Captain Chris of Family Fishing Adventures recommended the Zebco 33 spincast reel for kids and beginners. Since we all found them easy to use while on the boat, we wanted to get our own sets for home. Throw the spincast reel on your pole or grab a Zebco Z pole. Available on Amazon.
You’re making an investment in family bike rides with your littles when you get them a balance bike. We love the durability, air tires, adjustable seat height, adjustable handlebars and foot rest on the 12″ Schwinn Balance Bike. After riding this balance bike our 6 year old learned how to ride a pedal bike in no time! When kids learn to balance first they become more confident riders and parents spend less time holding on to the back of bike seats.
The Personalized Artist Pack by Stuck On You is perfect for the creatively inclined. The vibrant pencils and markers allow little artists and dreamers to color their worlds with joy and pizzazz. They can also use their personalized stamp to ‘sign’ their masterpieces! Stuck On You offers unique, timeless products for every child, save families time, energy and money and help them to lead a more organized life. In addition to a broad offering of labels, the Stuck On You collection includes activity and personalized books, durable and stylish bags, lunchboxes and drink bottles, stationery, bag tags and gorgeous gifts for all ages.
Crayola has art supplies for all ages! The Mess Free line is great for the littlest. The school essentials fuel elementary school kids’ creativity. Check out the Art with Edge and Signature lines for older artists. Grab single items or pick up a set to keep your artists creating all year long. Order from Crayola and Amazon.
Doodlematic is powered by imagination! There are no limits to creating with this new game. Kids can draw on paper, take a picture of it and then play a video game featuring their own creation. There are 2 guidebooks included that provide game design examples and show kids how to use their imaginations to create their own games. Doodlematic teaches logic, problem solving, creativity, and perseverance in an inclusive way, all while cultivating and promoting imagination. Available on Amazon.
Jooki is a WIFI speaker that makes music accessible to the youngest in a screen-free environment. You can upload your own content on Jooki or listen to streaming music with Spotify Premium. When one of the figurines touches Jooki, your kids’ chosen playlist starts to play. It’s all their music at their fingertips! This is a great way to share music as a family. Available on Amazon.
Karaoke Night anyone?! This Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone can connect to a phone with cable or Bluetooth so your whole music library is available for Karaoke on demand. There are several modes and 4 voice options to keep the whole family laughing along. The colorful dynamic LED lights create a multimedia performance right at home. We suggest the mic cover and carrying case so you can take the show on the road with you. Available on Amazon.
Not that you would ever want to silence your kids, BUT they can silently rock out with a set of headphones and an mp3 player. Just in case. Your littles will love the bluetooth and light up features on the Riwox headphones. They are easy to charge, fold up for travel, and come with an audio cable to continue using when you run out of battery. Available on Amazon.
The other part of your rockin’ out combo is a Clip MP3 Player. This one by AGPTEK has bluetooth without a large screen. You can easily upload your own music using a Micro SD card or directly to the device. Your little rocker will love how lightweight, yet rugged this small and mighty music machine is! Available on Amazon.
These days there are a ton of new STEAM toys and most o them focus on the Tech, but the classic building toys are still fun educational toys. Kids of all ages love to build an create with the colorful magnetic tiles. Magnatiles develop math, science, spatial and tactile skills while sparking hours of imaginative free play! Available on Amazon.
There is nothing more classically STEAM than LEGOS! If you are starting out you might want to get a set. There are a ton of options so choose something your little is interested in. The pieces in the kits can become a little constricting after they get going so once you have them hooked on building, the Creative Brick Boxes are the best bang for your buck. Your little engineers will have the pieces they need to build anything they can imagine. Available on Amazon.
Experience the power of gravity with GraviTrax, the epic marble run toy. With this interactive track system kids can discover how the laws of physics affect the path their marble takes with curves, crosses, free-falls and even a cannon. Expansion products and accessories keeps the fun rolling longer. The open-ended building concept offers endless possibilities to design a different track every time you play. The digital aspects incorporated in the app are a great first introduction to design software. The app also allows young engineers to create and use digital blue prints. Available on Amazon.
Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card. It plugs into your TV or display, and a keyboard and mouse. You can use it to learn coding and to build electronics projects or like a desktop PC. It can do spreadsheets, word processing, browse the internet, and play games. It also plays high-definition video. The Raspberry Pi is being used by adults and children all over the world to learn programming and digital making. You don’t have to be a computer genius to get one for your kids. There are starter kits, guides and online communities for support. Available on Amazon.
Do you want to build a snowman? Do you want to code one? Kano’s platform lets you build real devices, learn how they work, code them step by step, and share your creations with the world. With the Kano Disney Frozen 2 Coding Kit your kids will build a sensor to detect 3D hand motions, play with Frozen powers and make your own stories. Available on Amazon.
Little Bits invented electronic building blocks and sell technology kits for kids of all ages that are fun, easy-to-use, and infinitely creative. These magnetic “Bits” snap together to turn ideas into inventions, transforming the way kids learn so they can grow up to be tomorrow’s change makers. There are several different kits including an Avengers Hero kit! Available on Amazon.
Osmo makes hands-on learning games in which players use objects in the real world to interact with the digital world shown on their iPad or Fire tablets. Whether your child is a music lover, budding coder, or aspiring mathematician, Osmo has the right games to inspire your child. Pick one of the 3 starter kits depending on age and add games as you play. Available on Amazon.
STEAM kits are fun, engaging, ready-to-use projects, hands-on activities and experiments designed to expand young minds. Horizon Group USA is the leading supplier of Craft Components and Activity Kits with brands that are recognized and trusted for delivering high quality and innovation at an exceptional value and artistic exploration for children. The STEAM Kits from Horizon are no exception with kits created by Discovery Kids, YOUniverse, Made By Me!, Mc2, Creative Kitchen, SLIMYGLOOP, OOZ-O’s and Think Box. Available on Amazon.
MindWare is the award-winning creator, manufacturer and distributor of Brainy Toys for Kids of All Ages. The diverse product line includes educational toys, games, brainteasers, creative play activities, building sets, coloring books and more. Q-Ba-Maze, Keva Planks and Pattern Play are some of our favorites. Read our review here. Available on Amazon.
In the incredible The Dad Lab book, experimenting Dad Sergei Urban shares his best 50 projects he has ever done with his children, including some that he never shared online before. Each project in the book features step-by-step instructions as well as explanation of science behind each process to satisfy even most curious minds. Available on Amazon.
Don’t forget Mom and Dad deserve a little love at the holidays too! With to do lists a mile long and a busy family schedule we know you don’t have time for wish lists. Here are some of our favorite gift ideas for parents:
Parents can capture every moment with a Canon camera. While we love the convenience of taking pictures on our phones, there is no debating the superior quality when we shoot with our Canon. It is easy to find the camera that fits your needs.
Keep your phone safe on every adventure with a case from OtterBox. Pick the protection that is right for you. OtterBox makes other gear perfect for outdoor adventures like bags, coolers, drink ware and accessories.
Protect your phone and the ocean with a Pela Case – made from a plant-based material called Flaxstic®. Pela’s flagship phone case completely breaks down into carbon, water, and organic biomass – it’s biodegradable. Pela also develops other products made of environmentally sensible materials that educate and inspire a global community of people who are committed to making a positive impact on our planet. visit www.pela.earth
Keep unnecessary laundry at bay with these anti-bacteria towels featuring natural cleaning silver fibers which warn you of dirt build up by changing it’s color. It’s designed to keep you and your loved ones safe with less laundry. For more information visit mizutowel.com
Hydrate and caffeinate to stay at the top of your parenting game with cups from goSili! goSili silicone products offer an alternative to plastic, bridging the gap between great design and affordability while improving the way we live! A win-win for all! Check out their travel silicone placemats and kids cups for eco convenience on the go. For more information visit www.gosili.com.
Fuel your family with less time and effort. The Instant Pot is a parent’s dream. This one pot can make everything from a whole chicken to a cheesecake and everything in between. I love knowing I can get dinner from the fridge to the table in an hour with my Instant Pot. Take your family meals to the next level with the new Instant Vortex that can Air Fry, Rotisserie, Roast, Broil, Bake, Reheat, and Dehydrate all in one. Available on Amazon.
Fuel the family without the stress! Sleep deprived and stressed parents can still eat healthy delicious meals at home. We love Hello Fresh meal delivery service because it has the option for family friendly, it’s easy to use and we like the recipes.
My parenting mantra has often been if you can’t beat them, join them! Sometimes it is easiest to just embrace the chaos. For those days tile will make finding everything easier. This amazing system can help parents find their missing phones, keys, wallets, or even a special lovie essential for the daily routine! Available on Amazon.
For New Parents
Since sleep can’t be wrapped up for the holidays this year we have these substitutes instead:
Parents can rest easy with the easy to use and secure Panasonic Long-Range Baby Monitor. This monitor provides an independent closed network for up to 1500 feet of secure, interference-free range. In addition to the secure connection and the extra-long range, other features include long battery life, clear night mode, pan/tilt/zoom, 2-way talk, noise reduction, lullaby and white noise and sensors + alerts for motion and room temperature. I love that I can plug it in and its ready to go without wifi. Check out our review here.
We’ve all heard that you’re supposed to sleep when baby is sleeping. Probably the easiest way to gift sleep to new parents is with the SNOO by Happiest Baby. SNOO is a responsive baby bassinet that boosts a baby’s sleep by combining gentle rocking with soothing white noise and snug, safe swaddling.
ergoPouch offers sleep deprived parents innovative products designed to help babies and kids get a better night’s sleep. ergoPouch products include premium quality baby swaddles, sleeping bags, sleep suits and layers available from birth to 6 years of age sizing along with organic bedding. ergoPouch products offer great functionality and versatility with swaddles that can easily transition to a sleeping bag and sleep suits that convert from bags to suits with legs for easy use from bassinet to stroller.
Teething can come out of nowhere and last for ages. New parents can be prepared with MAM Friends. MAM Friends are handmade and safe for baby making them an ideal first toy to help your child’s development. Made of 100% natural rubber, their material is pleasantly soft to the touch. Their bright colors and different shapes help to develop baby’s senses. Baby will love them and parents will love the relief from teething! Available on Amazon.
Give a new parent a hand this holiday season! For the rest of the year the Ergobaby Carrier 360 keeps baby close and parents’ hands free in four ergonomic ways to babywear. The Ergobaby 360 offers lumbar support for extra back comfort as your baby grows. These carriers are great for Moms and Dads! Available on Amazon.
If you’re a new parent be sure to email this to your extended family!
Little gifts are perfect for stockings, advent calendars, gift exchanges and teacher gifts. It is easy to fall into filler for these occasions, but we put together some of our favorite small and mighty gifts that don’t skimp on meaning:
Young to mature lips will all shine with Babo Botanical Organic Tinted Lip Conditioner! Innovative sheer lip tint SPF 15. Non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; Smoothes, softens and conditions lips; Enriched with Babo’s Nutri-Soothe™ Complex, rich in anti-oxidants & vitamins. Babo Botanicals products are designed for the most sensitive skin, from babies to adults and are 100% gluten, soy and dairy free. Babo Botanicals retail partners include Amazon, Anthropologie, buybuyBABY,The Detox Market, Follain, Goop, Grove Collaborative, Pharmaca, Target, Thrive Market, Ulta, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans and many more. For more information visit www.babobotanicals.com.
Klee girls makes non-toxic makeup for little kids. Your kids can explore and create with makeup that is safe and natural including mineral eyeshadow, blush, body shimmer, organic lip shimmer and water-based peelable nail polish. All the makeup is made from purely natural minerals. NO talc, NO parabens. NO petrochemcials. NO artificial dyes. Available on Amazon.
Spa Day! Manis and Pedis for the whole family are a great way to beat cabin fever this winter. Ella+Mila nail polish is as safe (non-toxic) as it is cute. This polish comes in a variety of adorable colors for Mommy and Daughter. It does not contain: Formaldehyde, Toluene, DiButyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde Resin, or Camphor. It is also Vegan & Animal cruelty-free. Available on Amazon.