Darcie Maranich

Darcie Maranich


With Christmas less just around the corner, this is about the time of year that shopping gets frenzied as gift givers everywhere go into spending overdrive. It seems there is always just one last gift to buy, or one last person to buy for. All that gift giving can be hazardous to one’s wallet, especially when your list includes large families. I learned long ago that in those situations, it’s wise to give a gift that whole family can enjoy together, rather than purchase individual presents for each family member. With that in mind, I’m sharing some of my go-to gift ideas for whole family giving. Even better news? All of these items are readily available for last minute shoppers.

Family-friendly video game – If the family on your list has a game console (Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, for example) you can pick up a game that will get the whole family playing together. Our family loves the Just Dance games. Although the competition gets fierce at times, it is a game that gets us up and active, together.

Annual pass for local attractions – Buying a family an annual pass to a local zoo or museum is a great way to give a gift that keeps on giving (but is way better than the jelly of the month club). Consider the ages of children in the family and give accordingly. While younger children might enjoy a zoo membership, families that include teens might be more appreciative of season tickets to a local ballpark or live theater production company.

Gift cards – One of the most appreciated gifts my family can receive is a gift card to a local restaurant. Dining out with a large family can be expensive, so gift cards that enable us to enjoy a nice meal out are a real treat. If your budget is limited, you can opt for gift certificates to ice cream shops or the movie theater for a less expensive alternative.

Conversation starters - Several different companies market products that are meant to get the family talking. A simple search of the term “conversation starters” on Amazon will yield several results. There are cubes and boxes that feature individual cards with a question or thought to ponder on each card, or books that do the same thing in a different format. If you’re an especially creative type, you might consider printing several conversation starting topics on slips of paper and compiling them in a mason jar. A festive bow on top of the jar makes for great presentation of a thoughtful, homemade gift!

Boxed sets of books or movies – Families with small children might appreciate a boxed set of classic novels that are suitable for reading aloud at bedtime. Harry Potter, The Little House Books and The Chronicles of Narnia are all great choices. Families with older children might be more inclined to enjoy a boxed set of DVDs. Planet Earth is a very family-friendly choice.

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