The holidays are about spending time with family, and these gifts guarantee everyone gets involved. Whether it’s the kitchen, rec room, or nearest park, each present on the following pages means mom, dad, brothers, and sisters have a role.
At six feet long, this toboggan promises not to leave a single family member solo at the top of the sledding hill. Made of red oak for durability, the sled gets slicker with each trip. Appropriate for towing tots through the yard or sliding down the slopes.
THE MODERN ST. NICK
Santa’s Magic Key by Seasons of Cannon Falls
$20 for set with cookie plate and milk mug; $5 for Santa’s Magic Key alone
800-377-3335 or SeasonsofCannonFalls.com
No fireplace? No problem. Seasons of Cannon Falls has created Santa’s Magic Key for families in just such a situation. The gold key can be placed on the front door the night before Christmas, and not only can Santa easily slip inside, but a fun new family tradition is born.
LAST FAMILY IN THE WOODS
Minnesota State Parks Pass
$25, $18 for a second vehicle
Parks permits pack a lot of bang for the buck: one $25 pass is good for an entire year from the month of purchase and grants families unlimited visits to all 72 state parks and recreation areas. That means hiking at Hayes Lake, sightseeing at Split Rock Lighthouse, and ambling through Afton are all covered.
Wolf Country Learning Vacations
$350 adults, $305 children
Deep down, don’t we all want to run with the wolves? The International Wolf Center in Ely encourages families to explore these urges at a special vacation weekend called Mush with Dogs, Howl with Wolves Family Adventure. Visitors get to help feed the resident pack, mush a dogsledding team, and snowshoe through wolf country looking for signs of animals.
A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD
National Geographic Magazine subscription
$19 for 12 issues
1-888-225-5647 or ShopNG.com
An African safari or an Arctic trek might be out of your budget this holiday season, but a gift subscription to National Geographic makes even the most remote places seem familiar. Kids will enjoy the striking photographs while reading about animals, culture, history, and nature. Parents can feel good about inspiring their children to care about the planet.
YOU GO, GIRLS!
Minnesota Lynx ticket packages
$33 (per person) for four games
It’s tough to top the Lynx when it comes to ticket packages: families can enjoy four games in the Target Center’s mini suite areas for just $33 per person. That’s just $8.25 per game to see Seimone Augustus, the 2006 Rookie of the Year, and a team that set the WNBA single-game scoring record last season.
10-4, GOOD BUDDY
Midland GXT600 two-way radios
More fun than cell phones, these two-way radios allow families to keep in touch whether at the State Fair or in the neighborhood. With an 18-mile range, these pocket-size radios boast five watts of power, vibrating alert, and a weather radio.
THE FAMILY THAT COOKS TOGETHER
Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray’ 30-Minute Meals for Kids
Get kids in the kitchen with Ray’s accessible, fun, and easy-to-make recipes. Chapters are broken down by age (4-6, 7-11, 12 and up) and include recipes like five-minute fudge, chicken toes, and Mexican rice bowls – all in Ray’s casual kidspeak.
The Minneapolis toy store Wonderment offers three seasons of classes that include whittling slingshots, origami, and knitting that kids and parents can do together. It’s Play Time, also in Minneapolis, hosts classes on elaborate art projects, inventors’ workshops, and more.
DON’T FENCE ME IN
Northface Trailhead Four or Trailhead Six tent
Families can put a lot of stress and strain on a tent, which is why Bob Aldrich at Midwest Mountaineering recommends high-quality tents like the North Face Trailhead Four and Trailhead Six. Sleeping under the stars is more fun without concerns over leaks and tears.
Genealogy classes at the Minnesota History Center
$6 members, $8 nonmembers
Tracing genealogical roots is a big job that is best tackled by the entire family. The Minnesota Historical Society offers classes throughout the year to help families make the best use of resources like immigration records, birth and death certificates, and state archives.
MOM, WHERE’S NAMIBIA?
Hold entire countries in your hands when you put together Geopuzzles, brightly colored jigsaw puzzles of the major continents with pieces shaped like specific countries. Mom and Dad may benefit as much as the kids from this fun geography lesson.
TAKE FAMILY FUN ON THE ROAD
Road Trip Quiz Wit
Long holiday car trips pass in a flash when you have fun travel games. Tell Me gets families talking with a deck of 50 thought-provoking question cards. Road Trip QuizWit puts trivia in the laps of travelers with a magnetic game board and witty trivia questions on movies, music, and television.
GIVING TIMES TWO
Children’s Art Project cards
$12 for 15 cards, benefiting the Children’s Cancer Hospital at the University of Texas
VistaPrint Charity Cards
$12.99 and up, benefiting a variety of charities
There’s no easier way to reflect the generosity and joy of the season than by purchasing holiday cards that highlight the art of children in need.
HOLLYWOOD AT HOME
Various plans ranging from $5.99-$23.99
Can’t find a flick for Friday’s family movie night? With 65,000 titles to choose from as a Netflix subscriber, you should never have that problem again. The online video store mails DVDs directly to your door. Keep movies as long as you like and pop them into the prepaid envelopes when you’re done.
RETRO KITCHEN FUN
West Bend three-quart Fondue Pot
Meals don’t get more interactive than with fondue. This nonstick, plug-in model (eliminating the need for an open flame) comes with eight forks; recipes for cheese, dessert, and hot-oil-based fondue; and heat-resistant handles for easy serving at the table.
WINTER WONDERLAND Snowshoes
$49.99-$59.99 children’s models
$69-$259 adults’ models
REI, L.L. Bean
Coasting over Minnesota snowfalls is easier – not to mention more fun – in a pair of snowshoes. Several companies make shoes for every member of the family, including specially designed children’s shoes, for family treks on winter trails. MSR’s Denali Tyker and Tubbs’ Flurry each fit easily onto small feet.
After 35 years, Mattel has added a new twist to the popular card game UNO: A spin card that forces players to spin the wheel and take their chances. Will it mean more cards? The chance to discard your hand? Everything can change with a single spin.
The buzz about this game is that it’s easy to play and even easier to get addicted to. Use the Buzzword to solve 10 clues in 45 seconds, or the other team has a chance to steal the ones you missed. Perfect for big gatherings with the whole family.
Games by James
Ruckus has a lot going for it: the rules are easy to understand, the rounds are quick, and everyone from adults to elementary school children like to play. This award-winning card game encourages players to steal matched sets of cards from other players, and fortunes rise and fall quickly as the dealer adds more cards to the mix.
Players think up funny captions for goofy photos and then try to match the captions to their fellow players. With more than 300 photos, plus bubble stickers you can put on your own photos, Bubble Brain promises that it’s the thought that counts for every player.
Scene It? Jr.
Parents familiar with the grown-up version of this on-screen trivia game – which taps knowledge of movies, TV, sports, and more – will find the Jr. version just as engaging. Kids will also like the logic, knowledge, and memory skills that give the game a different twist than the adult series.