The holidays can be a stressful time for many. Anywhere we can cut back on the hustle and bustle, the better. For my family, I have found that relieving the worry of extravagant gift giving has been hugely beneficial and allows us all to fully engage and enjoy this time of year. Not spending money on gifts doesn’t mean you can’t still give them! Here are 10 free gift ideas that I have found to be huge hits with kiddos.
1. Commuter Bingo
If you ride with kiddos on board, make bingo card custom to your commutes! A stop sign, a yard with a dog that barks when you ride by, a mural or piece of street art, a funky painted house. Your card can contain all the heavier hitters for your daily ride. Check out Bingo Baker site to make your own custom card. We whipped up a fun kiddo commute bingo that can be found here. This PDF comes with 8 different cards so be sure to edit your printer settings if you don’t want all 8!
And pro-tip if you want them to fill the card out while riding. Put the card on a clip board and use a string to tie the clipboard to the Hooptie and another string to tie a pen to the clipboard to prevent any Bingo cards from flying off the bike mid ride.
2. Go for a holiday lights ride
Get the Bluetooth speaker ready to blast some Christmas music, load up the Thermoses with warm cocoa and marshmallows and set your sights on the best neighborhood for lights in town. Bonus points if you light your bike up to match!
3. Listen to new music together
Give the gift of music! Find an artist you know or one you have heard of but want to know more about. Pull out or look up their albums to listen to, watch videos of live performances, look up their bio online to read, pull out a map to see where they were born in relation to where you live, make hand drawn copies of their album covers. There is so much fun to be had when new music is involved!
4. Visit a piece of local history
You can look up registered historic markers in your area with a quick Google search: “[your state / city] historic markers”. My state has a user friendly map that makes finding markers super simple. There is tons of history around every corner in nearly ever town – you’re sure to find something new and informative in your own “backyard”!
5. Explore a new park in your town
Where ever you live, I guarantee there is at least one little park you don’t know about! My favorite method to find new parks is to pull of Google Maps and just start looking for the green spaces. These tend to be public lands and parks. Another option is to go to your town or city’s website and look for a GIS map.
6. Library scavenger hunt
Head to the local library for a scavenger hunt! The My Kids’ Adventures blog includes instructions and a free printable list.
7. Plan a kid’s day
Let your kiddos decide what to do for the day. Give them cart blanch (with any needed restrictions). Let them eat what they want for breakfast, decide what activity / activities you do for the day, what time they go to bed. Let them follow their heart’s desires and go along for the ride, wherever it may take you. Your kiddo is sure to not forget their special day directed by them!
8. Seek out something unique in your area
You’d be surprised to see what unexpected sights there are to see where you live. Check out these sites to find things to see in your are that might not be on your radar:
Roadtrippers: instead of “Plan Your Trip” click the “Explore Places” option. When you map pops up, click on the yellow eye for “Points of Interest”.
Atlas Obscura: This website is a great source for off the beaten path kind of places.
Weird US books: Check there books out at your local library for kooky places in your area.
9. A personalized crossword
This free gift is one I give to my kiddo, and heck, even my adult partner, often. We include clues about family inside jokes, adventures we’ve been on, little personality quirks we recognize and love in each other, you name it. This site is a great place to customize your very own crossword.
10. Go on a “Little Free Library” tour
I love spotting Little Free Libraries on our commutes and I feel like we’re always discovering more. Mapping out a route to all of the LFL’s in your area could make for a fun adventure, with the bonus points of promoting reading and community betterment! You can find a map of registered LFL’s here but keep an eye out because some folks put up a library and don’t add it to a map. Nothing like a surprise, unexpected LFL to brighten your ride!
We hope you have giving the gift of presence this holiday season! Have any stellar free gift ideas that sent your kiddos over the moon? We would love to hear all about them!