The holiday is coming up fast, and if you're running out of time, there's one way to make your week a heckuva lot easier. Stop shopping for everyone. The family gift is just as good.
Whether you're a mom looking to get something all of your kids (and the hubs) can enjoy or an auntie stumped on what to buy for all those cute little nieces and nephews, here's the deal: the family unit gift is something all or at least most can use. It can be more expensive because it's one thing instead of many, but it doesn't have to be.
Better still, it will save you from rushing from store to store this week like a chicken with her head cut off. Try these family unit gifts on for size:
Playful Chef Kids Cooking Kit, $42.95 at Chocolate Cake Club
Think this is just a toy for the kids? Guess again. This gives the kids everything to be a big help in the kitchen, and the inspiration to get them there. One gift will pave the way for years of family memories. We call that an investment for the future.
Giant Art Jar, $22.95 at Fat Brain Toys
Kids love to craft, but the number one reason Mom and Dad say no is because they don't have time to round up all the supplies for each and every project. Not anymore. This giant jar of goodies will give the family an afternoon's worth of old-fashioned "together time."
Movies, prices vary
The true "reason for the season" is to sit down with family and enjoy one another, isn't it? So how about buying them something they can enjoy over and over again? The Stir tends to get review copies of a lot of family picks throughout the year, and we know there's a lot to choose from. But here are a few of our favorites from the year that we got a look at: Despicable Me -- Fresh out on DVD, it's a silly comedy for kids with enough adult humor to capture the entire family unit. Bonus points for having an unorthodox family set-up with the supervillain Gru adopting his kids. Fantasia & Fantasia 2000 -- It's a two-fer, which will give them double the enjoyment. A great way to introduce kids to classical music with the animation they love. If that's not their thing, try The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a live-action off-shoot that hit theaters this summer and made magic seem possible for kids.
Games in a Bag, $15 at Pottery Barn Kids
Help keep them occupied on the long trip back home from Grandma's house with bags full of old-fashioned games. Made to be taken anywhere, they'll stimulate the mind and maybe kick start the conversation?
LEGO Games, prices vary
There's nothing worse than a board game your parents give you ... and then never play with. But The Stir got a look at LEGO's new games earlier this year, and these are a full-family experience. With games like Ramses Pyramid, you build your own game board and then play. Note to spouses of LEGO buffs -- you may not be able to get this out of their hands for your kid (trust me, it's happened at my house!).
Books, prices vary (or shall we say priceless)
Come on, did you really expect us to suggest movies and not say books? The beautiful thing about gifting a kids' book to an entire family is everyone really does get enjoyment out of it -- the kids who are read to, the parents who can snuggle with their kids. Try these finds with a bit of a holiday angle that are appropriate anytime of the year: Imogene's Antlers by David Small (a girl grows antlers just like a reindeer!); Little Tree by ee cummings (it's about a Christmas tree, but it's a fun introduction to poetry for little ones); Llama, Llama Holiday Drama (Anna Dewdney's lovable llama does what he does best -- drives his mama nuts!), or hit up our reading list for the littlest bookworms.
Do you do a family gift?