Alternative Christmas Presents And Activities In the City

Any household containing children will be more than aware by now that Christmas is starting to rear its head, now being under three months away. Most of the supermarkets are now displaying their selection boxes and tinsel, while toy shops are urging and inviting you to buy this year’s must-have toys and games to make sure your little darlings don’t miss out on the big day.

However, do they really need the same as everyone else? Are you brave enough to buck the trend and not buy what the toy industry is telling you to? We are extremely lucky in our vibrant capital city to have access to all kinds of alternative Christmas present experiences and ideas to indulge our children in a new and interesting way.

Here are just a few to consider…

Animal Magic

London Zoo run a highly popular adopt-an-animal scheme, where members of the public can ‘adopt’ such species as penguins, meerkats and giraffes. This would make a wonderful gift for an animal-crazy child. They will receive a personalised certificate,. folder and details about their animal, plus a free ticket to go and see him or her in the flesh. You could buy your child a nice book about the animal too, to add to their present, or a disposable camera to take pictures of their new adoptee when you visit the zoo. Offer your child a clue in advance by showing them nature documentary or cartoon clips on You Tube.

Theatrical delights

Christmas has been, in recent years, inexorably linked to spectacular theatre, be it pantomime, ballet or other children’s shows. Young children will love to receive tickets to a pantomime so that they can boo the villain and cheer on the hero to their hearts’ content. Older kids might enjoy a trip to the ballet – popular shows for youngsters include The Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. If your budget cannot stretch to theWest End or other professional productions, a number of amateur companies also put on shows at or around Christmas – for a fraction of the ticket price.

Savvy saving

OK, so this might not seem the most exciting gift to a child, but how about opening a special bank account for them? You could write out a mock contract, promising to put a regular amount of money into their account – or even to match any savings they are able to make on their own. There is a wide range of excellent children’s current accounts available. Check out the financial supplements in the daily or Sunday papers, or contact a financial advisor for more guidance. You could get other family members to contribute to their savings too – a perfect idea for long-distance relatives or those who find it hard to get out to the shops.

Christmas treasure hunt

Hyde Park, GreenPark, Regent’s Park – Londonis full of wonderful green spaces that are open to the public for free all year round. Just because it is winter, it doesn’t mean that you can’t dress up warmly and get out and about in them still. A great way to entertain the children – and make them ‘work’ for their presents on Christmas Day is to set up an outdoor treasure trail, working out in a set of clues in advance – and places to hide them. The prize for successfully following the trail might be some small presents, or a treat of their choosing in the locality.

The Food of Love

Many children love to go out to eat, but parents can worry about how they will cope in a ‘grown up’ restaurant or cafe. There are many great places to eat around Londonthat children will enjoy, including the Rainforest Cafe on Piccadilly – a fantastic world set in a rainforest with realistic animal animatronics and evocative sounds of birdsong, rainfall and rainforest life played as you eat. There is even a huge elephant and tanks of beautiful tropical fish to admire – and a well-stocked shop to pick up a souvenir afterwards.

Terrific Transport

Train-made boys (and girls) might enjoy an expedition with a difference this Christmas – just as a treasure hunt can be set up very easily in a park or garden, so a similar activity can be devised using the tube map, an Oyster card and
some imagination. Work out a route and set the children clues as to the tube stations they need to get to along the way. For instance, you might ask them to go to Shepherd’s Bush with the clue ‘Find this plant in a sheep-tender’s garden’. Or ‘brave fighter’s method of crossing over a river’ for Knightsbridge.

Whatever you decide to get the children as presents, we hope you have a great time choosing what to give!

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