Giving the gift of time thru an experience has always been my preference over material things as the gift of making memories is priceless and keeps on giving long after the holidays are over.
Provincial Park Pass
Think outdoor fun like hiking, geocaching, tobogganing, ice skating on an open pond or cross country skiing. Provincial Parks and Conservation areas offer yearly or seasonal park passes and offer everything from boardwalks, trails, and water falls to animal watching and bon fires. Visit the one closest to you and see what they have to offer. Become a family that gets lost in the outdoors – even in winter!
Recreation Centre Pass
Most major Cities have Recreation Centers or YMCA’s that are designed for active family fun. Look into getting an indoor skating pass, a family swim membership or investigate their movie nights, rock climbing wall, teen activities or pick up games in the community gym such as volleyball or basketball.
Just as you need the right tools for the job, you need the right equipment to be active outdoors in the winter. The holidays are the perfect time to visit your nearest used sporting goods store and get ‘new to you’ ice skates, hockey sticks, helmets or go big and look into snowboards or skis for the family. Buy sleds for tobogganing, warm socks for hiking, proper base layers for being active, tall boots for playing, cozy mitts for snowball games and make sure everyone in the family has snow pants to enjoy the winter white stuff.
Tracking your steps and marking your miles has never been more popular with the introduction of apps and electronic devices that inspire a little ‘healthy’ competition either with yourself or family members. Download an app that uses your ipod, or phone to track your distance, speed, steps or buy a tracking bracelet and see who walks more, or gets there faster. Even kids are getting into the fitness tracking trend and what better way to inspire them to fit a little activity into everyday.
Winter can be very cold and very dark so try to inspire some indoor activities as well that you can enjoy without even leaving your home. Buy a game the whole family can get into like an inexpensive air hockey table, a small ping pong or pool table or a dart board and then teach the kids some hand/eye co-ordination as you enjoy active family time indoors.
Try Something New
Forget gift cards to the mall, how about gift cards for fun experiences that you can enjoy too? There are so many new facilities popping up that encourage getting active and having fun but many times I see the kids participating but not the parents. Buy your kids a pass to the local trampoline park and YOU jump with them! Try out the latest Laser Tag craze and strap on your own laser gun. Visit the nearest rock climbing facility and get yourself up those ropes or take the 1 hour course so you can belay for your kids. Or get dressed warm and find the nearest snow tubing park for some high speed winter action everyone can enjoy.
The best gift for the holidays is one you can share as a family and getting active together is one that keeps on giving. Encourage a lifetime of fun experiences by introducing your family to all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities and show them that Mom and Dad can have fun too!
Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active. Find more inspiring tips on her website Raising Healthy Kids, and Facebook, follow Deb’s new passion Boomer Nutrition as well as her column on Erica Ehm’s YummyMummyClub column Family on the Run.