Clutter-free gift ideas for Chicago families

My children have three aunts and uncles, five great aunts and uncles, dozens of cousins, plus grandparents and school parties with gift exchanges. We could skip gifts in our house all together and they would not be without. When you multiply those numbers by four kids, it equals the potential for an influx of a whole lot of stuff. Whether you are a minimalist, have a large family, a small house or just a general desire for less stuff, there are plenty of ways that you can give (and receive) great gifts that won’t add to the clutter.

Long-term memberships

Last year we were gifted a membership to the Museum of Science and Industry. It may be one of the best gifts we’ve ever gotten. As a family of six, museum outings are expensive endeavors. A family membership has allowed us to visit this amazing museum–a favorite of our kids–multiple times this year. Chicago is full of museums so there are options for whatever interests your family.

Think outside of the building: You can get memberships to zoos and waterparks, too!

Indoor fun

Winters in Chicagoland are long and bitter. Aside from taking my child for a day to run laps in a warm indoor fieldhouse while I sit at home and take a nap, a prepaid pass to an indoor play place is the next best thing. Bounce houses like Bella’s Bouncies Indoors (Lake Villa) or Jump Zone, Funtopia (Glenview), The Little Gym or Yu Kids Island (Schaumburg and Vernon Hills) will give little ones hours of fun and parents hours of winter relief.

Teens’ most-wanted

For teens and tweens on your list, think beyond the iTunes gift card. Gift cards for movies are offered by Marcus Cinemas, Classic CinemasRegal Cinemas and many smaller local theaters. Other ideas would be indoor mini-golf locations and bowling alleys. Big kids need to move, too! Trampoline parks like Jump America, Sky High Sports and Rockin’ Jump will get them out of the house and having active fun. For the extreme thrill seekers, consider a prepaid trip to iFly and let them go skydiving inside.

Tickets, please

Adults aren’t the only ones hoping to snag tickets for the holidays (Hamilton anyone?). Chicagoland is full of great theaters featuring shows perfect for all ages. Theater not their thing? From minor league baseball to amazing female athletes, your sports-loving kid can take in live games that won’t break the bank. And don’t forget places like Bristol Renaissance Fair and Medieval Times. Both are fun for the whole family and combine the thrill of sport with the pageantry of theater.

Fueling passion

If the child in your life loves music, art and acting, help fuel those interests by gifting them classes or workshops. From dance to robotics, many studios offer one-week or even one-day intensives to help hone specific skills.

Everyone needs a pet unicorn

Okay, not really a unicorn, but you can give them a favorite animal through an adopt-an-animal program at Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo or the World Wildlife Federation. Pair it with an aforementioned membership and they can visit their new “pet,” too!

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