Sleigh bells ring… have you finished your shopping? The weeks leading up to Christmas can be stressful at the best of times, especially if you’ve left your gift shopping to the last minute.
But have no fear, our friends at Nature Play SA have helped us to compile a list of unique gift ideas that are perfect for the nature-lovers in your family – and for those kids who need to spend more time outside and less time in front of the telly.
Experiencing and connecting with nature is an important part of healthy childhood development. It can boost their self-esteem and resilience and improve creativity.
With these gift ideas, not only will the kids have something cool to open on Christmas Day, but you’ll be giving them so much more. Here’s 10 ideas to try this Christmas:
1. Family adventure vouchers
Write your own vouchers for outdoor family adventures and let the kids ‘cash’ them in. Ideas could include visiting your local park, a national park, their favourite spot at the beach, or even an activity in your own backyard – like a cubby building day. Print off and customise this voucher template and you’re all set.
Encourage nature players to observe and explore nature by painting with watercolours. Grab some paints, paper and a set of brushes and they’ll be ready to go.
3. Go on a night walk
Book in for a night walk at Cleland Wildlife Park to see the park's nocturnal inhabitants on a torch and lantern-lit guided experience. Be in the know before you go by checking out our story about the animals you might see when you get there.
If you’re after something closer to home, organise a twilight neighbourhood walk with family and friends – pack your torches and discover the wonders of nature as dusk turns to dark.
4. Body board, surfboard or kayak
Here’s one for the water-lovers. Buy a body board, surfboard or kayak, or even a skim disk for shallower water. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune – try your nearest variety store, outdoor adventure shop, or specialty shop, or look for a second-hand option. Then all you need to do is decide where to go. Head to the river, your nearest beach, or get the best of both worlds by hitting the surf at a national park along the coast.
5. Fairy garden
Make a hamper of ingredients for the nature players in your family to make their own special fairy garden or miniature garden. Dedicate a spot in the backyard and give them a selection of items such as small potted plants and flowers, pebbles, shells, a small container or dish for a pond, twigs and other ornaments, and let their imaginations run wild.
6. Children’s gardening tools
Nurture little green thumbs with a set of children’s garden tools, such as a watering can, hand fork and trowel.
7. Nature potion kit
Visit an op shop or garage sale and buy some old pots, pans, teapots and utensils to create a tinkering kit. Just add water, dirt and other bits and pieces from the garden, like pebbles, gum nuts and leaves, and the kids can make up a nature potion. It’s the perfect option for hands-on sensory fun.
8. Mask and snorkel set
Encourage adventures on the surface and under the sea with a mask and snorkel set. Then book in a day to head to your nearest marine park and see whether you can find some of South Australia’s weirdest-looking sea creatures.
9. Slip ‘n’ slide
Hello water play! Gift a slip ‘n’ slide for hours of outdoor fun in the warmer months! Best of all, you’ll be making the most of your own backyard.
10. National parks pass
Want to get the family outside and into more of SA’s amazing national parks? Invest in a multiple entry parks pass for 2- or 12- months access into 10 of SA's most beautiful parks, and get ready to explore!
Want more nature-inspired Christmas ideas? Check out this list of native plants perfect for an Aussie Christmas.
This story was originally posted in December 2017.