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10:32 AM

2021 Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Gifts That Are Good For The Soul

Written by: Ashley Antle

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be full of FA-LA-LA-LA-lots of stress. Trying to pick the perfect gift for the kids in your life—one that they’ll love and enjoy for more than a minute—can be a tricky guessing game.

We don’t claim to be as toy-savvy as Santa, but if there is one thing we know at Cook Children’s it’s how to make a child smile. So we’ve compiled our favorite gift ideas that are sure to bring hours of fun while also building a stronger mind, body and spirit.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa and get comfy as we help take the guesswork out of your Christmas gift list.

1. A subscription box is a gift that keeps on giving. It seems there is one for every age and interest. Have a fishing enthusiast? There’s a box for that. Does your kid love sports? There’s a box for that. Raising a future engineer or artist? Yep, you guessed it—there are boxes for those, too! Subscription boxes are delivered to your doorstep once a month for however long of a subscription you purchase, so your child will enjoy something new and entertaining well into 2022. Best of all, they’ll know that you support what interests them.

2. A custom journal is the perfect personalized gift for a teen who has a lot on their mind, but finds it easier to write it than to say it. There are multiple sources for custom journals online. Include a special pen in your child’s favorite color and you have a thoughtful gift that says “you’re one-of-a-kind and your hopes, hurts and dreams matter.”

3. Creatives love to create, so make sure they are stocked with essential tools of their trade. Art supplies for the artist. Instruments, home recording equipment or a karaoke machine for the musician. Bags, shoes and apparel for the dancer. Puppets for little performers with big imaginations. The point is to give them something that supports their talents, builds their imagination and offers them a creative outlet.

“Journaling, art, and music are all emotional expression activities,” said Lauren Lasrich, Cook Children’s Child Life specialist. “These activities can help your kids and teens connect with their emotions and be able to express them in a creative way. Giving kids an opportunity to express themselves helps reduce anxiety and stress, as well as share with those around them.”

4. If your athlete is looking to level up their game, shop for smart sports equipment. Smart soccer balls, boxing gloves, basketballs and more connect to a personal device and pair with apps that offer virtual training guides and performance tracking. It’s technology, sports training, exercise and fun all wrapped into one.

5. For the little reader in your life, books are always a good bet. Make it even more personal by putting together a basket full of favorite snacks and a new cozy blanket so that they can curl up with a good book that feeds their mind and imagination on a long winter day.

6. Plan an outing and let the experience be the gift. Wrap up items that provide clues for the experience. As your child opens each clue, have them try to guess the fun that is coming. The experience will give you both valuable time together and a special memory that will last a lifetime.

With almost two years of isolation, spending quality time together is the best gift,” Lasrich said. “While families have spent time together during Covid, being able to safely do novel activities together is important.”

7. The pandemic made all of us home cooks. Even kiddos passed the time away from school and activities by cooking with mom and dad. Give your little chef their own kid-friendly cookbook along with an apron and cooking utensils for small hands. They’ll learn an important life skill and, in a few years, will be cooking dinner for you. That’s what we call a win-win!

8. Robots are all the rage. Kids can build them, code them and interact with them, and they’ll be learning important science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills along the way. There are tons of options on the market for just about every age and skill level. Work together with your child to build it and you might learn a few new STEM skills, too.

9. Winter is coming and that means kids will be spending more time inside with less opportunity to release energy and exercise, so give them a screen-free movement activity they can do indoors. Think table tennis. You don’t have to spring for an actual regulation-size table. You can purchase a kit with paddles and a net that attaches to your kitchen table, or any table you’re willing to turn into a ping-pong court. A weekend tournament on a cold, dreary Saturday spells fun for the whole family. Not into table tennis? Consider a hovering or sliding soccer ball made for indoor use to get those little feet moving.

10. Give JOY. Kids have been through a lot the past few years. The best gift you can give them throughout this season is the encouragement and opportunity to Just breathe, Open up, and know that You matter. Bake cookies together. Build a gingerbread house. Go for a car ride to look at Christmas lights. Shop together for a gift for someone in need. Whatever you do, seize the moment to check in and connect with the ones you love.

Happy shopping! From our Cook Children’s tribe to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with hope today for JOY tomorrow.