Best gifts for families encourage good times, memories

By Stephanie Earls Updated: December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm • Published: December 2, 2013 | 7:00 am 0

Shopping for a family, especially a family that is not your own, can be tough.

How can a single gift satisfy multiple mercurial tastes? And then there are the kids!

The best presents for families, say shopping experts, are the ones that bring everyone together to create and share the gift that really counts: Good memories.

"Dream On" gift (Psst: We won't be getting this one, so the sky's the limit)

$$$+

- Walt Disney World Resort: Like boxed milk and boo-boos, the Disney brand has become synonymous with American childhood. So, too, has its namesake Florida theme park metropolis, opened in 1971 so ponies could have company at the top of childrens' Christmas wish lists.

In the 42 years since the park opened, the pilgrimage to Lake Buena Vista outside Orlando has become a generational tradition among many families. The 30,000-acre complex is now home to numerous resorts and four theme parks, including Magic Kingdom and Epcot. With more than 52 million visitors each year, it is the most visited attraction in the world.

Though Fido isn't allowed into theme parks unless he's a service dog, Disney now provides temporary luxury digs for pets at a "charming retreat offering first-rate accommodations and activities." There's no need for four-legged family members to miss the fun.

And since this is a dream gift, we're going to throw in a 2014 Fleetwood Expedition 38S so our giftees can get to Florida in style. Should save a few bucks on hotel rooms, too.

It's good to be the (pretend) Santa.

Cost: $1,442.02 for five-day tickets with the "Park Hopper Option" for two adults and two children ages 3 to 9

Cost, with optional 2014 Fleetwood Expedition 38S: $266,442.02

Buy: disneyworld.disney.go.com

www.fleetwoodrv.com

"Hope hope" gifts (Still a stretch, but maybe Santa's feeling generous)

$$

- KidzCanDesign. To the untrained eye the drawing might look more like a hairball wearing Keds than a butterfly, but to Mom and Dad, it's the Mona Lisa. Forget bronzing baby shoes to immortalize childhood: KidzCanDesign takes a child's drawing (or photo, or hand-print, signature, etc.), scales it down and reproduces it in sterling-silver pendant form. From there, order one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets, key chains, bookmarks and more.

Cost: $49.99 - $149.99

Buy: www.kidzcandesign.com

- Family membership, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The nation's only mountain zoo, founded in 1926 by Spencer Penrose, is now home to more than 800 animals and a new, $13.5 million Encounter Africa exhibit. The family membership package includes free daytime admission for a year for two adults living in the same household and their children under 18.

Cost: $147.50

Buy: www.cmzoo.org

"List it" gifts (tops of the realistic options)

$

- Family movie night package: Give the gift of a night in with this DIY package stocked with a family-friendly DVD (say, "Despicable Me 2," available Dec. 10), several packs of microwave popcorn and boxed "theater-style" candies for sharing.

Cost: about $30 for a newly released DVD, 2 popcorn packs and three theater-style candies

Buy: Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart

- Qwirkle Board Game by MindWare. This Scrabble-style game of strategy, in which players maneuver to build rows and columns from similar tiles, earned top honors from the Parents Choice Foundation and Mensa for its originality, design and the challenge to players. The game is designed for two or four people ages 6 and up.

Cost: $26.95

Buy: Poor Richard's - Little Richard's Toystore, 324 N. Tejon St.; 578-5848

- Green Eats Feeding Spoons & Forks. These eco-friendly Green Eats utensils are made in the USA entirely from recycled plastic milk containers. Edges are soft and handles easy to grasp for diners still mastering the art of eating.

Cost: $5.99 for an eight-pack

Buy: shop.greentoys.com

-

Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

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