10 Gifts That Don’t Involve More ‘Stuff’

I don’t know about you but I’m already getting a bit anxious about all the ‘stuff’ that is about to come into my home in a little over a month’s time.  You know what I’m talking about:  toys.  Plastic toys that emit random, repetitive, rage-inducing noises, toys that will break approximately one week after they are removed from their packaging, toys that will lay forgotten in the playroom corner by February, toys, toys, toys.

We know how overwhelming it is for our families to find just the right gift for our kids (heck…it’s hard enough for us to know what to get them) so this year we will encourage family members to offer gifts of experience rather than stuff.  Here are a few ideas that might work for your family:

Time

An afternoon with the gift giver – movie, mini-golf, bowling, skating, skiing, museum, pedicure, afternoon tea at the Chateau Laurier, etc.

Lessons

My boys have been asking for karate lessons for months now (I suspect this has something to do with Power Rangers).  This seemed like a good idea until I researched some options.  Turns out karate is quite an expensive sport, as most sports are.  Why not get family members to contribute to lessons?  Other options:  skiing, snowboarding, musical instrument, cooking, etc.

Museum Memberships

Skiing/snowboarding lift passes

There are many great hills in and around Ottawa, such as:

Mont Cascades

Vorlage

Camp Fortune

Edelweiss

Recreation

Recreation gift certificates from the City of Ottawa : Can be used towards literally hundreds of activities across the city (including March Break camps).

Sports Equipment

Even better than new, try Play It Again Sports or ask in your Buy Nothing group!

Entertainment tickets

Ottawa Senators 

Ottawa 67s 

NAC 

Shenkman Arts Centre,Centrepointe Theatre 

Ottawa Little Theatre

Movie gift certificates

Art lessons

4 cats 

Mud Oven 

Monart Art School of Ottawa

Ottawa School of Art

Their very own star

Buy them a star and name it after them: https://www.starregistry.ca/ (my oldest son would think this is the coolest thing ever!)

Toy Rentals

A toy rental from PlaneteFun. Host a sleepover or fun party for a group of your child’s friends, and rent something really fantastic!

Hockey Mom: Empowering Life Lessons

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern WorldThis post originally appeared here.

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Having woken my son at 5am on a Saturday morning, I’ve fed him and got him out the door to sit in a cold rink where I wait for his hockey practice to begin with the mug of coffee that I cling to for warmth and solace. I joke with the other parents, “Who thought this was a good idea?” Yet, we’ve been coming back for 7 years.

Over the course of the 7 years my son has participated in NMHA activities and teams, Matthieu, has grown and learned so much. When he first started playing at the age of 5 as a little Timbit, he could barely skate and after 3 months of the early wake-ups, the complaining that this was too hard and the helmet was heavy and itchy, and watching him flop on the ice and finish all of the drills last, that protective parent doubt began to creep in and I was beginning to think that maybe this was not such a great idea. Then, miraculously, in what seemed like the space of a week, he went from barely standing to flying across the ice. He was sliding, gliding, and having fun. He was hooked!

As a parent, I was happy for him that he was enjoying his new skills which I knew could provide him with a lifetime of opportunity for physical activity and comradery but even more so, I was thrilled that he was learning a very important life lesson. Without knowing it, he was learning so much more than how to skate: he was learning that even when something isn’t easy, you stick with it until you succeed. He was learning to be resilient. And, you know what? I was learning something, too. I was learning the importance of letting him struggle so that he could become resilient. I was learning that my role of Mom wasn’t just to protect him, but to provide him opportunities where he could learn to be resilient in a safe space.

Since these first beginnings, our learning has continued and Matthieu has blossomed. He has learned the satisfaction of belonging to a team and arriving at practice to welcoming cheers of, “Yeah, Matthieu is here!” and I have learned to be grateful that he has a space where he belongs. He is learning that you don’t always win your games, but that it sure is fun to play, and I have learned that it’s ok to let him be disappointed in his losses and to cheer him on anyways. He has learned the value of seeing the bigger picture (what all is going on around me on the ice); of collaborating on plays and of sharing (the puck, the defeat, and the glory), and I have learned to step back and let him have the space to try, to fail and to succeed.

Hockey has brought Matthieu a common ground for conversation with people of all ages, an excellent way to stay fit and healthy, and perhaps most importantly, a lot of joy. As a parent, aside from watching my son grow and learn about hockey and about life, and being happy that he has found an activity that makes him happy, I appreciate that the NMHA has brought us the opportunity to meet and chat with other wonderful hockey families. Hope to see you at the rink sometime, too!

Celebrate a farm-tastic birthday at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

If you’re looking for a memorable, hands-on experience for your child’s next birthday party, look no further than the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. They don’t “horse around” when it comes to birthday parties…they take fun seriously!

The excitement begins with a special tour of the animal barns, led by a knowledgeable museum guide. Children enjoy face-to-face interaction with the farm animals — including calves, rabbits, chickens, and horses — while your guide discusses animal habits and routines. Animal experiences are subject to seasonal changes (spring is lamb season!). Of course, we’re always happy to answer questions about the animals from curious, young minds.

Each two-hour birthday party also includes a game and a craft, as well as making and eating a delicious treat. Choose from two “udderly amazing” party themes:

  • A MOOving Experience: An ice cream-making party (for kids ages three-12)

  • Pizza Party: A pizza-making party (for kids ages five to 12)

Are “ewe” ready to join us? The 2018-2019 calendar is filling up fast – visit our website for pricing details and to reserve your party. They also offer free party invitations – just download and print!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.

Family Fun at Room Escape Ottawa

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Two years ago,  I didn’t understand all the buzz about escape rooms.  The concept of locking yourself up in a room and having to escape within a certain time seemed crazy to me.

My perspective totally changed when we recently tried an escape room in Kingston, Ontario. Our family had a great time searching for clues and working together. It left us wanting to find an escape room closer to home in Ottawa.

We checked online and found one close to our house that looked like fun,  Room Escape Ottawa. There were five different rooms to choose from with three being listed as youth-friendly. Despite our son, David’s, protests to try the scariest room, we all settled on Boom Room. The description listed the room as being a rigged enemy bunker that was timed to explode with only sixty minutes to escape. Our house has a similar feel in the morning to get everyone up and out the door on time so I thought our chances were good.

We arrived at Room Escape on Bank Street and found out it was in the same facility and business as Archery Games Ottawa. I wondered if perhaps we did not finish the room on time, we might have to do archery games without a bow and arrow!

We were greeted by our escape room host who went over some of the procedures and gave us the scenario. We entered the room and quickly got to work. The room was dimly lit except for a red emergency light giving the space the feel of a World War II bunker. It was authentically decorated with camouflage and other military paraphernalia.

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We were also provided with a walkie-talkie where we could request assistance. Clues were provided either via a television or our host would come in to assist. I thought this was a great feature especially for those with younger kids as it could be frustrating to be stuck on one puzzle for too long.   

I do not want to give away too much of the escape room in case you try it, but let’s just say there were many different elements including cracking codes, interpreting a board game and diffusing bombs. Ultimately, we did not make it all the way out of the room but got very close.

This experience is a great way to teach problem-solving skills, working together and generally just having a great time.   

Room Escape Ottawa has two other rooms which are suggested for the younger set. Stranded explores being stuck on an alien planet while another De-Composed is listed as being Canada’s first multiplayer virtual reality escape room.

We will certainly be back to Room Escape Ottawa whether to try out another escape room or archery games.  I still don’t think anyone from their staff could escape our house as quickly as we do on a Monday morning!    

The Hockey Sweater: A Musical

Many Canadians, young and old, are familiar with Roch Carrier’s story, The Hockey Sweater. In 1940s Quebec, life centred around school, church and the hockey rink and every kid wore the number 9 Habs sweater as a tribute to the legendary Maurice Richard. But when young Roch outgrows his, he’s mistakenly sent a Maple Leafs sweater instead…

Roch Carrier’s timeless tale, The Hockey Sweater, has been transformed into an energetic and magical musical for the whole family. Presented as part the National Art’s Centre Holiday programming , The Hockey Sweater: A Musical is suitable for all ages and the story of finding your own way in the world will resonate with hockey fans and theatre lovers alike.

The Hockey Sweater is not only a great way to introduce kids to the fun of musicals, but it’s also a fun way for fans of opposing hockey teams to come together and celebrate what everyone can agree has become a classic Canadian tale!

Don’t miss out! Make The Hockey Sweater a part of your holiday plans this December! Tickets start at only $29 and the show runs from December 5th to the 23rd. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the NAC official website.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the National Arts Centre.