1. Subscription Boxes
These have exploded over the last couple of years and the range of what is available is always improving. The great thing about a subscription box is it lasts longer than Christmas, the day when no matter how hard you try they are overwhelmed. Think how excited they will be to get their parcel from you in the post. It also works well as many/most of the activities are family ones so they know they also get some parental one 2 one time. There are some great options for little ones;
Little Passports - Comes monthly and offers boxes from age 3 to 9+ The themes are all around travel and exploring, taking your little one around the world, under the sea and into space. The quality of the items looks good and the first month your little one get a mini suitcase containing their pack. £12 per month/ £60 for 6 months / £108 for 12 months
Weekend Box - This comes every fortnight and each one contains something to make, something to bake and something extra. Each box has a a different theme such as; famous artists, Christmas, Antarctica. Each box is £4.95 / £7.50 depending on the number of activities in the box.
Brainboost Box - Developed by Dr Baker a child development expert and mother for ages 2 -12 years, this monthly box is filled with educational fun activities. Each box looks at emotional intelligence, creativity, communication, physical activity and communication. You can order for 1 or 2 children. £8.95 per box or the larger box for £16.99
All of the boxes can be cancelled at any time. There options out there for older children and teens also such as Kick Ass Crates/Makerly/Bright Paper Packages/Creation Crate
2 Annual Passes
This is also a gift that will keep on giving throughout the year and also gives you the chance to tap into your grandchild's/child's passion. Here are a few examples of places that offer an annual pass scheme; Longleat/Folly Farm/Eureka/Life Science Centre/Legoland. There really are so many, in fact too many to make an exhaustive list and if you look around at small local places that don't offer the option there is no harm in asking if they will do one for you.
Again this gift is clutter free and something they can enjoy all year round. It is also an opportunity for you to find out more about them and what they do when they are not visiting you. This has to be a personal gift but here are a few ideas to get you thinking; Geocatching Premium Membership/PSN Card/Lomography Film Club/Wax & Stamp Vinyl Club/RSPCA Junior
As you can see anything from online gaming to records is available. Some memberships offer learning as well as fun such as RSPCA Junior, but my main advice is get chatting now and find something that really pushes their buttons.
This could be at home or if they are going on holiday with you could buy something that they would like to do but could not afford. There are a whole range of things available my only advice is avoid those awful generic experience sites. For older teens who love trains why not get them a footplate experience. Due to health and safety this is for over 18 but steam rails are run by volunteers and they are always in need of cash and I am sure they could put an age appropriate day together for a price! Chester Zoo offer a range of experiences for different ages or you could buy them a monkey breakfast at Trentham Forest.
These are things that people love to buy when they are growing up but pocket money only goes so far so you could cover a magazine or comic subscription for them. If they are into comics they will tell you which one, don't guess trust me I have been the kid on the receiving end of that, you will not be thanked. There are so many special interest magazines out there. If they are small and would like a little guidance in choosing there are some fun but educational options out there such as Whizz Pop Bang or Aquila. You could also go down the book route for avid readers, The Willoughby Book Club offer subscriptions from babies, toddlers, children, young adults and even offer a specialist service for older readers.
This might sound like a fake gift for a grandchild/niece/nephew, but it isn't kids like time, family time even when they are acting cool and pretending they don't they do. Putting together a family night is a great gift as it will also remind your children to slow down and spend time with the kids too. I am a parent, I know this but it never hurts to be reminded. Make a box with a great family game, try Board Game Geek for reviews. You could even pop in packs of posh snacks to sustain them. If they are a competitive bunch who are likely to have fisty cuffs in a game situation try something like Pandemic where they all work together to beat the board, I love it and have been known to be overly obnoxious and competitive in the past this game calms everyone down. If your clan really are not game people try a movie box instead.
Sebastian and I love being out doing things and although I am not a fan of toddlers being hot-housed he actually loves a lot of things that I very loosely call courses. From Forest School (ie playing in mud), to French (ie singing songs and group crafting). I am sure there are many regular meet ups that you go to that add up cost wise. Ask a grandparent to cover that cost as a gift. They are also reminded every week that Grandma and Grandpa are treating them every week and that is a nice way to bring them into your life when you live far away and gives them something to tell them about on Skype. As they get older options are still there; swimming, musical instruments, photography, circus skills. There are so m many fun things to do.