All I want for Christmas…
Enjoying simple holiday rituals plus 5 experience-gifts for adventurous kids in Prague (& their parents)
When Christmas comes around, I start having panic attacks. What should I buy my children? How can I make sure I don’t have to listen to, “No fair! He got more presents than I did!” Can I help my children be grateful for what they have and not mourn what they don’t? Most importantly, how can my family enjoy Prague’s holiday atmosphere without getting hung up on what to get for whom and where to find it?
When my nine-year old’s letter to Santa read, “Dear Santa, I have been pretty nice this year. I would like for this Christmas to be UNFORGETABLE!!!” I realized that it was time to try something different. I wanted to make the holiday special – without spending too much money or acquiring too many new toys or electronics.
I decided that slowing down was best. I hoped my children would appreciate the holiday more if they participated in the rituals leading up to Christmas Day. I wanted them to pay attention, not just write a letter to Santa and try to be good.
As a family, we visited Old Town Square for the Christmas Tree lighting and the opening of the Christmas markets. I bought the kids a hot cinnamon trdelník and myself a mulled wine. We walked through the markets and climbed the lookout tower to admire the tree and the Nativity. We didn’t buy anything, but we talked about which stands we liked best.
Another afternoon, I brought home a plain green Advent wreath and let the kids use the hot glue gun to glue berries, nuts and ribbons onto it. We placed it on the kitchen table and took turns lighting the candles each Sunday. In the kitchen, they rolled, cut out and decorated their own gingerbread cookies without help.
In exchange for doing extra chores, my children earned money to buy gifts for family and friends. We visited the neighborhood bookstore, flower shop and paper store so that each child could find inexpensive gifts or buy art supplies to make their own. It would have been faster to do the shopping myself, but that wasn’t my goal.
In the spirit of giving, we also went online to the website Strom splněných přání, (The Giving Tree) a project that provides Christmas gifts for children living in orphanages in the Czech Republic. Through the parent organization DEJME DĚTEM ŠANCI, children write letters with their specific Christmas wishes. We spent time going through all the wishes and deciding which gift we’d sponsor.
For St. Nicholas on December 5, my kids begged me to let them put on their own Mikuláš show. We invited two neighborhood families for dinner, and my kids prepared a program for their younger Czech friends. Since one parent requested no devils, my kids dressed as Mikuláš and two angels. It was a night with lots of laughs, especially when the neighbors’ children kept saying how sorry they were that my kids had missed seeing Mikuláš.
As the days draw closer to Christmas, I’m looking forward to more holiday rituals – decorating our Christmas tree, having a Christmas carp in the bathtub and watching Czech fairytales. As far as gift-giving goes, I’ve decided that instead of filling the house with more toys, this year, I’m going to give my children the gift of experiencing something new.
If you’re looking for ways to make your child’s Christmas unforgettable (without breaking your bank account), here are a few ideas for experience based gifts.
5 “Experience” Gifts for Adventure-Loving Children
From learning how to make sushi to preparing a multi-course Italian meal, taking snowboard lessons on a simulated ramp or practicing freestyle flips, sharing quality time through an experience with your children could be one way to make their holiday (and yours) an extra-special one.
Chefparade (Prague 3)
The popular Prague cooking school offers a variety of ongoing cooking courses for children with (and without) parental participation. Each course costs 890 CZK/child and lasts approximately 3.5 hours. Let your child learn to cook like Jamie Oliver, prepare cupcakes with her friends or help your infant have his first cooking experience. Birthday parties, special events and sushi making courses available. Children 10+ can visit a course on their own. Vouchers with a special 3+1 promotion run until the end of the year.
Website: www.chefparade.cz (Kurzy pro deti)
Cook & Meet (Prague 6)
Spend a day with other parents and children learning to prepare tasty, healthy Italian recipes in Daniele’s cozy, home environment. Menu includes fresh pasta tagliatelle, "pizza rolls" starters and a creamy dessert. Italian wines for adults and soft drinks. Enjoy meeting new friends and sharing your experiences of life in Prague. Cost is 1290 CZK for 2 (1 adult, 1 child).
Contact: Daniele Toniolo (Director & Chef)
Freestyle Jump Park (Prague 10)
If your child likes high adrenaline and experiencing the latest trends, reserve a family visit to Prague’s Jump Park. Learn the basics of jumping, acrobats, gymnastics and more alongside your child. Or, if you’re looking for a regular free time activity for your child where you can just watch, buy your child a voucher for jumping lessons taught by a trained freestyle instructor. Vouchers of 5, 10 or 20 lessons available. The first training is free.
Website: praha.jumppark.cz/krouzek or en-praha.jumppark.cz (English)
Ski & Snowboard Training plus Freestyle Jumping & Trampoline at Kolbenka Jump Park (Prague 9)
If you don’t have a chance to get your family to the mountains over Christmas, but you still want your children to learn to ski or snowboard, Kolbenka’s year-round Ski &Snb park is a great option. Buy a lesson for your child on Kolbenka’s ski and snowboard Maxxtracks simulator with a trained instructor or book a lesson for yourself too. For children who’d like to combine their Maxxtracks visit with trampoline jumping or time in the freestyle park, buy a combination voucher that includes both. Kolbenka’s website offers a range of gift vouchers and pre-paid point options. Cost is 199 CZK for one hour in the jump park, 699 CZK for individual ski or snowboard lessons or 930 CZK for a group of 2.
Ski & Snb Training: firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 989 289
Slevomat.cz – Gift Certificates
Slevomat.cz is one of the most popular websites in the Czech Republic for good deals at discount prices. If you’d like to simplify your Christmas shopping and give yourself more time with your family, try checking Slevomat’s offerings for an experience-gift.
In the “Rodinna a deti” category, you can purchase vouchers for museum entrances like Karel Zeman’s interactive film-making museum or buy a Choco-Story tour with unlimited chocolate degustation. There are reduced prices for jump parks, aqua parks and miniature golf courses as well as special weekend getaways for the whole family. Although the website is in Czech, it is straightforward and accompanied by pictures.
Wishing you and your family an unforgettable winter holiday!
For tips on traditional Czech toys, read also: Bringing children's toys back to the basics
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