Family Gift Ideas to Enjoy Indoors


Family gift ideas for indoors:
fun activities for a stormy day
...or ANY day!


Books, Books, Books!

Many families love read-aloud time. Books and stories that are suitable for all ages will hold everyone's interest!


Fun and Games

With help, even young children can play games that won't totally bore their parents. Picture-bingo and similar matching games are good young-family gift ideas, as are simple board games like Parcheesi that involve racing game pieces to a finish line.

For children big enough to manage playing cards, a few decks with fun designs are an affordable family gift idea. Easy-to-learn games like War and Crazy Eights amuse all ages. Older kids can offer their parents a challenge with Uno. To develop reading and spelling skills, Quiddler (and a dictionary) make an entertaining vocabulary builder for everyone; and cribbage sharpens math skills.

For all-age family gift ideas, you won't go wrong with favorite classics like Yahtzee, Monopoly, Boggle, Risk, Scrabble, Backgammon, or Pictionary - games that young kids will "grow into." Settlers of Catan, a favorite with our extended family, has caught on rapidly with everyone we know. A classic board game in a high quality collector's edition makes a handsome gift for a family.

There's nothing like chess for developing concentration skills and the ability to anticipate the consequences of actions. Quality chess boards are made of wood, marble, leather, and even a vinyl rollup style. When set up with themed chess pieces, the game can be a work of art!

TIP #1: A family tournament is lots of fun. Whether it consists of a variety of games or several rounds of a single game, prizes heighten everyone's interest. Second, third, and dead-last-but-finished awards make everyone feel like a winner. A bag of treats or favors for prizes is a nice add-on gift idea for a family game set.

TIP #2: My son Stephen and I have kept a running Yahtzee score since 1989, at a penny a point. When he was eleven, I'd hoped to retire on my winnings, but now he wins so often that he may retire first - ha! A spiral-bound notebook keeps long-term scoring tidy and builds a tournament history that will gratify the children as their skills improve.

To encourage physical activity indoors, Twister is fun for almost all ages (except very small kids and maybe grannies). Family gift ideas for fitness, such as exercise balls and exercise mats might be just the thing, along with a few exercise DVDs.

For music lovers (who isn't?), a karaoke machine will get them up and dancing between turns at the mike. For the family with enough space, a ping pong table is a big-budget gift idea to keep them active. A family membership at a local gym or YMCA/YWCA will offer your recipients a variety of active indoor programs.


Everyone enjoys a good movie

A DVD player is a good place to start, if your recipient family doesn't have one (we'll assume they have a television screen). Loads of movies are fun for all ages: Wallace and Gromit films, The Muppets movies and TV series, and National Geographic documentaries are entertaining family gift ideas for young and old.

With a gift subscription to Netflix, your recipients can choose their own movies - you might tuck the announcement inside a gift of popcorn or other munchies. Choose unlimited movies & TV episodes streamed over the Internet to your computer, Wii or any other device that streams from Netflix, or DVDs sent one-at-a-time by mail with a postage-paid return envelope. A subscription to either plan is a reasonable $7.99 per month, both for $15.98.


Family Gift Ideas for the Kitchen

In many homes, the kitchen is the de facto living room. People like to eat, and preparing the food can be half the fun! Your recipients may develop a family specialty, or each member might become the proud family expert on the food he or she likes best.

TIP #3: Very small kids will enjoy patting out refrigerated biscuit dough and decorating it with raisins.

  • Cookbooks - Try some that are dedicated to single types of food - breads, omelets, soups, apple recipes, appetizers, ethnic dishes, and so on.


  • Aprons and/or chef hats for everyone - choose matching aprons/sets, or a different one reflecting each recipient's personality or favorite food. You may wish to have them monogrmmed or custom embroidered with a family crest or logo.


  • Special equipment - Here are some more suggestions that your recipient family may not already have:

    • Pizza stone
    • Wok and stir-fry utensils
    • Ice Cream maker
    • Fondue pot and forks
    • Waffle iron
    • Sandwich press grill
    • Bread maker

  • Decorate the Fridge - Choose decorative magnets to anchor kids' drawings, or magnetic frames to hold photos or postcards. For ongoing amusement, a set of magnetic words can be arranged and rearranged to compose poetry, cross-match famous sayings, and make up quips or photo captions. For kids under age 3, choose large-piece magnet sets to prevent choking.


  • Message Center - You have lots of choices here: note holder and pen, dry-erase board, bulletin board or chalk board, perhaps with a fold-down writing surface. These family gift ideas will help busy days run smoothly, with messages and reminders all in one place (near the phone is best).


Gifts for Indoor Family Hobbies

Little kids love to "help" with parents' projects. Conversely, kid stuff often continues to intrigue adults. Here are some family gift ideas that adults and teens enjoy, and that younger kids can learn by doing:

  • Anything that involves painting has a Tom Sawyer effect - everyone will want to get in on the act! (Let the baby finger paint the high-chair tray with a bit of yogurt or pudding.) How about a mural on the playroom wall? You can purchase a paint-by-numbers mural kit or materials for the family to trace and transfer their own designs.


  • A family website (maybe the kids will teach the parents!) Family members can each build a section to express their individual interests as they choose. A family website can also pay for special family treats or luxuries (See how websites can earn income).


  • Collectibles - Add to your recipient family's collection or start them on a new one with a gift suited to their interests. A display rack, shelf, case, stand, album or other display/storage accessory will enhance the family collection.


  • Models (the kind you build, not swimsuit models!) and Jigsaw puzzles come in various difficulty levels. For families with older kids, try a 3-D puzzle. Shared building projects are satisfying family gift ideas that can teach the kids new skills.


  • Aquarium - Tropical fish are more fascinating than many realize - we used to have a Siamese fighting fish that would eat from our fingers; it felt like a tiny kiss! But first, please, run the idea past a parent whenever pets are involved.


  • Electric trains or slot cars - We know one dad who cut tunnels through a wall, with O-gauge tracks running at waist level around two rooms. What an absorbing hobby for him and his family!


  • Arts & Crafts materials - for a craft they already enjoy, or to introduce a new one, the Klutz books are engagingly written, and many include supplies. There's a huge selection of crafts and activities for all ages. We've made Tissue Paper Flowers, Window Art, Draw Thumb Things, Twirling Papers, Crayon Rubbings, Hand Art, Totally Tape... all are excellent! Extra materials and refills are available too.


Around the House

  • Family Portrait - Working from your photo(s), My DaVinci will create individual or group portraits in a choice of styles, from pencil sketches to caricatures to oil paintings.


  • Matching clothes show family spirit. Matching hats or T-shirts help folks figure out who belongs to whom at family reunions and community events. Matching pjs and slippers, however, are probably better worn at home!


  • Conversation Starter - In many busy families, shared meals and dinnertable discussion are becoming a lost art. At the table or in the car, Table Topics will get the discussion flowing with thought-and-opinion-provoking questions.


  • Learning Together - Here's a family gift idea that even the baby can share. A Sign Language video or DVD, or a subscription for online lessons is perfect for all ages. Long before they can speak, babies can understand language and learn to sign (Learn more about babies and sign language!).

    Older siblings will enjoy signing secrets in front of their friends. Teens should know that some American colleges give foreign language credit for American Sign Language (ASL). Best of all, skill with ASL is in demand for volunteer and paid positions in theaters, courtrooms and at public gatherings.


Family gift ideas optimize quality family time.
They also optimize your gift budget!


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Logo photo by Jane M. Sawyer, courtesy of morguefile.com
Other graphics this page courtesy of Klutz and Microsoft.