Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Monday: Holiday Gift Ideas

Scrambling to finish up your holiday shopping? I've asked Big and Little C&G to recommend some of their favorite things that would appeal to fellow young adventurers. Of course they're all travel related, but the good news for you and your budget is that none of them require passports or expensive airline tickets.

Scotland Yard is a great board game for kids ages 10 and up and takes you all across London by tube, taxi, or bus in search of the mysterious Mr. X. You've got 24 chances to track him down as he escapes by any mode of transportation, even a boat ride down the Thames, à la David Beckham in the London Olympics. One player gets to be the slippery Mr. X, he moves about in secret and surfaces only three times in the 24 moves, so the rest of the players need to work together as a team to figure out where he's hiding.

Big C&G loves this game, especially because he remembers all the famous landmarks from our trip to London last July. It's a bit complicated for Little C&G (age 8) so one of us will team up with him to catch the bad guy. I love it because the playing pieces look like martini glasses. Shaken, not stirred please.

I've joked in the past about how Little C&G checks out all the security cameras and guards whenever we go into an art museum (should I be worried? Don't your kids do this too?), so it's no wonder he loves the game ArtShark! There's no board so clear yourselves a place on the table and be ready to deal in real and forged artwork.

Collect famous paintings from different periods in art history to add to your gallery. Every piece of art has a matching forgery, and you want to try and replace your opponents masterpieces with a fake one. This lowers the value of their gallery, and at the end of the game the player with the most valuable collection wins. It's no wonder Little C&G has been highly successful at this one.

ArtShark! is recommended for ages 8 and above and it's a great way to get them interested in art. If you let them be the "banker" at the end of the game to tally up the collection values you'll get in a math lesson as well as an art history lesson.

Sometimes I worry our Lego collection outnumbers the entire supply of the Danish population. Sets have long since been disassembled and the little C&Gs have moved on to their own creations, but I love the Brick City book when they need some new ideas and inspiration.

Brick City gets them familiar with global icons, like the red telephone boxes of Britain or the gondolas of Venice, along with landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Roman coliseum. Directions and parts lists are very clear, and even if you don't have the exact colors shown to create your very own Palace of Versailles, the French will never know.

All of these items were found at our local toy store, but you might have to resort to the elves at Amazon as the days count down and the store shelves empty out. Stay tuned tomorrow for some more of the little C&Gs recommendations, the boys have picked out some of their favorite books and activities to help make those holiday car rides a little more enjoyable. And I'm not leaving the grown ups out of the holiday gift giving, I'll get Mr. C&G to chime in with his favorite barware essentials. Until then, cheers and happy shopping!

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