Spend some time with your favorite sweethearts taking advantage of all the Valentine’s Day activities in the Twin Cities – many of them FREE or low-cost. Here are 10 ideas to get you started, including (if you stick with us til the end) a super simple cookie recipe and inspiration for crafty gifts:
I think, like a lot of parents, I dream of having a home that is more of a cozy little landing pad for our adventures than a storage facility for our stuff. So I have been collecting up ideas for clutter-free gifts of adventure through membership to museums and other fun places.
If you are an out-of-town grandparent, membership gifts are ideal. Your grandchildren will look forward to your visits so you can enjoy your gift together; plus they will enjoy it with their parents the rest of the year. Furthermore, your children will tell all their friends that you are so much cooler than the grandparents who bought loud, battery-powered, plastic toys that end up in the garbage heap we call a toy box. Trust me on this. Read More
Handcraft Holiday Gifts can be extra special when the creative process is half the fun! We’ve rounded up seven local spots where your kids can mess up someone else’s space, let their imaginations run wild, and craft some serious masterpieces this holiday season:
Offers: Saturday, Dec 3, Articulture opens its doors for a free studio art day in conjunction with the annual Seward Winter Frolic. Make ornaments, cards & garlands, all ages plus cookies and cider.
Color Me Mine, Eagan & Maple Grove
Offers: Young artists have a whole palette of choices here – they can drop in to paint ceramics, spend a Kids Night Out (3rd Fri/each month, $32/child ages 5+ includes painting, pizza, games, and a movie – EAGAN location only) or Paint With Santa (both Eagan & Maple Grove locations).
Cost: Drop in studio fees are $5/ages 1-9, $6/ages 10-15, $10/ages 16+ and include use of paints, studio space, and the firing.
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Brooklyn Park
Offers: Elves Workshop gives kids the chance to craft gifts by hand with supplies and instructions provided. Event takes place 12/17, reservations required by 12/13.
Created to Grow, St. Anthony
Offers: Every Saturday is Family Fun Day here – from 10:30am-1:30pm all ages can drop by to work on a variety of projects. Gifts for the grandparents perhaps?
Cost: $15 per session, discounts if you purchase a pack of 10 family visits
Offers: Monthly preschool festivals, drop-in crafts and a comfortable, child-friendly environment to spend some time. Browse their Holiday Gift Digest, filled with 30 holiday projects from tabletop reindeer to wood-burned picture frames, that can be given as handmade gifts.
Cost: Most drop-in crafts are priced between $10-$20 apiece.
Offers: In addition to the menu of kids classes and the wide range of quality playthings the store offers, come check out the Maker’s Studio, a space dedicated to letting little ones get creative.
Cost: $8/child per hour ages 18 mon-10 years, open daily 10am-5:30pm.
Leonardo’s Basement, Minneapolis
Offers: Elf Apprenticeship Program: Holiday Gift Making lets tinkerers ages 6-12 choose from a wide range of projects – sewing, woodworking, stained glass, jewelry making and more – to craft homemade holiday presents. Dates: Nov 26-27 & Dec 3-4. Pre-registration required.
Michaels, various Twin Cities locations
Offers: Kids Club crafts are simple and inexpensive yet could lend a nice personal touch to a small gift. Drop in Saturdays 10am-noon during Nov and Dec to make felt ornaments, clay pot elves and other holiday themed items.
Cost: $2 per project, supplies included
Rumriver Art Center, Anoka
Offers: Free Family Art Day will take place Saturday, Dec 3. Two sessions are available (11am-noon or 1-2pm) and reservations are required either by calling 763.323.8830 or using this form. The hour-long class is appropriate for kids ages 5+ with a caregiver and the holiday-themed project will be something suitable to give as a gift.
Simply Jane, Minneapolis
Offers: Toddler Time Thursdays from 10am-noon are suitable for your littles to create a homemade holiday gift. Experiment with paint, play with toys, books, dress-up and more. The studio also offers drop-in painting for all ages; hours can be found here.
Cost: Toddler Time is $10 per child.
When: Ongoing Sat Nov 5-Feb 25, 2017 • 6-9pm
Cost: $15/pp, family rates available, children 4 & under FREE
Details: A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, Night Trains season magically transforms the museum layouts. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights.
Nature Arts & Crafts Fair @ Richardson Nature Center, Bloomington
When: Saturday, Nov 5 • 10am-3pm
Cost: Free admission
Details: Local artisans of jewelry, felting, painting and more display their wares; afterward enjoy the park reserve. All vendor fees donated to the VEAP-Bloomington Food Shelf.
Santa’s Arrival Ceremony @ Mall of America
Details: The holiday season officially kicks off at Mall of America with Santa’s Arrival Ceremony. Santa will be greeted in holiday style with live performances.
When: Sunday, Nov 13 • noon-5pm
Details: Explore Nordic holiday traditions, see the historic Turnblad Mansion decked out for the season, and join in family craft activities. Included with museum admission.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical @ Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins
When: Runs Nov 18-Dec 28, 2016
Cost: $25/pp, $5/lap passes for children ages 3-4, under 3 are free. Nov 20 is pay-what-you can day for this particular performance. These special accessible tickets are available at the box office only.
Holiday Open House featuring Santa & Albert’s Arrival and Annual Holiday Play
@ Bachman’s on Lyndale, Minneapolis
When: Saturday, Nov 19 • 9am-4pm
Details: Join us as we welcome Santa and his sleigh Saturday morning and kick off the holiday season! Visit Bachman’s on Lyndale for treats, shopping, and season’s greetings during store hours. Kids can visit the live reindeer corral and stop by the craft counter for crafts and activities. Cookies, juice, and coffee available for snacking! And of course, see the annual Santa & Albert holiday play at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm and 3:30pm.
Rice Park Tree Lighting Ceremony, St. Paul
When: Nov 19 • 5pm
Details: Rice Park sparkles with thousands of twinkling lights! The tree will be up through January 1, 2017. The other lights will stay up and illuminate the park through the end of the Winter Carnival.
Holiday Lights in the Park @ Phalen Regional Park, St. Paul
When: Runs nightly Nov 22-Jan 1, 2017 • 5-10pm
Cost: $10 cash per vehicle at gate or $8 online ticket only
Details: All of the net proceeds from the event will be distributed to a community non-profit. 60 holiday light sculptures and animated displays entertain guests as they cruise through the park in the evening hours.
When: Wednesday, Nov 23 • 6-6:45pm
Details: Making an appearance are local choirs, refreshments, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, 200,000+ lights, and a 30-foot-tall tree.
Holidazzle begins @ Loring Park, Minneapolis
When: Begins Friday, Nov 25 • 5-9m
Details: Holidazzle has moved to Loring Park, is offering free admission to all, and there will be vendors, activities, food, and fireworks for all. Holidazzle will run Thurs-Sun from 5-9pm on Thursdays & Fridays and 11am-9pm Saturdays & Sundays through Dec. 22, 2016.
When: Friday, Nov 25 – Sunday, Nov 27
Details: Family highlights include the Grand Lighting & Santa Parade (11/26), Christmas at the Folsom House (11/25-27), storytime with Mrs. Claus and wagon rides.
Tree Lighting Ceremony @ 50th & France, Edina
When: Saturday, Nov 26
Details: Holiday Market is open 12-5pm followed by tree lighting, carolers and visits with Santa.
While Family Fun Twin Cities is not a website focused on family volunteering, we like to feature family volunteer opportunities in November because we believe giving back with your family can be a lot of fun and teach important lessons. We have collected ten different opportunities to volunteer with kids.
Other ideas can be found here.
October 31-November 4, 2016
• Candy for Troops/Books for Kids @ Fairview Clinics throughout the metro • Even the littlest goblins can bring Halloween candy into a clinic this week to donate to the military troops overseas. For your donation, you will receive a new book and bless our service men and women who would love a little taste of home. Read More
Christmas is just around the corner. Maybe this year you are hoping to support local businesses or other family businesses. We want to do the same, so we have collected some of our favorite local businesses and artisans as well as some of our favorite ethical companies in this Christmas Shopping Guide. Read More
Back-to-school shopping sends shivers up my spine. I just spent over $100 buying school supplies for my kids. And we didn’t even get everything on the list. Who knew that notebooks and crayons could add up so quickly. Our cart was full, but it wasn’t overflowing.
With the school supplies purchased and ready to go, it’s time to consider back-to-school clothes. After spending so much on folders and pencils, we really gotta be careful and stick to our budget. There are some great alternatives to the mall, department stores or even Target that can help you keep the prices down. Read More
How will you be celebrating Dad this Father’s Day? If your plans include time spent together, here are some ideas around town to make his day extra special:
FATHER’S DAY EVENTS – FREE FOR THE FAMILY
6/18: Father’s Day Storytime with David LaRochelle @ Wild Rumpus Books, Minneapolis • 11am • Details: Celebrate Father’s Day with a special storytime. David will share his new picture book, Monster & Son and make sure to grab a treat.
6/19: Target Free 3rd Sunday @ Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul • 9am-5pm • Details: Take Dad to explore the museum free, including the newest exhibit digiPlayspace. Keep in mind that the museum is currently under renovation and many exhibits are currently closed.
FATHER’S DAY EVENTS – FREE FOR DAD
Father’s Day Weekend @ Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River • Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm • Details: Dads free when accompanied by a child; help with building and repairs around the farm, care for the livestock and more activities.
Themed Living History Event: Ma and Pa Weekend @ The Landing, Shakopee • Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm • Details: One parent FREE (Dad!) with purchase of child’s admission. Historic baseball games on Sunday and other living history immersive activities.
6/19: Fathers Free Admission @ American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis • noon-5 pm • Details: On Father’s Day, June 19, dads and grandpas get free ASI admission! Current exhibitions Quilting Art Today and Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic: A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food and People. (I can’t find this deal on their website, but it was in 6/14/16 newsletter).
FATHER’S DAY EVENTS – PAID
6/19: Father’s Day Discount @ Bunker Beach Water Park, 550 Bunker Lake Blvd NW, Andover • 11am-7pm • Details: Make a Dad sized splash this Father’s Day. Enjoy 50% off admission when you bring your dad. Not valid with any other offers or coupon.
MORE IDEAS ON CELEBRATING WITH DAD
6/17-19: Stone Arch Bridge Festival, Minneapolis • Family highlights: Take a stroll across the bridge to seek out the Family Activities Area with birdhouse-building, games, and a family photo opp. While in the area, arm yourself with 10 Things for Kids: Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.
6/17-19: GermanFest Minnesota, @ Historic Schmidt Brewery, 900 7th St W, St. Paul • Family highlights: Kids can make FREE Father’s Day cards in the Art Tent on Fri (4-7pm) & Sat (10am-6pm) plus daily music and maypole dances.
6/19: Ski Otter’s Water Ski Show @ White Bear Lake’s Little Goose Lake • 6 pm • Details: Little Goose Lake is located at the intersection of Hwy. 61 and County Road F in White Bear Lake.
GIFTS FOR DAD
(Made from supplies around your house)
- “Love You To Pieces” Picture Frame• Build a square with popsicle sticks and glue. Around the square glue puzzle pieces to cover the popsicle sticks. Cut out a nice label and write “Love You to Pieces”. Glue it on the bottom of the frame.
- Dad Poster • Cut out large letters for D-A-D. Approximately 4 inches wide by 6 inches high. Ask each child why he/she loves dad and write on strips of paper. Glue all pieces to a large piece of poster board. Add a string on the back to hang it on the wall.
- Nuts About Dad• Fill a clean jar with Dad’s favorite nuts. Use this label that reads, “We’re Nuts about you Dad” and paste it on the front with washi tape or glue.
More ideas from around the internet
This post is sponsored by
More Family Fun Ideas:
Want more great ideas? Check out Family Planning, FFTC’s Monthly Newsletter.
Stephanie Watson is a native Minnesotan who grew up immersing herself in stories: reading, watching TV, acting in Children’s Theatre Company shows and spending lots of time at the library. She is a local author who teaches writing classes and does picture book critique work as well.
Most importantly, she is happy to be a soul parent. (Trust me, it’s most definitely soul and not sole–her heart and humor is two sizes too big)
She and her 5 year old daughter (who shares my birthday!) live in Minneapolis.
We are pumped to have Stephanie on BookHounds this month as she is a dynamic mama with a really cool job. She talks about what it’s like to be an author and how they foster reading in their home.
For more information, see the Show Notes below.