Members only: Gifts that occupy zero space, provide hours of fun and get kids out of the house

Story Image

Beautiful bubbles: At Gymboree Play & Music, kids will love interacting with each other while they learn new skills and have fun playing. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

Most parents can attest to the incredible amount of living space that is lost to toys and kid-centered items. As the holiday season rolls around the corner, the idea of receiving or purchasing more multi-hued presents for your child seems a bit overwhelming. A membership is the ideal gift because it provides quality entertainment, the card fits in your wallet and, if you’re truly lucky, you can get a little alone time while someone else brings your kid out on an adventure. Here are some places that delight children and bring a sigh of peace to well deserving parents:

My Gym: both kids and parents benefit

My Gym offers fitness and art classes for children of various ages, with locations all over the Chicagoland area including: Aurora, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, River Forest, Skokie and Wheaton. My Gym even runs a kid fun-filled Parents’ Night Out session for folks that are overdue for a date night.

“Children are inundated with toys, video games and other tangible gifts especially around the holidays,” said Lisa Miroballi, owner of My Gym in Wheaton. “Give the gift of fitness and fun and invest in your child’s overall health and happiness. Anyone can gift My Gym memberships or classes in any amount. For Parents’ Night Out, parents can gift themselves a night out while the kids are having a blast playing games and staying fit.”

Gymboree Play & Music: mom’s little helper

Little tykes from birth to age five will love the instructor-led music, art, sports and play-focused classes at Gymboree Play & Music. South Barrington, Chicago, Vernon Hills, Skokie and Northbrook all have Gymboree Play & Music locations that offer special deals, discounts on kids clothing, learning resources and additional free classes.

“Toys, books, dolls and games are all great gifts but eventually they wear out, get broken or forgotten amid all the other gifts a child receives during the course of a year. A gift certificate for a Gymboree Play & Music program is an alternative gift that just keeps getting better with time,” said Patrice Miller, owner of the South Barrington Gymboree Play & Music. “The child who receives a gift certificate to Gymboree Play & Music will reap rewards beyond the first five years of life. Children gain confidence, social and emotional skills through play and interaction with other children.”

Museums: many options

Let the grandparents take your kids to Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, Dupage Children’s Museum in Naperville or any one of the amazing Chicago Museums: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium or Museum of Science and Industry. Often, a yearly family membership is more cost effective than daily individual admission prices.

“Its great to see extended families and friends — all visiting with each other and enjoying the treasures in the museum. You can tell the children who are regulars. They clearly feel comfortable in the museum — looking for favorite works, talking about what they see, and scrambling to the studio to make something to take home,” said Susan Kuliak, director of family programs at The Art Institute of Chicago. “The Ryan Education Center’s free admission makes it easy for a family to sample all these things and whet a child’s appetite for more frequent gallery visits. Caregivers and children of all ages can learn from each other, explore their creativity through workshops, and discover art masterpieces together through the wide range of programs we offer.”