If you’re anything like me, despite your best efforts to plan ahead, you’re still staring down a list of holidays gifts. And with time running short, it’s inevitable that at some point we’ll find ourselves with no choice but to bring along the kiddos for some of the last-minute holiday prep.
So I thought it would be fun (and useful!) to round up some of our favorite places to go shopping when you need to bring the kids with you.
Who knows! Once you read about some of the kid-approved events and activities offered by these shopping destinations, you might even decide to make holiday shopping a family affair!
As always, we only list places that we’ve actually been to and blogged about. But if you’ve got another spot that’s super for holiday shopping with kiddos in tow, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to leave us a note in the comments section below.
Malls with benefits.
One of our early finds as new moms was the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT with its awesome little kids’ play area. It’s even better now because they’ve moved it to the food court, which also has a wonderful carousel. Now you can take a break from all that shopping and enjoy lunch or a snack in peace while the kiddos get to play.
Across the river in West Hartford, CT, the Westfarms Mall always impresses us with its over-the-top holiday display. But last year Tiffany gave us a tour of some of the other kid-friendly (and parent-approved!) activities, like picking out matching jammies, creating a bedtime buddy, and having a frozen treat (because froyo is always delicious no matter what the temperature outside is!). And of course, a visit with Santa 🙂
Let’s face it, when it comes to errands with kids, sometimes bribery is the only way to get things done. Agree? So incentivize your kids with the amazing jungle-themed indoor play arena at the Holyoke Mall, which is just a short trip over the border in Holyoke, MA. This facility has 27,000 square feet of play space, not to mention a totally separate toddler-friendly area for kids ages 5 and under. Spend an hour or two letting the kiddos slip, slide, jump, roll, bounce and climb at Billy Beez, and they’ll have to cut you some slack as you check a few gifts off your holiday list.
For another mall experience your kids will actually enjoy, take them to the East Brook Mall in Mansfield, CT where you’ll find Quester’s Way indoor play area. Pebble Park, their nature-themed playground, has a variety of fun activities for kids ages 12 and under. And how about this little perk: you can even grab a cup of coffee (and relax!) at their café while the kids explore.
Have your fun and eat it too!
If food shopping is on your agenda (and really, when is it not?!), you can’t beat Stew Leonard’s in Newington, CT for an amusing trip. Animated puppets down every aisle; a FREE ice cream cone with every $100 purchase; prepared foods and a fun, kid-friendly loft eating area; not to mention an entire series of holiday-themed kids’ cooking classes and crafting sessions (check out upcoming events for the Newington store here, or see events for all Stew’s locations here) and a Breakfast with Santa, are just some of the entertaining diversions your kids will love.
If you need a little peace and quiet while you plan your holiday menu, head to Big Y where the Little Y Kids Club keeps your kids (ages 3-9) busy in a FREE supervised play area for up to two hours! We saw a note on their site about the Avon location (which we blogged about) being closed for renovations, but you can find other locations here). Toys, games, crafting supplies and more will keep your little ones thoroughly entertained while you focus on your holiday grocery shopping list.
You shop, they play!
For another kid-free shopping opportunity that doesn’t require you to hire a sitter, head to Ikea in New Haven, CT where you can drop your (37″ to 54″ tall, potty-trained) kids off at Småland where they can play with some new friends while you pick out some sparkly decorations, entertaining essentials or holiday gifts. Or, if you just need a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday errands, drop off the kids and enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack (or a mini date night) at the Ikea restaurant.
Don’t forget to check out the Michaels Kids Club every Saturday morning at stores nationwide (find classes in your area here). For just a few dollars, kids can create a super cute craft (many are holiday-themed this time of year) while you get precious moments of alone time to shop in the store. And if you’ve still got some stockings to fill, art supplies, craft kits, stickers, scrapbooking accessories, journals and many more creativity-inspiring items make great gifts for the kiddos!
Celebrate the season while you shop!
A visit to Lyman Orchards in Middlefield has become a holiday tradition for my family. We sign up for one of their Gingerbread House Workshops, then follow up our frosting and decorating session with a yummy lunch at the Apple Barrel and top it off with coffee (for grownups) and cider donuts (for kids and grownups). After all that festive fun, we can usually persuade the kids to let us pick out some holiday treats for loved ones too.
It’s Christmas all year ’round at Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, MA where you can always visit Santa’s workshop. But the holiday season is extra festive so be sure to check their website for upcoming events. And even if there’s none of the fluffy white stuff outside on the ground, there’s a guaranteed white Christmas in the Black Forest where it snows every 4 minutes! Plus there are so many fun activities for kids–like filling your own jar candle or creating a make-your-own wax hand! And all sort of treats–from candy to fudge to popcorn. You might have to remind yourself that you’re there for shopping 🙂
So as you can see, even when holiday planning doesn’t go exactly as planned, you can still make this the most wonderful time of the year. All you need is a little inspiration from your pals here at Out and About Mom, and you can make getting prepared for your holiday (even those last minute dashes!) just as fun as celebrating it 🙂
Do you have a favorite shopping destination that’s great for kids? Let us know in the comments section below!
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