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Park District: Ideas for Last Minute Holiday Gifts

Gift cards and pool passes are quick, easy last minute gifts.

Holiday time can mean long errand lists and a short supply of patience. Brutal traffic, crowded malls and calendars full of commitments can make gift giving more of a pain than a holiday joy. The Wheaton Park District has a few ideas for how to make your gift giving easy, fun and special.

Easy: Buy gifts at places you already shop. Grocery stores, your favorite restaurant or that awesome fitness class you’re taking at the park district are super-convenient sources for gift scoring.

Pick up a gift card from the Wheaton Park District and you can give the gift of health, learning and play. Gift cards encourage your special someone to try that pottery or fitness class they’ve been dreaming about. They might offer a busy mom a couple of hours of childcare coverage. Worried that a child might be seeing too much “screen-time?” With the special discount the Wheaton Park District is offering on pool passes, you can fill their stocking with a pool pass for next summer as well as that hot, new video game. Big Chill Pool Passes are 25% off right now! And if they’ve been really good, add another stocking stuffer, a GO Card for spending money at the pool concession stand and other great Park District facilities.

Planning lunch at a neighborhood restaurant? Invited to a party at the club? Ask for a gift card to go. Arrowhead Restaurant & Bar sells gift cards and makes a quick trip to the golf pro-shop an easy score. Wheaton Park District is offering a special gift card promotion this year—$5 dining and fitness voucher incentives and a drawing with over $2000 worth of prizes—which means your gift card dollars will go even further. 

Fun: Make Time for a Holiday Outing. An afternoon outing with family and friends is a great way to drop the stress level and re-focus on the joy of the season. The hour or two spent at a local park, museum or zoo creates a holiday memory that lasts well beyond the everyday stress-filled moments.

Pack a thermos of cocoa and take a hike on a weekend afternoon. Some parks have even scheduled special events for families. Check out the flashlight “Candy Cane Hunt” at Wheaton Park District’s , if you’d like your outing planned by the experts. (December 18, 6-8p, www.wheatonparkdistrict.com for more)

Nearby , voted the “Best Small Zoo” in Chicago magazine, is another great spot to find the holiday spirit. Their annual “Festivals of Lights” adds sparkle to the usual zoo visit and has free admission through the end of December. Christmas trees, greenery and beautiful ornaments are for sale throughout the festival. Buying from the zoo supports the animals, another way to warm a stress-filled Grinch’s heart. (www.cosleyzoo.org)

Special: Get Creative with Presentation. More and more of us are thinking “outside the box” when it comes to holiday gifts. Translation: gift cards. They’re easy to find, super practical and make a great last minute option. Gift cards can turn into everything from boot camp to golf shoes. But cards can feel a little blah when you look under the tree.

Instead of handing over the typical gift card envelope, try tucking a card into a basket of small treasures. A box of crackers, a jar of fancy olives and a bottle of wine together with a Wheaton Park District gift card says “dinner at Arrowhead!” Or fill a toy pail with mark-down summer items from the dollar store and add a Big Chill Pool Pass for your favorite young swimmer. A water bottle, ponytail holders and some bright toenail polish can all be snagged on your usual grocery store run. Add a gift card to the mix and you have an invitation to try a Zumba or yoga class.

Or try the sneaky gift-wrapping route. Find an empty shoe box or shipping container around the house. Add some loose change, a can of soup and that gift card envelope. Wrap the whole box and slip it under the tree or, even better, bring it to ! Let someone else wrap your boxes while you relax over dinner. (You can get three gifts wrapped for free with every entrée order.) Slide your perfectly disguised surprise under the tree and smile when they try to figure out what that oddly heavy, rolling, jingle could be?

Keep your holidays easy, fun and special with help from the Wheaton Park District. For more on holiday gift cards, pool passes, gift wrapping and other special events visit www.wheatonparkdistrict.com.

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