Choose gifts that promote family togetherness

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Christmas and Hanukkah are quickly approaching, and if you haven't completed your shopping list, here are some great ideas for gifts for family members.

Sure, the children (and men) in your life want the latest and greatest in toys and technology.

But as you look around the house at the overflowing toy bins and humans glued to their devices, stop and consider this: Maybe it's time for something a little different.

Maybe it's time to bring the family back together for some quality time. Teens, if you're reading this, stop rolling your eyes, and remember you won't always be able to spend time with your parents and siblings.

When asked on Facebook for gift ideas, several local parents and grandparents suggested spending money on presents that bring families together rather than a bunch of toys that will only get used a few times and then just take up space in the home.

Tickets to a play or sporting event, gift certificates for movies or bowling, and memberships to a zoo, museum, water park or theme park were just some of the ideas for gifts that encourage family togetherness.

And you don't have to spend a lot of money to give the gift of family time. Puzzles, board games, classic Christmas movies, a deck of cards, or even a set of Lincoln Logs are great gifts for the whole family.

Tish Howard of Bluffton touted a book called "Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family's Playful Spirit," written by Today Show contributor Meredith Sinclair.

"It's basically for learning through play and enjoying play, and not forgetting to play," Howard said. "It's for families, for the total family."

A retired elementary school principal, Howard also suggested a board game called Beat the Parents. She bought the game and took it to Pennsylvania to play with her family. She and two of her grandchildren played on a team against her son and daughter-in-law, and they all had a blast.

Emalee Baker of Bluffton and her sister, who lives in New York City, have fond memories of going to hockey games with their father as children. So they like to buy him South Carolina Stingrays hockey tickets when they get the chance.

"We prefer experiences together, especially since we are older and out of the house," Baker said. "It is so fun."

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

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