Children's Clubs & Activities

Nov 29, 2010

Just The Ticket


We’ve all been there. At some point or other we will have received or given a gift that is promptly discarded, thrown at the bottom of the toy box and neglected forever.

Category: Childrens Clubs and Activities
Posted by: Clare

Such an act would be worthy of a horror scene in Toy Story – a scenario that would make heroes Woody and Buzz freeze with fear, followed by a cleverly constructed dialogue that would pull at the heartstrings of the young and old.  So, instead of subjecting these toys to years of neglect and unhappiness, there is a happy solution...

Imagine buying a memorable gift that can be used for 12 months. Well, you can! And it’s a much simpler gift idea than you may think. In these budget-conscious times, people are becoming more cautious on how they spend their money, by shopping around for the best deals and searching for gifts that really offer value for money. Season tickets, memberships to attractions, an animal sponsorship or a charitable donation are ‘added value’ gifts that will be cherished well beyond the Christmas festivities. To help you decide where to spend that hard earned cash, we’ve taken a look at a few of the options open to you...

Memberships to nationwide attractions
Memberships to nationwide attractions such as National Trust and English Heritage properties can be used across England and Wales.  Of course this is ideal, especially if you are a family that likes to travel and explore the different regions of the country.  Most regions boast a few historic properties and with a membership, particularly one for all the family, guarantee an affordable day out without breaking the bank.  With a National Trust membership there over 300 historic and quirky properties to explore, plus free parking at a number of scenic NT countryside and coastline locations. Similarly English Heritage membership offers free entry to all English Heritage properties across the country, plus free entry for up to six accompanying children (under 19) per member within a family group.

A membership to an environmental organisation
Perfect for the environmentally conscious are memberships to groups such as the RSPB, the World Land Trust or a local wildlife trust. Memberships can open the door to a lifetime of enjoyment of the natural world and will contribute to the protection of wildlife.  For example, the RSPB offers a special junior membership called RSPB Wildlife Explorers that provides a membership pack specific to your child’s age, including posters, stickers, a logbook with activities, a membership card and a certificate.  Plus there is free entry to more than 100 RSPB nature reserves too. Go to www.RSPB.org.uk to find out more. Also, many national parks, local wildlife trust’s and countryside groups offer junior memberships providing activity packs and free entry to special events such as hands-on sessions in bug identification, pond dipping and hunting for mini-beasts. A gift donation to save wildlife habitats via the World Land Trust is a most thoughtful green gift. The charity, whose patron is Sir David Attenborough, offers the chance to take positive action for wildlife, by helping fund the purchase and protection of important wilderness areas. You can even direct your donation to a specific conservation project. To find out more go to www.worldlandtrust.org.

A membership to a local attraction
In the current economic climate, value for money is paramount to families and membership to a local attraction, where usage is likely to be more frequent, is often cash well worth spending.  With an upfront sum, many theme parks, zoos, museums, art galleries and play zones offer the chance to buy an annual pass, season ticket or yearly membership. This helps when the children haven’t managed to see everything they wanted in one day and gives them the chance to go back time and again. Usually, membership also offers a number of tempting benefits, such as free and fast track entry to the attraction, free entry or discounted rates to special events, discounts in the gift shop and restaurants, and unexpected treats on special occasions such as birthdays. Dividing the cost over the year many membership packages work out less than £1 per week so are certainly an attractive option.  It’s worth asking your favourite local attraction if they offer yearly membership – over the year you could make big savings.

Sponsoring a child
Considering this option as it will require a financial donation that stretches beyond the year. However the profound value of such a gift is priceless.  Sponsorship offers hope to a child who lives in extreme poverty – it can provide them with access to basic resources we often take for granted such as clean water, nutritious food, health care and education. There are benefits to your children and family too. Many charities warmly encourage the children from the sponsor family to write to their sponsored child.  This can positively educate the children about the lives of others and the hardships that other people may endure.  It can help children to put their own life into perspective. Sponsorship also helps to strengthen children's communities over the long term to address critical needs and to become self-sustaining. There are a large number of charities that offer child sponsorship, so the best advice is to read up about each charity and choose one that best fits with your values and price range.  Take a look at www.sponsoringachild.co.uk- a site that encompasses a whole range of charities that feature programmes aimed at increasing the living standard of children based in the UK and overseas.  It may also be worth looking at the websites of Save the Children, Action Aid, NSPCC, Compassion, Unicef and World Vision.

Animal adoptions at a zoo or wildlife park
If your child has a passion for animals then an animal adoption may be the perfect gift. By adopting an animal, your money will make a real contribution towards the mighty food costs, veterinary bills and running costs of a zoo, animal sanctuary or wildlife park. Most animal parks charge a set yearly rate for the adoption of an animal, be it a lion, tiger, penguin or bear.  You can individually choose the animal you wish to adopt and can sometimes name him or her. Adoption packages often include an adopter's certificate, one free entry to the animal park, a photo of the animal and sometimes adopter’s can have their name etched on a plaque that is displayed within the zoo grounds.  Contact your local zoo or wildlife park for more details.  Alternatively the World Wildlife Fund offers adoption and guardianship packages aimed to help its plight for wildlife conservation and protection of endangered species. Go to www.wwf.org.uk