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Holiday shopping for children is no easy feat. Sure, they gave you their lists, but upon review, everything on them requires batteries, results in more screen time, or will cost you more Benjamins than routinely hang out in your wallet. Never fear: We’ve rounded up great gift ideas at a range of prices that are perfect for Colorado kids, having been dreamed up by companies with home bases here. Best of all, many of our picks promote family bonding time—which we all know is the best present of all.
Toys that teach are a win-win for kids and parents. Enter Cubelets, the interlocking, modular blocks that children ages four and up can use to build into their own robots. Youngsters will love snapping the pieces into place; preteens will get a kick out of constructing their own moving, blinking, and/or drivable creations; and parents will appreciate the computational thinking skills their progeny will pick up along the way. Start with the basic Discovery Set ($225) from Boulder-based maker Modular Robotics, and they’ll be on their way to making more than 50 unique robot constructions. Available online
Youngsters have a propensity for finding keepsakes everywhere they go: an acorn from their last hike, plastic rhinestones from a best friend’s birthday party, an especially special piece of gravel from the driveway. Give your curator of curio a place to stash their treasures with the Accessory Bags line from Topo Designs, which has two physical stores in Denver, one in Fort Collins, and a couple of outposts in DIA. Available in micro ($15), small ($17), and medium ($19), these convenient, brightly colored carriers are technically designed for the likes of credit cards, pens, and power blocks, but we know your little person will find much more exciting tchotchkes to stash—at least in their eyes. 2500 Larimer St., Suite 102; 1641 Market St., Suite 130; 130B S. College Ave., Fort Collins
Fill a Thermos to the brim with hot cocoa while the kids bundle up in mittens and snow pants. Exchange good-natured banter as everyone straps on their snowshoes. Then head out as a family into an expanse of white through lightly falling flakes. It might sound like Hallmark movie magic, but if you place a pair of Crescent Moon’s kids snowshoes ($100) under the tree, it doesn’t have to be. The Englewood-based company uses foam and a Velcro-esque material to create a snowshoe that’s easy for young adventurers to put on themselves and blissfully silent underfoot. Available online
Have an aspiring princess on your hands? Denver-based author Carmela LaVigna Coyle explores the world of modern royalty in a playful series that began with Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? ($16) in 2003. (Spoiler alert: They sure do.) Since then, the whimsical stories have expanded to ponder if princesses scrape their knees, boogie, and become astronauts. Order a few for pickup at one of the Denver metro area’s multiple Tattered Cover Book Store locations. Available at local bookstores and e-retailers
If you’re ready to splurge on a two-wheeler this holiday season—ahem, for your child, not yourself—be sure to check out Commencal, which has its U.S. offices in Golden. The 22-year-old Europe-born brand makes everything from push bikes, like the RMNS 12 ($290), and great first pedal bikes, such as the Ramones 14 Coaster Brake ($350), to sweet mountain bikes like the hardtail RMNS 24 ($570) and full suspension Clash 20 ($2,800). If those stickers are too shocking, opt for one of their used options, all of which are completely dismantled and serviced before being resold. (And yes, if Mom or Dad needs an upgraded steed for family rides, Commencal has lots of adult bikes ready to roll as well.) Available online
If matchy-matchy family pajamas emblazoned with Rudolph feel like a bit too much, coordinate your crew in a more subtle way with lids from Golden’s YoColorado. Variations of its Fader design (horizontal strips of color overlaid with a Colorado C) grace all sizes of trucker hats. Those made to fit little noggins ($28) go all the way down to Centennial State natives as young as six months. Available online
Experiential gifts have gotten popular in recent years for good reason: Not only do they facilitate lasting memories, but they also mean less stuff in your house. Make Marie Kondo proud by purchasing a yearlong family membership to Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion ($95). This invertebrate zoo delivers on its name with over 1,800 free-flying tropical butterflies in its ever-present Wings of the Tropics exhibit. Your kids will want to go back again and again, however, to visit its more than 16,000 residents from around the world—and they might need the repeat visits to work up the courage to touch ocean critters like sea stars and spider crabs and hold Rosie the tarantula. Available online