The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Holiday shopping for children is more difficult than it might seem. Sure, they’ll happily give you their lists, but upon review, everything requires batteries, results in more screen time, or will cost you more Benjamins than routinely hang out in your wallet. Fear not: We’ve rounded up great gift ideas that are perfect for Colorado kids, because these products were dreamed up by companies with home bases in the Centennial State. Best of all, many of our picks promote family bonding time, which we know is the best present of all this holiday season.
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. We recommend starting with the basic Discovery Set ($225) from Boulder-based maker Modular Robotics. Available online
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Did the hubbub around October’s annular solar eclipse get your little ones thinking more seriously about a career in space travel? Go ahead and indulge their dreams–and their taste buds–with these palate pleasers from Boulder-based Astronaut Foods. Its collection of freeze-dried treats, including the new-this-fall ice cream sandwich flavors Cookies & Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip (both $5), mimics what John Glenn and Alan Shepard ate while circling the globe on missions for NASA’s Project Mercury. Available online
Babies, puppies, mini donuts: Shrink something to a fraction of its actual size and our brains are hardwired to find it cute. Turns out, this phenomenon applies to camping equipment as well. Measuring just 15 inches tall, the four-season Basecamp Dome Tent ($40) from the Front Range’s own Tiny Tents uses the same technical features you’d find in a quality human habitat—ultralight poles, ventilating mesh windows, durable tarpaulin floor—but is far more awww-inducing. Wrap this little number up for your favorite kiddo, and their dolls and figurines can save the tea parties and world-saving for another day. Elsa, Anna, and Spiderman are going camping. Available online
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 kid’s snowshoes ($100) under the tree, it doesn’t have to be. The Englewood-based company uses foam and a Velcro-like 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 online and at local bookstores
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 ($100). This invertebrate zoo delivers on its name with more than 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 other 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
Know a budding fiber artist? You could pop into Boulder’s year-old fabric and haberdashery boutique SewBo for a stocking-size box of Glass Head Pins ($18) or go big with an Eversewn Charlotte sewing machine ($300). Then again, if you have a few consecutive winter weekends open, consider signing them up for the shop’s Saturday Sewing for Kids class (from $120). Over the course of three Saturday mornings, SewBo owner Jordan Martindell or one of her staffers will keep youngsters in stitches while teaching them how to use a sewing machine and follow an easy pattern, like a zippered pouch or pajama bottoms. 2576 Baseline Road, South Boulder; 720-948-1579