Welcome to my very first gift guide for young history lovers and their families. Christmas is fast approaching so I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite fun and educational historical presents.
So many museums offer annual memberships for families. They make a brilliant present that can be enjoyed all year round and are a great way to support your favourite museums with your kids. Memberships do vary in price but they also come with a wealth of different benefits including unlimited museum access, invitations to special events, regular magazines, guided tours, discounts, and even sleepovers.
Just a handful of museums that offer membership are The British museum, National Museums Scotland, National Museum Wales, Historic Royal Palaces, National Museums Liverpool, Birmingham Museums, Derby Museums, Bletchley Park and The Postal Museum but there are many more.
Check out your local museum’s website to find out more.
There are loads of fantastic history books for kids. Whether you need a fact book, historical fiction, an activity book, or just a cute board book you can find anything you need from your favourite independent bookstore. You can locate your nearest store at www.indiebookshops.com. And if you can’t decide on which book to buy, book tokens and gift vouchers are available too.
I’ve put together a list of the wonderful historical books that have been featured on the blog this year on bookshop.org.
Things To Do
Crafts and activities often have a historical background and there are many gifts that help you to learn a new skill. There are lots of activities available online that have historical connections and are a brilliant way to share fun new experiences.
The Modern Calligraphy Company offer amazing online courses and free YouTube videos especially for children. I really love how they show that you can use whatever you have in your pencil case to create beautiful, decorative writing.
I’ve also really noticed the number of activity kits on the market this year. Some are aimed specifically at children and others more broadly at beginners. They can also be a great way to support small businesses. I really like I Do Handmade’s block printing kit and Y Sied’s baking boxes. Buttonbag have gorgeous sewing kits, and The Little Songbird Knitting Co have adorable knitting sets for kids. Northumbrian Candleworks have a candle making kit aimed at children and The Squid Ink Company have the cutest mini weaving loom kits. Jack Laverick Ceramics has home pottery kits and My First Mosaic has everything you need to make beautiful hanging rainbows.
Now I have to admit a bias here because I regularly write for Aquila Magazine and I think that what they do is brilliant! They’ve let me write about everything from computer chess to the history of sugar to Leonardo da Vinci. In the latest issue I’ve written a piece about the history of popcorn. Each issue is beautifully illustrated and filled with things to read, do, learn and think about. You can subscribe to them here.
Anyone who has been following this blog for a little while might know that I used to work in the theatre and I really miss going to see shows. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many theatres have been forced to close their doors for much of the year and even now, depending on local restrictions, only a handful have been able to open with limited audience numbers.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still support theatre this Christmas. In the UK you can buy Theatre Tokens which can be spent when they reopen. There are some wonderful historical shows and venues all over the country that you’ll be able to see hopefully not too long from now. In London, Come From Away tells the story of the recent events of 9/11 and how a group of people were brought together in terrible circumstances. Les Miserables (where I used to work) is an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel about the 1932 Paris Uprising. The hit musical Hamilton is about one of America’s founding fathers. And there are so many other plays and musicals about history that will be produced in theatres all over the world in 2021. Check out your local theatre to see what they have planned.
This Christmas however, there are lots of online productions which you can buy tickets or make donations to watch from your own home. I’m supporting The Online Panto Company and Polka Dot Panto’s production of Sleeping Beauty which is streaming between December between 14 December and 3 January. You can buy tickets here and read my article about the history of pantomime.
However you celebrate this festive period, stay safe (wear a mask!) and have a Happy New Year!