If there’s one thing I’ve grown tired of as my kids have gotten older, it is the twice-a-year Great Toy Purge. Cathartic, sure. But the sense of being swallowed whole by a sea of toys and THINGS is definitely something I can do with out. Once the Great Toy Purge is over, I feel so much better….But realistically I would just like to avoid the need to do it all together. One solution I found that helped was to rotate toys. Gather boxes or bins each with one or two toys from each category; building toy, dress up items, a few cars, noisy toys, etc., and just have one box available at a time. After a few weeks, change out the box and voila! “new” toys. This still takes quite a bit of planning and effort, but it does help.

This year, I am making it A POINT to limit the things I purchase for my kids. So far I’ve got gift cards to Adventure Landing in Raleigh, a gift card to the movies, a gift card to Sonic for ice cream, and jump passes to Defy in Fayetteville. (I’m a last-minute shopper, guys….don’t judge, I’m not done yet lol). World Market in Fayetteville has some great treats and specialty foods that my kids would love to get in their stockings. If you have an aspiring chef in your family, you could make a fabulous foodie package present by packaging up an exotic ingredient or two (or an interesting kitchen tool) with a gift certificate for an untried local restaurant and one of the cooking class ideas below!

Cooking Classes with Fayetteville Parks & Recreation (www.fcpr.us): Check the latest program brochure to see what cooking classes are being offered in the upcoming season. Usually, classes are available for ages seven and up. Fayetteville recreation centers host classes for aspiring bakers, chefs, cake decorators and more.

The Flavor Exchange (www.theflavorexchange.com): This Southern Pines-based cooking school offers classes in your home or another venue for a minimum of six students. Classes designed specifically for children (ages four and up) are available as well as classes on topics ranging from meal prep to sushi. The school can accommodate for dietary restrictions.

Summerscapes at Fayetteville Technical Community College (www.faytechcc.edu): During the summer, Fayetteville Tech offers cooking classes for children ages eight and up focusing on general culinary skills and specializing on topics such as cookies, gingerbread, international cuisine, pasta and pizza.

Whisk Carolina (www.whiskcarolina.com): Located in Cary, this kitchen supply store offers classes for kids and teens on varying topics including pizza-making, donuts, cookie decorating, and more.

Flour Power Kids’ Cooking School (www.flourpowerstudios.com): This school with locations in Cary and Raleigh offers classes for ages 2.5 and up with new topics every week.

Taste Buds Kitchen (www.tastebudskitchen.com): This Apex cooking school offers classes for kids two years old and up on topics ranging from French pastry to Asian street foods.

Don’t forget to read our other blogs in this series: Museums, Adventures, & Gyms!

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