‘Tis the season for giving and it’s often the season for scratching our heads over what’s the perfect gift for friends and family. It can be even trickier for people to know how best to support or give to a family caring for someone with additional needs. I’ve previously shared many annual gift guides – you can see one here, but today I wanted to share some ideas which might make a great gift for the whole family, or for an individual living with a disability.
DINNER ON THE TABLE
Buy a family one of the greatest gifts – more time together. For example a voucher to a dinner service or a meal.
Earlier this year I shared the story of a social enterprise called Dinner on the Table which cooks and delivers family-style meals across much of Sydney. The profits from sales of the dinners go to support a number of people living with disability.
Dinner on the Table offer gift vouchers so you can gift a meal to a family who may enjoy the extra time spent with family rather than in the kitchen over the holiday season. You can read about that here.
ANIMAL PARK PASS
A family or individual pass to an animal park.
We’ve shared many of our Featherdale adventures on the website. The park is wheelchair accessible and has a great variety of Australian animals.
Take a look at the great access in the blog I wrote here. Companion card accepted.
QUESTACON, CANBERRA OR SIMILAR INTERACTIVE MUSEUM
A family pass or annual pass for an individual to a museum.
Our kids don’t think it’s a trip to Canberra without a visit to Questacon. One of our Facebook families recently mentioned that their family buy an annual pass for her brother and that it’s been a fabulous gift for him each year.
You can read more about our trip to Questacon here.
I’m not sure how many accessible zip-line experiences there are but here is one that is just north of Sydney.
You can read the full story here. This would certainly make an exhilarating gift for someone.
TAHUNE AIRWALK & CABLE HANG-GLIDING
A family or individual pass to an accessible attraction such as Tahune Airwalk and for the dare devils, there’s cable hang-gliding.
We had the most fabulous day trip to this attraction which is not far from Hobart in Tasmania.
You can read the full story of our adventure here.
It’s hard to find a wheelchair accessible mini-golf but we’ve found a couple and one is in Sydney. I love it because it’s indoors and therefore great for hot or rainy days too. I wrote about Putt Planet here.
The whole family enjoying mini-golf.
We’ve done so many different trike rides when we’ve travelled and it’s a hit because it’s something BJ can do with AJ and Hubby. BJ loves getting this as a gift.
In Sydney we’ve used Wild Ride Australia.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE SIDECAR TOUR
Trike rides require someone to be able to transfer from their wheelchair which is why we were so excited to see an alternative. We understand that some people need to stay in their own chair and this year we learnt that there is a wheelchair accessible motorcycle sidecar tour company in Queensland. They currently offer the service touring Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Ipswich.
Check them out here
We love revisiting and exploring attractions in our own city. Look for accessible attractions that may interest the person you are buying a gift for. Sometimes an observation tower or touristy attraction is something locals haven’t visited and may make a nice gift.
In Sydney we have the Maritime Museum which is accessible and has a relatively new attraction in Action Stations. You can read about our visit here
A pass to a local aquarium.
We recently returned to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium because of a new attraction, Penguin Expedition. We had a lovely few hours as a family enjoying looking at all the beautiful sea life. You can read about our visit here.
POOL OR RECREATION FACILITY
Keeping cool and exercising over summer can be a challenge so why not look into a gift of a pass to an accessible pool facility?
Many pools have a pool chair, ramping into the pool and accessible change and shower facilities. These photos were taken at Macquarie Universities pool.
OPEN AIR CINEMA TICKETS
There are outdoor movie cinemas in most cities and I’m sure they’re all great but if you want to give a Sydney-sider tickets to a special outdoor experience, you can’t beat the Westpac Open Air Cinema (formerly St George Open Air cinema. With Sydney Harbour as its backdrop it is difficult to explain how special this experience is for an evening out.
As the sun sets the giant movie screen seemingly rises from the water. This is a wheelchair accessible venue and we’ve seen staff go out of their way to ensure wheelchair users have a good experience. Wheelchair seating is reserved so I recommend checking the Westpac Open Air cinema website for full details about securing this seating. Companion card is accepted. Read more here. This is one of my favourite events in Sydney.
TICKETS TO A SHOW
I’ve previously written about the fabulous access and inclusion at Sydney Festival here) Each year there tickets are available to a range of wonderful shows.
Many theatres and shows now offer a range of accessible features to ensure access and inclusion for all. Many accept the companion card. I love live theatre and think tickets make a great gift.
ICE SKATING PASS
BJ has had so many fun trips to the ice rink. We’ve also had many of our readers share photos of their families having fun together at a rink. Not all rinks allow wheelchairs on the ice so you would need to check with the rink before buying tickets.
MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION TO ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Gift subscriptions are now available for Travel Without Limits, Australia’s first disability specific travel magazine. It’s filled with tips and stories of people of varying abilities travelling the world.
You can get your gift subscription here.
THE GIFT OF CHOICE
The other day I had BJ out Christmas shopping with me. We passed the menswear department and he spied some Christmas themed PJ’s he fancied. I took him over and he was quite determined he’d like them. We bought them and he has been thrilled to put them on and I think proud with the fact he purchased them himself. Not something I would have picked but life should be all about choice.
So as much as a gift voucher may seem less exciting than an actual gift at the time of giving, sometimes it’s just nice for people to have choice. I probably don’t take BJ shopping for himself enough. He tends to do it when we are on holidays.
As much as it’s lovely to give someone a surprise gift, if you are unsure if they will like it or will be able to use it, ask someone.
The Australian Companion card is a card which allows a person who is reliant on someone else to assist them when they are accessing the community, free entry for a carer to accompany them. Many attractions and theatres recognize this card. Sometimes you require the companion card number to obtain the free ticket and at attractions you need to present it.
If you are buying a pass to an ice rink, cinema or other venue, visit the venue or phone ahead and ensure the venue is accessible, there is an accessible bathroom facility and that a wheelchair can be used at venues like ice rinks.
Many of the above examples are based in Sydney or in Australia in general but I hope this list gives our overseas readers some inspiration, a starting point for thinking outside the box with gift giving.
If the items listed above are beyond your budget or more than you’d usually spend, see if you can get others to contribute to give the person one great or unusual experience rather than 5 smaller gifts that aren’t as exciting.
I hope this has been helpful and don’t forget to check out my annual gift guide here.