Holiday: Father-daughter gift ideas

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By: Tawny Maya McCray

From Barbie cruise ships to stuffed goats, these fathers have seen it all.

For dads looking to please their little princess this Christmas, there are a lot of good options out there. With myriad possibilities — from Barbie dolls and accessories to sports gear and stuffed animals — picking the right present can be overwhelming. Here are some gift ideas straight from the source.

Chris Moeller has two daughters, 13-year-old Madison and 8-year-old Molly. Moeller said some Christmas gifts he’s bought for them over the years include a dollhouse, a trampoline, a bicycle and athletic gear.

This Christmas, Madison and Molly’s wish lists look a little bit different.

“My 13-year-old has officially transitioned to the want for clothing,” Moeller said. “She is also really into basketball, so anything basketball related should be a win for Santa. Our 8-year-old loves to play with animals — real or stuffed — so I’m sure that Santa will be getting her some ‘stuffies.'”

Moeller said his kids, which also include 11-year-old son Mason, have recently taken to fishing, so a new fishing pole or some tackle might also make it under the tree.

When it comes to what to get the kids for Christmas, Moeller and his wife, Ashley, have the kids write lists, and then they discuss. He said they also use an online Santa video called “Portable North Pole” as a tool for figuring out what their children want.

Dave Neal also has two daughters, 8-year-old Maddie and 6-year-old Dakota. His girls adopt a different strategy when compiling their Christmas wish lists for Neal and his wife, Amanda.

“Maddie writes a list — or two, or 10 — and tells us throughout the year what she wants,” Neal said. “Dakota doesn’t really have strong opinions about what she wants. We have to pull that out of her.”

He said some of Maddie’s favorite gifts over the years have been a Barbie house, a Barbie plane and a Barbie ambulance. This year, she wants a Barbie cruise ship.

“She enjoys creating scenes and scenarios (with them),” he said.

Dakota, on the other hand, loves stuffed animals. “Her favorite toy is a green stuffed bear that she sleeps with each night,” Neal said. This year, she wants a stuffed goat from “Despicable Me 3.”

This year Neal and Amanda are also considering taking their daughters, and their 3-year-old son, Hudson, to Disneyland for Christmas. He said they’ve gone to Disneyland and Disney World about 10 times with the kids over the years.

“They love it,” Neal said. “Maddie likes Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. Dakota likes all the treats.”

Neal pointed out that, to him, teaching his kids valuable life skills is more important than giving them gifts. He said he likes teaching them academic skills, handyman skills and athletic skills such as swinging a bat, throwing a ball and doing handstands. “Nothing matches their excitement and pride of figuring something out and knowing they are capable of a new skill, specifically something they failed at initially,” he said. “Building confidence and persistence is the best gift I can give my kids.” He also teaches his children to value God’s love, keep their word, and remain persistent in the face of failure.

Neal instills these values in all of his kids, but he also appreciates his daughters for their differences. “I have a great relationship with both,” he said. “Maddie is wired to be a leader and a thinker, so we can have deep conversations about people, the world and relationships. Dakota might be the silliest child I have ever met, so we usually just laugh and snuggle.”

Moeller also has a great relationship with his children. As a teacher, he is able to spend a lot of time with his kids during school breaks. He said they are a very active family and spend the majority of their time playing sports and doing outdoor activities like fishing, swimming and going to the beach. “My relationship with my girls is a very positive one,” Moeller said. “Being a parent is, I believe, the greatest gift that anyone can have.”

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