Wondering how you’re going to sneak in the kid’s Christmas shopping without blowing Santa’s cover? Or maybe you just need to sneak in a little R&R before the in-laws arrive for the holidays. We’ve found some super fun drop-in daycares that your kids are going to love. Let them play away while you stuff the trunk with secret Santa loot.

Downtown/Pearl/Nob Hill
On NW 18th and Quimby kids 3 to 12 can get their hands dirty at The Art Cubby while channelling their inner Matisse. Painting, drawing, clay, collage and jewelry making abound. Who knows maybe they’ll create a present for grandma while you’re out shopping. The Art Cubby is 5 blocks from NW 23rd street where you can stock up on toys at Child’s Play or kid’s clothes at Duck Duck Goose and Mako. Stuff their stockings with handmade candies from Northwest Sweets at NW 23rd and Johnson.


WeVillage in the Pearl offers drop-in daycare for 2-12 year olds. The cost for one child is $15 per hour for non-members with a two-hour minimum for drop-ins. They’ll even serve lunch or dinner for a few extra bucks. While you’re in the Pearl, grab some baubles and bangles at Cargo Imports or pick up some toys for tots at Posh Baby. For some new threads, stop by Hanna Andersson on NW 10th. Freshen up their bookshelves with kids books or comics from Powell’s City of Books. And what would Christmas be without a stop at Finnegan’s toys, Portland’s largest independent toy store.

Both weVillage and The Art Cubby are a quick drive from Pioneer Place where you’ll find H&M, Gap Kids, Toys R Us Express, and GameStop for video game junkies. Don’t forget to validate your parking ticket!

North/Northeast Portland
Village Childcare has two locations in N/NE portland. The one on NE MLK is a quick hop from NE Alberta street where you’ll find adorable toys and clothes at Grasshopper, noisemakers at Trade-up Music for your little rock stars, art supplies at Collage, and Green Bean Books. The N Mississippi location is just down the street from Black Wagon Toys and Bridge City Comics.

Realign your chakras at Yoga Shala. They’ll watch your kids ages 3 to 12 years for up to 4 hours off premises so you can hit up the stores on North Williams after class (Reservations are highly recommended). Just down the street you’ll find Treehouse children’s boutique and Spielwerk Toys. A couple blocks south of Yoga Shala is the sweet vintage shop Little Edie’s Five & Dime.

Beaverton/Lake Owsego
Take advantage of Play Boutique’s Drop & Shop Daycare December 1st, 15th, and 22nd from 9:30am to 12:30pm. The three-hour bundle includes lunch and holiday gift making activities. There’s a downtown Lake Oswego location and a Beaverton location at Progress Ridge Townsquare. It’s just $10 a hour for non-members but they require reservations 24 hours in advance. In Lake Oswego, stop by the totally awesome Frog Pond Toys. In Beaverton, Piccolo Mondo Toys and a sweet little boutique shop are handily in the same shopping center as Play, or head to Washington Square for some serious power shopping at the Mall.

In Store Drop-in Daycare
Most Fred Meyer stores have free supervised play areas for kids 2 to 5. The rules are you must stay in the store but Freddy’s is a great place to grab toys (battery operated bulldog on skateboard, anyone?), stocking stuffers, pjs, hats, scarves, or a snuggly soft throw blanket. Be sure to sneak in a little coffee break for yourself at the in-store Starbucks.

The totally awesome kid’s play area at IKEA is a free one-hour drop-in service for kids between 37 and 54 inches tall. Stock up on kid’s art supplies, expand the train set, or grab a new plush toy. Might as well grab a quick slice of pie before picking up the kids. With slides, a ball pit, fun things to climb over and crawl through, and a bevvy of art supplies, you’ll need the extra energy to convince them play time’s over.

Play it safe!
Each drop-in daycare place has it’s own set of forms and reservation requirements, so be sure to contact them ahead of time to ensure you’re shopping plans go off without a hitch.

Did we miss any totally cool drop-in play spots? Where’s your favorite place to drop the kids for a mommy/daddy break?

Written by: Alanna Risse

Photos provided by the Facebook pages of The Art Cubby and weVillage