‘Tis the season for gift buying! Whether shopping for a holiday gift as many of us are doing these days or contemplating a special birthday gift, shopping for kids is not always easy, especially as they get older. Confounding the issue is the vast amount of options for toys and products as well as the price range.
Raising my own teen daughters as well has having shopped for many nieces and nephews of various ages, this is an issues we grapple with annually, too. Let me share with you a few thoughts from my experience that’s also couple with some development insights as a pediatrician.
For any gift, it’s always a good idea to check in with the family and find out the answers to a few simple questions:
Does the child have any special interests or hobbies?
What does the child already have? Does he or she have a “wish list”?
What would the parents prefer? Are there any products they would prefer the child not have?
Also, keep the price tag to a reasonable amount. My experience with my own kids and my nieces and nephews is that love for a toy can be fleeting. You can spend $100 on this year’s must have that becomes yesterday’s not use. Older kids have fickle taste and younger kids are often more interested in the wrapping than the actual toy! Keep in mind, too, if you are buying for many kids in a family, $10-20 a gift can add up quickly. Considering the tough economic times we are still in, maintaining some fiscal control helps kids understand that the value of gift giving is more important than a pricey gift.
Now, for some ideas.
Let’s start with the pickiest groups first: the tweens and teens. Whether boys or girls, the 9 and older crowd can be tough to please. They are becoming very independent and have definite tastes. Books (if you find out a series they are into), gift certificates to favorite stores and iTunes, and magazine subscriptions are big crowd pleasers for this age group. Many of the new gift cards are actually like credit cards so the older kids enjoy that.
For older teens, especially those with licenses, movie ticket gift cards and restaurant gift cards are also good options. These kids are spending more time with friends at malls and on their own so helping fund their social lives will be viewed very positively.
For younger kids, in addition to checking in with the parents, be sure to follow the age guidelines on the manufacturer’s label. They tend to be very developmentally sound take into account a child’s typical size, part size, how kids play at typical ages. For example, if the child you are buying for is 3 years old, don’t purchase a toy that is labelled “for ages 5 and older”.
Finally, for all ages, don’t forget fun clothes. I find kids of all ages seem to love cool shirts and sweatshirts so when in doubt, go that route. All you need to know is if there is a favorite store or movie character to get on the item and you’re good to go.
To be honest, I’m loving gift cards more and more but now you have some ideas should you brave the waters of an actual, tangible gift!