How to choose gift ideas that kids will love...
It’s generally pretty easy to choose gifts for your own children, but it can be a lot harder to choose for children who aren’t part of your day to day life – such as out-of-town grandchildren, nieces, godsons etc.
Children grow and develop at their own pace, and their interests can change markedly from year to year – so here are a few well-worn tips that might make it easier to choose gifts they'll enjoy.
Tip # 1 – If at all possible - check with the parents first
A quick email or phone call to the parents could mean finding a perfect gift. Children often have interests which are related to what is popular at school or on TV at the time. I remember my own kids, especially the boys, going through phases of wanting to collect some particular item or other – Pokemon cards, Yugi-oh cards, marbles, Bey blades. The interest usually only lasts for a little while – but at the time it’s all they want. Similarly, girls often want accessories to add to their collections or that go with their favourite toys – Barbie doll dresses and accessories etc.
It can also pay to check if the parents have any particular objections to toys – for example some parents can’t stand for their daughters to have Barbies or sons to have toy guns etc. In these cases it's best to play by the parents rules - unless you like causing a bit of an upset!
Tip # 2 – Online toy stores can have great gift buying guides
It’s really hard to keep up with what stages kids are at, and what’s popular for children when you’re no longer involved with their care every day. Online toy stores can be a great help here – with a few minutes research you can choose and buy something age-appropriate and likely to be popular.
I think IQ Toys (iqtoys.co.nz) is a great website in NZ for checking out kids toys. They have "shop by age" and "shop by price" categories, buyer’s guides for different age groups and customer reviews of products (note: we aren't affliliated or associated with IQ Toys in any way - I just think they have a fantastic, well-organised website).
Other good places to look for ideas include lists of the latest book award winners (try NZ Post Children's Book Awards Finalists) or toy awards. Close to Christmas there are also likely to be dozen of online articles and gift guides which can also be really useful.
Tip # 3 – There’s always the classics
There are just some gifts for children that never seem to go out of style – for example Lego, Barbies, crafts, stationery (especially for girls), stickers, magic tricks, bouncy balls and books. In my experience books aren’t always the presents that give the most excitement when they are opened– but they often go on giving enjoyment for years.
Tip # 4 – Family presents make great Christmas gift ideas
Giving a gift to the whole family at Christmas time can be a great idea. For example - movie passes, tickets to the local swimming complex, vouchers for a simple meal out or items like board games that the whole family can play. Again, a quick check with the parents could be useful here – to make sure they haven’t already got what you might be thinking of giving.
Similarly, putting together a family gift basket could be a great idea. A family DVD with a big bag of popcorn (or packets of microwave popcorn if you’re posting the gift) and chocolate bars, minties etc. makes a great movie night basket. Or try a new tray of cupcake tins with cake mix, icings, liners and lots of sprinkles and little sweets for decoration – kids love making and decorating their own cup cakes, and this makes for a fun family-orientated holiday activity.
Tip # 5 – If in doubt - add something sweet!
A few lollies or sweets added to a gift for children always has the effect of turning it into a huge hit! I especially like the idea of adding things that sensible parents might cringe at – like those huge lollipops as big as your face, or mega snake lollies or their own individual little boxes of chocolates. 100% Guaranteed to please.
And finally, we think the best presents are those wrapped up in the traditional style. Paper, ribbons, bows and a gift tag. As long as you don’t add any small decorations to the wrapping for kids under three, or anything sharp – they’ll love their gift being presented this way - it’s so much fun!
This article has been adapted from suite101.com - “5 Tips for Choosing Gifts for Children” by Dawn Marcotte, published 13 November 2010.