It’s that time of the year again. Right after Halloween, Christmas starts approaching at the speed of light in the universe. Well, of course not for our impatient little elfs that cannot wait for the big day and will do anything to get us to buy them their dream toy NOW. It’s only for us, parents, grannies, aunties, uncles that need to prepare everything and deal with the biggest challenge of all: choosing Christmas present for kids that have everything.
Christmas is about joy
No matter how big or small the children you’re buying a present for are. You want to bring joy to them and magic up a smile on their faces when they open it. Think about it when you get caught in a mood of getting them something extremely useful and educational. There are some toys you cannot go wrong with. Like a car for typical boy or a doll for typical little girl. Even if he has two thousand cars, he will be always happy to get another one.
Let them choose instead of choosing Christmas present yourself!
If kids are big enough to understand Christmas and presents, let them choose what they like. This way you can be sure they get something they really want. You will avoid long walks around the shops choosing Christmas present when you have no clue what’s “in” and what could be boring for them.
Or even if children are still little and don’t know what Santa means, you can always bring them to the toy store, let them walk around and touch toys that they like. Take secret notes and you will instantly get 100 ideas for a good present. It will be up to you what you will buy. There will be a lot to choose from that will fit your budget, for sure.
Bring kids to the toy store and let them touch or play with the toys they like. Take secret notes and instantly you’ll have 100 ideas for a good present.
Little tip: Explain kids why are you going to the toy store and that you’re not buying them any big present today. Say something like: “I need you to help me choose something nice for my little friend.” (Friend is in fact made up, of course.) Or “We’ve run out of bubble mixture, so that is the only thing we’re buying today. But we can walk around and play for a little while.”
Talk to the parents in all cases!
If you’re not buying a toy for your own kids, always talk to children’s parents before you buy. Check with them if there is something specific they need or want or what could their kids preferences be. Maybe they don’t want their kids to be getting Christmas presents beside the ones Santa brings on Christmas day under the Christmas tree in their own house, to avoid spoiling Christmas magic. Ask them first and respect what they say. It will certainly add up to creating joyful and tense-free Christmas for all of you.
Choosing Christmas present for kids is a tough thing to do. You want to give them something that they like and is useful at the same time. Toy or game, that will support children’s development. When I’m going through the catalogue of toys, in my head I automatically sort toys to categories. I see which “toy categories” we do have in a toy shelf at home and which we’re still missing. If you’re choosing Xmas present for kids that have everything it usually means that these kids have several toys from each toy category. In this case, you need to either choose category which they have least toys from, they like best or is best for their development to play with. To make your choice easier, here’s the basic list of toy categories you can expand.
Sort all the toys your children have into “imaginary” categories. This way you can easily identify gaps and choose great toys that will be unique, even though it may seem that children have everything already.
Figures and animals
Animal sets, action figures, ponies, little figures of people (e.g. family members), different occupations like firemen, policemen, nurses, teacher and pupils. Children love to play pretend conversations and going on pretend adventures with these figures. Kids can build houses and cities for them or create a jungle or zoo for animals. This kind of pretend play is great for developing social skills, especially if siblings are playing together or if you play with them, as it’s mainly about social interaction.
Creative constructive toys
All different kind of blocks and constructive systems which kids can use to make things either following the enclosed instructions or they can let their imagination thrive and build anything they need or want to play with. Constructive sets and building blocks have many benefits for children. If kids have one favourite brand of blocks (e.g. Lego), it makes sense to buy different set of the same brand as it would allow them to build more with a new possible combination. This would trigger their creativity even more.
Art and craft
Almost all kids love art and craft. Sometimes it’s a bit messy but it’s also bringing kids great pleasure and they run out of supplies pretty fast when they’re creating a masterpiece. You can’t go wrong if you buy more crayons, colour papers, glitters, glue, beads, stickers or play-doh. There are more sophisticated art and craft sets for bigger kids, like clothes designer supplies or “create your friendship bracelets” cases. Make sure you check age recommendations on the packaging to avoid getting something too complicated for a little child or something too easy and boring for a big boy or girl.
Any toy, that is meant to teach something, can be called educational. If kids are really learning from this kind of toys is very individual. It could be alphabet train for the littlest ones or children’s laptop for bigger kids full of games teaching letters, maths, interesting things about animals… There’re also interactive toys like talking maps to learn geography or learning quizzes about different topics. Educational toys tend to be more expensive than others so choose wisely, it’s important to buy the right toy for the right child. You need to know their personalities a bit to make a “qualified” guess.
Games and puzzles
Puzzles and family board games are perfect quiet activities for long winter evenings. If your kids are big enough to understand the concept of a table game and they want to play, great! Follow their lead, you can even bend rules for small players to have more fun.
When it comes to puzzle, there are kids that love it and kids that don’t care about it at all. If you know that the child likes building puzzles, there will always be a great new picture available that he/she will enjoy so go ahead and get a box of puzzles. With their favourite cartoon character maybe?
Babies and toddlers love to make noise, ehm… I mean music. Drums, rattles, pianos, guitars, recorders… Music may have several benefits for your baby or toddler. So in case you think they still don’t have enough of musical instruments, get them a set of few.
There’re also all the toys that are making noises and playing sounds and nursery rhymes in this category. In general they’re great but some kids get bored by them very soon and stop playing with them. Also if you want to buy this kind of a musical toy, make sure there’s “turn off” button (yes, there are many toys that don’t have one) and ideally the toy should have several volume settings too so it won’t give parents a headache on the day kids get it.
Cars, trains, planes, boats
These are typically “boy’s” toys but I know a lot of little girls that love playing with them too. There are so many out there it’s really a challenge to pick only one, and a good one. As I suppose that every single child has some of them, you should sub-categorize the ones that your child already possesses to see any “holes” in the available assortment. Sub-cats can be: small cars, big cars, car exact models, construction vehicles, rescue vehicles, helicopters, submarines….
If a little boy already has one train set, it makes more sense to buy him extra tracks so he can build larger drive way than buying him a new, different set. More tracks will help him with his creativity, imagination and combination skills. You will never build the same shape track twice if you have a big box full of train tracks. It’s always new and great fun to play with.
Dolls, doll houses, dresses, fashion toys
Mums usually feel so much closer to all the girly toys than cars and trains. Dolls, dresses and all the accessories look so cute that you want to buy them right away. However in this category, you need to think (at least) twice before you buy. The choice is endless, prices are high and whatever you buy, it will be only a tiny little drop in a big “dolls and accessories” ocean of your little princess.
When you feel tempted to buy something, remember that it’s much more fun to make things rather than always buy them. You can make a nice doll bed out of a shoe box and wrapping paper or you can build your own doll house from a cardboard box. Your daughter will enjoy creating it with you. If she’s big enough you can teach her how to sew or knit, it’s not so hard to make a skirt for Barbie. So if child has few basic things from this toy category, go for something creative like nails & hair makeover, jewellery set or a fashion design kit. If there’s anything she doesn’t have and you know she’s been dreaming about it for some time, of course Christmas is the right time to get it even if it’s big and you’ve been hesitant about it before.
Pretend play toys & dressing up
Pretend play is important for children’s development, it’s fun and it’s also one of the favourite play for all kids nearly all ages. Kids love to imitate adults and they want to try everything they see their mum is doing. Little kitchens full of dishes and food, vacuum cleaner, iron, broom, pretend school desk and blackboard, there’s so many to choose from out there.
All kids start pretend play with kitchen supplies. You teach your baby to feed teddy bear at just few months old and wonder what’s going on in their little head when you put an empty toy spoon to plush toy’s mouth: “Is teddy really going to eat? Or is my mum crazy???” That’s what you can read from their surprised little faces. Soon enough they grab the spoon and try to feed teddy too before they decide that chewing on a spoon is way better. From this point, it only gets better.
Children love pretend play and dressing up. When you decide to widen variety of toys in this category, choose something that will last for a long time and that is unique and hard to make at home. Children have incredible imagination and do not need every single supply they see in a TV ad. So if they really have few basic things for pretend play to get them started, let them use their imagination to create the rest. Make pirate eye patch and sword from the peace of paper and watch them to play with it for hours.
Characters from movies and TV cartoons
If the child really loves some TV character, consider buying them a play set with little figures of those characters rather than spend too much money on T-shirts, set of crayons, hand bags and notepads with just a picture of the characters. Little children will copy everything they’ve seen on the TV when playing with the figures and then they will start making up new adventures. It’s good for their imagination, language development and social skills as they often play with their siblings and friends – it’s more fun than playing on their own.
Books full of pictures and colours are great for the littlest ones. Then there are story books, play books, interactive books, educational books, encyclopedias for children… Book is probably not going to be “the main” Christmas present, but you should still consider buying one. Kids will be thrilled when you sit down with them to read a new book together. Building positive attitude towards books is important from very early on. School will be more fun for kids who like books.
Here you need to know how much does the child care about what he/she’s wearing. Getting a new outfit will be one of the best presents for little princesses but might be quite boring for a track-suit fan who only wears “something” ‘cos mum’s told him to get dressed.
Adventures and experience
Tickets for exciting shows, concerts or idea of trip to fun park are gifts of a much higher value than any other “material” presents. Children need to be big enough to understand and they will be very excited about it so make sure it’s not too long before you’re planning to go when you’re giving them the tickets.
Gift cards as Christmas present?
The idea of a gift card is that the child gets to choose what he/she wants rather than getting something what parents think he’d want. From this definition it’s clear enough that children should be big enough to know what they wants. They need to understand the value of money and to be very patient as all shops are closed on Christmas. If you know your child really wants something big that is too expensive for you to buy, talk about it to close friends and family who would like to buy your child a present. Sometimes it’s better to give one big toy that is really great and a big surprise than giving 5 small toys to fit 5 smaller budgets.