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Buying gifts for kids can feel overwhelming! But it doesn’t have to be.
Ask anyone and they can instantly name the very best present they ever got — and the very worst. Whether you’re in the market for a birthday gift or working on your Christmas shopping list, you don’t want to win a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Gifter.
Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of buying presents for the kids.
Do Tell the Truth
It’s natural to want to give your children their heart’s desire. But if they ask for something that isn’t in your budget (like a boat), doesn’t align with your values (like an R-rated movie), or isn’t practical (like an allergy-inducing animal), be honest. Tell them directly that they will not be receiving this present and why. But don’t stop there. Use the moment as an opportunity to discuss gifts and to try to find a more reasonable option that works for everyone involved.
When buying gifts for kids, asking them to make up a wish list can help them learn to prioritize, and writing items down will (hopefully) allow them see in black and white why a pet zebra isn’t going to be taking up residence in your backyard. But even if your children’s requests are all reasonable, don’t buy every single item on the list. Nobody wants to be a grinch but learning limits is an important life lesson, not to mention that giving them everything they ask for is a sure path to ingratitude and entitlement. Overdoing it can be an issue with extended family as well. To keep holiday stress to a minimum, make clear communication about limits a top priority.
Do Buy a Gift For Each Individual
If your kids will be receiving a large family gift, such as a trampoline, gaming system, or vacation, still make a point give each child a small item that is just for them. The present can simply be a perennial favorite like a Beanie Boo or Lego figurine, or you can select an item that relates to the big present, such as personalized sticky socks for the trampoline, a video game geared to their particular interests, a journal or specialized equipment like a snorkel to take on your special holiday.
Don’t Give Them What You Wanted
We were all kids once and it can be tempting to buy a nostalgic gift like a Teddy Ruxpin, Polly Pocket, or Rubik’s Cube. But unless your child has expressly said they would like this item, resist the urge to offer it as a gift. They may smile and say thank you, but you cannot buy your childhood back. Get it for yourself if you must, but don’t project your dreams onto your kids.
Do Play With the Gift
When the gift-giving takes place, the most important thing is to share in the joy. Show your enthusiasm for your child’s happiness. Try out the doll/game/toy. Build the dolly a zip line or make her house out of a cardboard box. Play the video game with your child and laugh at your lack of skill. Create a fabulous tower with Legos. Also, take video of the scene and the silliness. Even when the inevitable happens and your child moves on to the next toy, recorded memories are one item that will definitely be cherished by the family for years to come.