Newest Review: ... two, by the time they had their two younger siblings knew what was what and never asked for anything too unreasonable; although my second ... more
Presents for 3 - 7 Year Old Children
Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids
Member Name: noodlesandwich
Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids
Date: 25/11/12, updated on 26/11/12 (103 review reads)
Advantages: some of my ideas
Disadvantages: might not help
Obviously if you know a child well, you'll have a good idea of what to buy them for Christmas, so these tips are aimed at those buying Christmas presents for other people's children, who they may not know that well. These suggestions are based on my own personal preferences and opinions as parent of a five year old girl, and are aimed at roughly 3 - 7 year olds.
CREATIVE TOYS - This tends to be the kind of toy I buy for other people's children. They always go down well, but try not to get anything too messy if the parents are houseproud types. My advice would be to steer clear of things like moonsand and play dough, instead go for bumper activity packs, puzzles or paintable models. Crayola do all sorts of kits with special pens and paper for different effects; colour explosion, colour wonder, models, craft packs and so on, great for keeping a child busy, involved and creative. We are always running out of paper in our house and using up pencils, paints and felt tips, so the replenishment of stocks is always welcome. It may sound an unimaginative gift, but paper and colouring equipment are amongst the best presents for a child's imagination.
BOOKS - A good book makes a great present, but that doesn't mean any old book. There's an awful lot of rubbish out there for children, some publisher's seem to think children's stories don't need a great deal of thought but they are very wrong. Parents get fed up of reading and rereading boring, badly written books, so make sure it's a book by a great children's author that will encorage a love of reading in the child. Some books may look great and have favourite colourful characters on the cover, but the well worn phrase about a book and it's cover is well worn for a reason. I find books written to cash in on films and tv series' almost always fall into the badly written category. Good Authors for younger children include Julia Donaldson, Shirley Hughes and Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Obviously it needs to be age and interest appropriate; for cat lovers there's Judith Kerr's Mog series, if it's for a child that loves Doggies there are The Hairy MacLary books by Lynley Dodd. For slightly older children there's the inimitable Roald Dahl. Classic children's books will always be in print, if you enjoyed it as a child the chances are children today will too - I can't wait to start re-reading Enid Blyton's The Enchanted Wood to my daughter this Christmas. Do check with the parent that the child doesn't already have the book.
Audio books are a good idea too, a way of keeping the children entertained when parents are too busy to read to them and they're not able to read well enough themselves, (better than sticking them in front of the telly).
DVD's - Again, there's an awful lot of rubbish out there for children. One of my pet peeves is the lack of representation, (or misrepresentation), of girls in family movies. Girls are outnumbered 3 to 1 by boys in family films, not fair really is it? Plus half the time they are only there to be looked at and don't take an active part in the story. I'm not keen on Disney as a rule and have found Studio Ghibli films to be much better in their representation of girls and highly watchable for both genders. When it comes to recent releases, Pixar's Brave stands out for me as one of the better children's movies of 2012.
COMPUTER GAMES - Just one recommendation if anyone is thinking of a Nintendo DS/DSi game for a young child. My 5 year old loves Electroplankton. Often games aimed at young children are badly made tv/movie tie-ins or have a ridiculous amount of text or complicated instructions, but this game is really simple and lots of fun. It's a game of messing around and experimenting, there's no frustration, no way to fail. It's all about making different patterns and sounds and there are different games to choose from. It's good fun for adults too. The quality of the speakers helps, for which reason I'd say it's better for the DSi than the DS, but my daughter has played hers lots on a DS.
EDUCATIONAL TOYS - lot's of people think a lot of 'educational toys', but I don't because I think all toys are educational anyway, it's a by-product of fun. Pre-school and early years children have more than enough attention focused on academic targets by nurseries and schools. I think it's unneccessary, also children may find anything too overtly 'educational' boring. Science kits are an exception to this rule of course, because anything that explodes is fun.
ELECTRONIC TOYS - As a rule I'm not a big fan of electronic toys, but hey it's Christmas and there should always be at least one noisy flashy toy around to drive everyone mad.
DON'T GO FOR THE STEREOTYPES - I'm talking about pink princessy stuff for girls, action toys for boys, unless you already have a good reason for thinking they'll like it. I gnash my teeth inwardly when my daughter receives Disney Princess toys, I don't like them and I know a lot of parents don't. I also think this kind of buying smacks of laziness - not seeing the child as an individual but rather as; 'he's boy therefore he must like A', or 'she's a girl, therefore she must like B'.
My main tip would be to just ask their parents what they like. People who buy presents for my daughter at Christmas usually know us well and I'm quite happy to answer requests for ideas. Sometimes parents may have a theme they're going with, say for example they are buying a doll's house, they might like friends and relatives to come up with some of the furniture. There are lots of ways main presents can be supplemented by additional gift givers and it's better to ask than to duplicate or get something that won't be played with.
Summary: Creative toys are a safe bet