No matter when you start holiday shopping, use our guide to thoughtful and developmentally appropriate presents to ensure this season is filled with love and laughter.
Grant Clinkingbeard, MD, pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health in Covington, shares his best tips for choosing gifts that are safe and developmentally appropriate while keeping the spirit in the season.
1. Start Early, Shop Smart
Beat the Black Friday rush by starting your gift shopping early. By planning ahead, you can take the time to research and choose toys that align with your child’s age and interests.
2. Ask Santa to Give Smaller Presents
If Santa comes to your home, ask if he is willing to just give the gifts that are smaller and less expensive. Let parents or grandparents be the givers of any big or expensive gifts. This ensures that other children in school don’t feel left out if Santa gave them less than someone else.
3. Opt for Educational Toys
Gifts that engage young minds are not just fun but also promote learning. Look for toys that encourage creativity, problem-solving and cognitive development.
4. Prioritize Safety
Choose toys made from non-toxic materials and avoid small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Toys with rounded edges and sturdy construction are ideal, especially for younger children. Read manufacturer recommendations to ensure that a gift is age-appropriate.
5. Consider Physical Activity
Encourage active play by selecting toys that promote physical activity. Think of items like bicycles, scooters or sports equipment, which not only entertain but also keep children active and healthy. If you are giving a bike or scooter, don’t forget to give a helmet!
6. Embrace the Power of Imagination
Toys that foster imaginative play, such as building blocks, art supplies or role-playing sets, can enhance creativity and social skills.
7. Go Green
Consider eco-friendly toys made from sustainable materials. Not only are you contributing to the environment, but you’re also teaching kids about the importance of being eco-friendly.
8. Gift Tech in Moderation
The season’s hot toys are often electronic. Choose tech toys that encourage active engagement rather than passive screen time. Look for apps and games that promote learning and creativity.
9. Include Books
Reading is fundamental is a cliché because it’s true. Books make excellent gifts for children of all ages. Reading enhances language skills, stimulates imagination and creates opportunities for wonderful bonding moments between parents and kids. For older readers, consider titles you might both read, enjoy and talk about together.
10. Support Local Businesses
Explore local toy stores and artisans for unique, handmade toys. Supporting local businesses not only ensures you find one-of-a-kind items but also strengthens your community.
11. Involve the Kids in Giving
The holiday season isn’t all about receiving. Being able to give gifts to others is an important part of developing a generous spirit. Involve your children in the gift selection process for other loved ones (and gather their input on their wish list at the same time).
12. Spread Kindness
Remind children about the joy of giving. Encourage them to donate toys they no longer play with to those in need, teaching them the value of generosity and empathy. Purchasing new items for holiday toy drives is a valuable learning opportunity too.
Happy gifting, and may your holiday season be filled with laughter, warmth, and the magic of safe and thoughtful presents!