When choosing gifts for children we are close to, we usually know instinctively what they would like. If not, they usually tell us by way of a list which leaves little room for interpretation. However, when we need to buy a gift for a child that we do not see regularly, it can be difficult to know what to choose. This is made even more difficult when we know they already have a bedroom full of toys. If you are struggling to work out what to give to a child you know, here are some key factors to get you started.
How old are they?
Your first consideration is their age, as toys are usually designed with an age range in mind. The age range is a very useful guide, as buying a toy which is too advanced for the child or which could be a potential safety hazard is not going to go down well. However, the age rating is only a recommendation – if the child is developmentally advanced, they may get more enjoyment out of a toy designed for slightly older children. By the same token, just because some four-year-olds can play with a certain toy, others may find it too challenging.
What are they interested in?
The next point to consider is their interests and personality. Do they like to play outside, or are they more interested in computer games, making models, or reading books? Are they a fan of dinosaurs, cars, unicorns, princesses, aliens, a particular film, or superhero? Choosing a gift which fits the theme of their current obsession is likely to be a success, even if the gift itself is somewhat basic.
Will the gift help their development?
Toys are not just for fun – they have a key role in cognitive and physical development. Toys can spark imagination and creativity, encourage the child to think logically and can even help their literacy and numeracy skills. A book on their favourite topic could be perfect, as it does not take much space, can be enjoyed repeatedly and encourages them to practice their reading.
Can they share the gift with others?
Toys which encourage them to play with others are also important as they give children the opportunity to learn about sharing, teamwork, communication, compromising and fosters their social skills. Games such as a fun tabletop football game can also help children to develop a healthy interest in competition which encourages them to strive to achieve their best, and how to handle defeat with dignity.
Will the gift stand the test of time?
The gift you choose does not need to be expensive, as children tend to grow out of toys or change their interests regularly. However, it is best to avoid particularly cheap toys which can break quickly. The better the quality of the toy, the longer it will last and could even be handed down to another child when they are finished with it. If possible, choose a toy which is made from recyclable, sustainable materials and is free from phthalates, PVC, BPAs, or toxic dyes.
If in doubt, ask their parents
If you are really struggling or are concerned that they may already have the gift that you are considering, ask their parents for their input. This is also a good idea as while the child might enjoy a particular gift, the parents may object. For example, you might be planning to get them a computer game, but their parents may feel that their child already plays on their computer too much.