Holiday gift shopping for children can be oh-so-much fun because it’s the act of choosing something for them that brings them joy. Problem is, sometimes we forget just who it is we are buying for -- the child deep within us, or the child that is actually receiving it. Here, some guidance in finding items that your kids will actually love.
Related: Top toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers
1. Avoid sentimental toy buying.
Remember the fun you had with Mr. Potato Head, Yahtzee, your Easy Bake Oven?
Many golden oldies are still out there and it¹s tempting to bring home old favorites. But, do you recall how old you were when you really enjoyed that toy?
Sentimental toy purchases may be a flop if you bring them before your child is ready or interested. It¹s great to share your enthusiasm, but you also need to remember that your child may have different interests and expectations. Your love of a dollhouse may not suit a daughter who prefers soccer and collecting bugs.
2. Be selective when choosing toys that teach. Parents and grandparents love it when a toy has the added value of being a teaching tool. Toys with obvious lessons often have limited learning and play value.
As a rule of thumb: Steer clear of drill machines. If you want to help kids learn, bring home games where using their math skills is part of the fun, not the sole purpose of the game. Want kids to read more? Try craft kits with directions that motivate them to read. Need to refine writing skills? Bring home art materials that help refine those little muscles in the hand without tedious pencil and paper tasks of copying.
3. Know your child to know what toys they will love.
Everyone wants their gifts to make kids happy. So, ask yourself, what toys get the most action with your child? If it¹s a toy train set, how about bringing home a new accessory to give that toy some new appeal? If it¹s a toy kitchen, how about a set of new pots or dishes? For artistic types, a new set of paints, markers, crayons and paper are always welcome. Though you may want to introduce new forms of play, gifts that enhance existing interests are sure to make a hit.
Child development experts Joanne and Stephanie Oppenheim are the co-founders of the independent consumer website www.toyportfolio.com. For a complete list of age-appropriate toys, visit ToyPortfolio.com .