Admittedly, there may be times when you need to buy a gift for a young person you don't know very well. Being the one who buys the perfect gift, even when you don't know them, can often be a way to win over a little person. Don't get me wrong, the adult who always shows up when it counts is loved far more than the flaky adult who brings the perfect gift. On the other hand, it's great when you can be consistent AND buy the perfect gifts! :D
Here are some tips for you...
While I'm a relatively enlightened person and I don't believe in pushing gender stereotypes onto children, I'm also a realist. Trying to keep your gifts non-gender specific is a nice idea, however by the time a child has reached the age of 6 years, they will probably already be conforming or not. When in doubt, check with the parents. Use some common sense when it comes to choosing which of these gifts are more suitable for boys or girls, I'm going to stick with ages this time.
Some background: the average 6 or 7 year old will be attending school and learning to read. They will be curious and (at the same time) they will know what they like and don't like. They will have their very own personality that is developing all the time. Don't assume the "it" toy or movie character will be the favourite of the 6yo or 7yo kid. Anything on this list should please any child in this age group.
- Eye Spy/ Spot What (find it in the picture) books
- Picture Books (Mem Fox and Jackie French are two authors that you could check out).
- Colouring/ Simple Activity books
- Colouring in Pencils/ Felt tip pens (Scented ones are fun too)
- Puzzles (simple to medium difficulty, no more than 100 pieces)
- Stickers (transport, reward stickers, fairies, animals)
- Simple/ Basic sporting equipment (e.g. tennis balls, velcro grip paddles, spiky balls in various sizes, a set of quoits, a small goal, ping pong balls/ paddles).
- Hula Hoops, Skipping Ropes.
- Water Bottle or Lunchbox for school
- A bottle of bubbles with bubble wands or a bubble machine (Personally, I think this is a great gift for anyone who has 'everything' no matter how old they are, but perhaps that's just me).
- Sand or Water Toys (e.g. bucket and spade, measuring jug, moulds such as sea animals).
- Playdough and Accessories.
- Small handbag or backpack for toting toys and treasures.
- Junior Monopoly or Junior Scrabble
- Board Games that don't require advanced literacy or numeracy skills e.g. Connect Four, Operation, Trouble, Chinese Checkers, Snakes and Ladders.
Some Background: The average 8 or 9 year old is starting to develop their own interests and will be curious about their specific areas of interest. For example: Dinosaurs, Craft, Cars, Dancing, Dolls, etc. If the "it" or "in" thing is unlikely for a child who is 6 or 7 years old, it is even less likely to be loved by an 8 or 9 year old. These children are expanding their horizons, most will be independent readers (although it's a good idea to check this parents), and may be reading a series. Gifts that should win over any child of 8 or 9 years.
- Activity and Puzzle books
- Start a new book series such as Netball Gems, Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (or check with parents and add the next book in a series the child is already reading). Roald Dahl and Andy Griffiths are good authors that have published a range of books any kid would love to receive.
- Some Picture Books are still appropriate for this age group, you could look at books with more text or mature themes. Authors to check out include Graham Base, Jackie French, Jeanie Baker, Shaun Tan.
- Board Games as above and you could add more challenging games such as Pictionary.
- Card Game packs such as Uno or Skipbo; a deck of standard playing cards is also great.
- Sporting Equipment as above, or check with parents to find out if Mr or Ms 8/9 is involved in any team sports or sporting clubs and purchase relevant equipment.
- Water bottle and Baseball Cap (or bucket hat)
- Treasure Box, Tote bag or Small Backpack (kids at this age love packing all their toys and books into a box or bag and carrying it to another room).
- Playdough and Bubbles are still great items to add to the Christmas Stocking
- Art and Craft Supplies such as poster paint, glue and scissors, felt tip pens, glitter, large scrapbooks.
- Small notebooks or Journals with erasable pens (these are still considered magic for kids right up to 12 ad 13 year olds).
Ages 10 - 12 year olds
A bit of Background: if a young person is going to conform to gender stereotypes or completely break free of them, this is probably when it will happen. It is hard to buy gifts for this age group even if you do know them well. Girls at this age will be especially difficult as they approach puberty as little earlier than the boys and will be very confused about what they like. Lots of the items on the lists above could be a winner as well. Try to do a bit of research and if you are really desperate, give them some cash! As the gap between genders is so much bigger at this age group, I'm going to mention some gender specific items.
- Non-Fiction Books are usually a winner in this age group. Titles such as Ripley's Believe it or Not and The Guiness Book of World Records are great for the boys. Instructional Books such as recipe books, art and craft or even how to build a tree house are great for girls.
- Boys and Girls will also enjoy the Where's Wally Books as these are a more difficult version of the Eye Spy books.
- More difficult puzzle books, dot-to-dot and find a word books could be appropriate for both boys and girls.
- iTunes vouchers or a top 100 album for the year (works for both boys and girls)
- A calendar (themes could include sporting teams, cars, teddy bears, animals etc)
- Hair clips/ ribbons, headbands, hair brushes, bobbi-pins, lip gloss and nail polish will be loved by the girls (and maybe even some of the boys).
- Earrings, Bracelets, Bangles, Necklaces, Rings,- any costume jewellery (mostly for girls).
- Socks and Shoelaces (they don't have to be boring).
- Water bottles, Hats, Backpacks,
- Handball (this is still a huge past time in this age group at school)
- Key rings for attaching on the bag or holding house keys.
- A wallet or purse
- Art Supplies,
- A journal, note book or scrapbook (for writing down feelings or keeping notes about people).
- Earphones (opt for novelty or high quality for extra bonus points).
- Anything you can personalise can be cool too, it makes it unique and kids like to feel special as long as they don't stand out from the crowd!
I hope this helps everyone with their Christmas Shopping.
Bear in mind, that cash is something that most 6 year olds know all about. I used to love receiving my birthday card from a certain uncle because it always had a $5 note in it. :)
Your time is also a great gift!! After giving the gift, stay a while and play with the toys or make something together using the art supplies, play handball or listen to music together.
It's almost time for Santa to come!! Next time you will see my handmade Christmas cards and 2016 Christmas Present Wrapping. Have a wonderful weekend!