If you have kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friends with kids, chances are you’ve shopped for a birthday gift or two. Depending on how well you know the child, choosing a gift he or she will love isn’t always easy. And it’s also important to keep the parents and their living situation in mind, too.
For example, a drum set for your nephew Danny probably won’t go over well if his family lives in a small apartment. Or a new puppy for your best friend’s daughter is probably a no-no if her little brother is allergic to dogs.
So, as you see, picking the right gift takes a little bit of thought. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go shopping.
1. Make sure it’s age appropriate. This should be a no-brainer, but many people don’t check the recommended age on toys or games prior to purchase. Age ranges can be important for safety reasons and also to make sure any challenge involved isn’t too easy or difficult.
2. Ask for a gift receipt. No matter how much research you do, the gift you purchase may not be a good fit for the child or they may receive duplicates. Make life easy for the parents to help the child exchange the gift for an appropriate replacement if necessary.
3. Take the child’s interests into account. If you don’t know the birthday boy or girl very well, ask the parents or someone else close to the child about his or her favorite activities. This will help you choose a present they will really enjoy. Gifts that provide learning opportunities that tie into their interests will also win you kudos from mom and dad. If the child likes:
- Arts and crafts – look for art supplies, kits or books that help them learn about different genres such as painting, pottery, jewelry, weaving, etc.
- Music – look for fun instruments that are easy to learn to play (kazoo, recorder, harmonica), tickets to a concert or music-based video games.
- Building things – look for building blocks for little ones, classic and traditional building kits like Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys or light up construction toys and kits like Laser Pegs®.
- Science – look for gifts that allow them to explore close to home, books that teach them about experiments or tickets to a local science museum.
- The outdoors – look for binoculars, camping and fishing gear, bug discovery kits and habitats, or books about the environment, animals and more.
- Writing – look for a cool writing tools (pens, markers), a fun diary or journal, a thesaurus, word games (Scrabble®), books or movies about famous writers.
- Archaeology – look for fossil and dinosaur building kits toys and games, books about searching for relics, ruins and famous archaeological digs.
4. Think outside the gift box. If you are close to the child, spending time together can the greatest gift of all. Consider making a date to share time at a fun event or venue such as a day at the park, bowling, movie, museum, carnival or concert and purchase a few mementos on that day.
If you’re still struggling to choose a birthday gift or present for another occasion, gift cards are almost always a good idea. Just ask the child’s parent or guardian to suggest an appropriate store or location.