One of the most unexpected traumas of parenting has been having to choose gifts for other people’s children. Every time the girls go to a birthday party, I have to choose birthday gifts by age because I know nothing about the individual child. In that respect, Wicked Uncle have some brilliant children’s gift ideas. Their website lists gifts by category, age and boys or girls. You can filter down further by choosing the age you’re buying for and then heading to a category. Here are my top tips for choosing a gift for a child when all you know about them is how old they’ll be.
Birthday gifts by age: Ask your child to help
Sometimes, my children come up with the wildest ideas of what to buy for their friends. Asking what the birthday boy or girl enjoys is met with, “Well, he loves horses. Let’s buy him a pony!” Other times though, they know exactly what to buy. My youngest daughter went to a fourth birthday party for her best friend a few years ago. As soon as she had the party invite, she knew exactly what to buy. Her bestie loved dinosaurs and she was absolutely certain we needed to buy him a cuddly dinosaur. She was right. His mum messaged me afterwards to say how much he loved it.
In general though, I find that asking the children what to buy their friends works better when I set parameters. We chat about buying birthday gifts by age and what is appropriate for that child. The kids let me know what their friend is interested in. A child who loves art is an ideal candidate for a craft set or something unusual like a rock painting kit. A sporty friend will enjoy an active, outdoorsy toy or something that can be used for exercise. Sometimes the children have no idea what the birthday boy or girl is interested in. I tend to find this happens less as they get older though because it was very much a symptom of the stage at the beginning of primary school where everyone invited the whole class to their birthday party.
Buying gifts by age: remember toys are toys
Some of my girls’ favourite gifts have been presents that would ordinarily be aimed at boys. The one that stands out the most is the football and goalie gloves that my brother bought them. It was one gift that they were happy to share, after all football isn’t much fun on your own. Owning a football also made Libby realise that she was actually quite good at controlling it and led her to try out playing football at school. Now, every day she plays football with the boys in her class. She has made friends, grown in confidence and developed skills in a sport she’d never considered before. We often have a kick around as a family too.
Birthday gifts by age: Presents my children have loved
It’s often the way that children don’t use the big gifts as much as you think they will. So, the small token gift a child takes to a party might end up being the recipient’s favourite. Here are a selection of gifts that my children have received that really have kept on giving.
- A football. See above.
- Board games. These are lovely gifts that lead to family time spent playing together.
- Crafts and stationery. There’s nothing better on a rainy day than sitting down to do some crafting, painting or drawing. My girls have had some painting by numbers as gifts and have been so proud of their masterpieces.
- Sewing or cross stitch. Much like crafts, sewing is a lovely way to pass the time and create something you’re proud of.
- Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles and logic puzzles are great for a child to occupy themselves alone. Libby had a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas and it’s never far away. She hasn’t solved it yet though.
- Outdoor toys. A bucket and spade, hula hoop, ball or boomerang can lead to hours of summer fun.
- Gardening set. My girls absolutely loved growing vegetables with me last year. Children’s gardening tools or seeds to plant would make a great gift.
- Books. There is something so satisfying about buying a favourite book for someone. The chances are if your child loves a particular book their friends will too.
Please do leave me a comment if there’s a gift your child has particularly loved. It’s always great to have some extra ideas to fall back on.