In case you haven’t noticed from the stores decking their halls since October, the holiday season is upon us. Whether that means Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Three Kings Day, St. Nicholas Day, New Years, or more, I am sure I am not versed in; it is the time of year people give gifts.
I do a lot of reading and writing for my job, and this time of year, I repeatedly see titles or requests for expert opinion on the “Best Gifts for Girls” or “Top Boy Gifts in 2020”.
It makes me cringe. Here’s Why.
I thought we were moving past all this “boy stuff” and “girl stuff”? If you don’t know my full background with gender theory, I invite you to go back and read my post, “Boys Can Like Pink Too!”
Long story short, I studied and wrote my master thesis on the topic. Erasing gender stereotypes has been a quest for my early childhood career.
Just to clarify, I am not saying give your son a barbie doll if he doesn’t want one or your daughter a toolset if she has no interest. But, I AM saying don’t judge a gift by the gender of the child receiving it and don’t make assumptions a child will like a gift based on their gender.
Children today are much more likely to play with something previously deemed gender-specific for the opposite sex.
My oldest son loves all things reptile and Batman, and he makes bracelets out of those tiny (annoying) rubber bands. My youngest is an engineer at heart, loves science kits, and he owns a sparkly pink jacket because he loves to dance and thinks it makes him look like Michael Jackson.
Kids don’t fit into a one size fits all gift guide.
One of the best ways to gauge what a child likes is to ask them. I am also a big fan of the old school method of providing them with a catalog and having them put their initials next to items they wanted.
I was surprised this year by my six-year-old picking out a set of pajamas!
If you ask their input, there is no guessing. To help your relatives out (especially grandmas and such), create an online wishlist that you can pass out. Or send out a generic theme such as Mickey Mouse, Paw Patrol, Legos, or American Girl Dolls.
When you give a child gifts, include the gift receipt and make sure the parents know where to find it; if it ends up being a duplicate gift, no foul, they can just exchange it for something else.
Want something even better than a gift? Gift a child an experience or membership. Over the years, my children’s grandparents have purchased them memberships to museums, the zoo, put money towards summer camps, and paid for our Disney+ annual subscription.
You can give them a coupon for a weekend at your home and visiting a favorite place of their choosing. You can put money towards programs they want to participate in, like coding classes, magic school, or musical instrument lessons.
Gifts don’t have to be things; they can be experiences.
The long and short is, buy gifts based on who the child is and not what gender-specific marketed toy companies make you believe is appropriate.
If you are genuinely at a loss, buy a gift card to a popular store or site. I understand that some people find that to be impersonal, but I can tell you as the mother of two children under 10 – They LOVE it!
A gift card gives them the power to make their own decisions, which is an important skill when it comes to learning how to manage money.
Most importantly, though, a gift that comes from the heart will never be wrong. If you are taking time to choose the perfect gift for someone young or old, when your heart is in it, that is truly all that matters.