Top tips in choosing gifts for children for the holiday season

The holiday season can be a period of frenzy for most parents. With all the assortment of toys and gadgets, parents feel the pressure in choosing the right gifts that not only will be appreciated but would hopefully also benefit their development.

So how do you decide what to include in your gift list? As a child development specialist, here are my top 5 tips in choosing gifts for children for the holiday season:

  1. Check in with yourself on what you value. I am a big promoter of family culture and gift giving during the holiday season is one of my most appreciated family traditions. This is the period where we as a family can create our own customs and decide how we would like to make this season of gift-giving unique. For the past two years, we have started the tradition of having each member of the family buy a gift for another family member. By giving our kids the experience of looking for something that the other family member will appreciate, we are slowly integrating empathy and consideration.As you check in with yourself, you can also ask the following questions:
    • What does gift-giving mean for you as a family?
    • What does it represent/symbolize?
    • What value/s are you showing or sharing through gift-giving?
    • What family tradition does it promote?
    • What memories would you like your child to associate with this family tradition?
  2. Look at toys and gadgets from a developmental angle. I must admit that I love buying toys for my kids. I love looking at different gadgets and toys and scrutinize them according to what it will give to my children. I always put it in the measurement of : Does it promote development?
    • Does it promote physical development?
      • does it promote hand-eye coordination? Does it develop gross-motor and fine-motor skills?
    • Does it promote social development?
      • is it something they can play with others? Does it teach them about relationships and how to deal with others?
    • Does it promote emotional development
      • Does it teach them skills in identifying their emotions?
    • Does it promote cognitive development?
      • Will it help them develop their thinking skills?
      • Does it provide learning in different topics or themes?
      • Does it promote their reading skills?
      • Does it encourage problem-solving?
      • Does it promote spatial relations skills or the understanding of how things fit together?
    • Does it promote creativity and artistic expression?
      • Does it allow for creative exploration?
    • Does it teach them values that we as a family put in high esteem?
      • Does it coincide with our family values?
  3. Buy toys that are open-ended. Open-ended toys are toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Toys like blocks, lego, toys for sand and water play, story cubes. By providing open-ended toys you let your child’s imagination run wild. It gives them free reign on what they would like to construct and also sharpens their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. The next time you pick a toy, ask yourself, in what other ways can my child play with this
  4. Buy toys that will grow with your child. Buying a sturdy toy not only saves you money but it also lets your child enjoy and create fond memories with it far longer than toys that are easily broken. Look for toys that has multiple levels of learning and that they can use in different stages of their development.  One of my personal favourite are the Smart Games toys which goes from Starter to Mastery levels.
  5. Remember that gifts don’t necessarily have to be only toys. Choose also EXPERIENCE. For the past years we have placed emphasis on “how do we want our kids to remember the holiday season? “ . In answering this question we came up with the idea of giving “experiences” as a gift for our kids. Last year we went to see the Disney Holiday on Ice and the previous years we went to the theatre to watch a musical and have spent a few days in a family vacation place. Gifts that are tied to an experience give so much in terms of remembering the moments shared and valuing the holiday season. Both of which are crucial when building your family culture through distinct family traditions.


About Lana Jelenjev

familyLana Jelenjev is a Family Branding Specialist who focuses on building family cultures. She highlights the value of connecting presence in family relationships, making learning visible at home and advocates for intentionality in parenting.

Lana owns Smart Tinker, a family business that exemplifies what her family believes in and stand for when it comes to LEARNING. It gives a glimpse of their family escapades, the educational toys that they sell and the activities that they do to make learning visible at home.

Smart Tinker is also part of the Think, Talk and Tinker parenting workshop series that provide workshops for parents on topics related to learning, communication and play.