Giving a gift can be as pleasurable as receiving one – yet it’s amazing how many of us choose the wrong gifts to give or put on Santa’s list for our children.
New research by toy brand Hasbro has found more than half of parents admit their child has been disappointed with a Christmas present they or other family members or friends have selected for them, and 44 per cent say they’ve struggled to know what gift to choose.
And they’re not alone – the research found a third of grandparents buy unsuitable gifts for grandchildren at Christmas, closely followed by aunties (30 per cent), distant relatives (26 per cent) and friends (24 per cent).
Hasbro has created a play personality quiz so parents wanting to give their kids the best Christmas gifts can select things they’ll really enjoy playing with, instead of gifts discarded by St Stephen's Day.
“Science has shown a child’s play personality has a huge impact on the types of toys they’ll enjoy playing with and also the way they learn and develop,” explains child psychologist Dr Laverne Antrobus. “By identifying a child’s most dominant play personalities, parents and gift givers may be more likely to choose a compatible present for their child this Christmas.”
And by asking yourself a few simple questions you can nail the art of gift-giving to both children and adults, promises Kim Brookes, who ran an online gift-registry for more than 10 years.
Have kids so that instead of real gifts you can give friends and family novelty photo items with pictures of your children they saw on social media 6 months ago.
— Some Boys' Mother (@someboysmother) December 10, 2019
“Now’s the time to show your family just how much you love them by way of the perfect gift,” she says. “This is an opportunity not to be squandered, but one that causes a lot of stress at this time of year, as we really want to get it right.”
Brookes, who now runs the natural scent jewellery brand Perfino, suggests people choosing gifts ask themselves these questions…
1. Do they really need it?
Think about the person you’re buying for. You want to give them something that’s meaningful, not just for Christmas. Something that won’t be part of the re-gifting cycle any time soon. So, it needs to be something they really want, rather than a short-term fad. “Subscriptions are a good option for this,” says Brookes. “Perhaps a comic or magazine – a gift that reminds them of you every month.”
2. Just because you love it, does that mean they will?
Remember who you’re buying for and always keep their tastes and preferences at the forefront of your mind. “They may not want the chemistry set when their favourite subject is art, or the history book when they love nothing better than a murder mystery,” stresses Brookes.
3. Have you really put proper thought into it?
Don’t rush to buy something just because it’s there, without giving any thought to the person you’re buying for, says Brookes. “This is the worst offence,” she insists, “as it shows little consideration. Try to find some time to think long and hard about the child or person you’re buying for, and you’ll know what’ll make them happy, even if it’s not to your taste. Thankfully we’re all different.”
4. Have you gone too big (or too small)?
Brookes points out that while a gift recipient might love a trip to an adventure park for Christmas, and be a bit put out with a stick of deodorant, you’ll have a sense of what’s right. “And be very careful not to escalate,” she warns, “as you’ll be digging a hole for yourself on future gifting occasions.”
5. Is it really eco-friendly?
This question now has to be at the front of everyone’s minds, for your own satisfaction as well as the good of the planet, says Brookes. “I find the easiest way to do this is to trust who you’re buying from,” she says. “Most businesses will now put their eco credentials front and centre and, if they don’t, look for one that does. Once you trust them, you can buy with an easy conscience.”
6. Have they already got it?
If a potential gift is new and super-popular, it’s possible your gift recipient may already have it. If the gift’s for your own child, there’s a chance someone else may have bought it for them. “The best way forward could be to make some subtle enquiries,” advises Brookes, “and if you take the leap and buy, at least keep the receipt and be upfront about how happy you’d be to facilitate an exchange.”
7. Are consumables a good choice?
“We have so much at this time of year, so I’d avoid more chocolate, more sweets, more of anything unless it’s an extra-special treat – something they wouldn’t normally have, but which you know they’d enjoy,” suggests Brookes.
8. Are smellies always a winner?
Smelly oils, creams etc may work for older children, teenagers and adults – but only if you know they like that sort of thing, warns Brookes, who says that, again, such items need to be really special to be a good gift. “Bath oil is my favourite thing,” she says, “but obviously it’s not for someone who only takes showers.”
9. Is it really appropriate?
Consider whether something is age-appropriate for children and, of course, avoid anything made from plastic, stresses Brookes.
10. Is it going to look fabulous under the tree?
It’s a minor consideration, but Brookes says if you make the unwrapping experience a joyful one it can add that little bit of lovely Christmas sparkle to your (well-chosen) gift. “Ribbons, fabric, or even a drop of festive essential oil on the wrapping paper always work wonders,” she adds.