Kids’ Christmas Shopping

Many years ago, before I had kids of my own, I used to take my niece, then about 6 or 7 years old, Christmas shopping.  I gave her a modest budget and let her pick out gifts for her brother, her parents and grandparents, and my wife.  We’d get half a dozen presents and spend about twenty dollars or so.  Fast forward about ten years and she’s quite capable of doing her own holiday shopping.

My kids, however, are at the age my niece was, back then.  The difference, however, is that I have three kids and the number of people to get gifts for has skyrocketed, courtesy of marriages and births.  Nonetheless, I believe it’s important to give kids a sense of self-sufficiency and responsibility and letting them pick gifts for others is a good way to do it.

Finances, time, and other logistical constraints have limited their shopping ventures to picking out gifts for their siblings, but I’ve decided that next year I will take each of them on a shopping trip to let them find something their siblings, their cousins, and their grandparents would like.  The key is to focus on finding something the recipients would appreciate, at least in theory, rather than on spending a lot of money.

If, for example, Grandpa plays the piano, perhaps a pen decorated with musical notes would make him smile.  Or if Grandma likes to bake cookies, an oven mitt would be appropriate.  By sticking to inexpensive gifts, it is possible to keep the overall total low; consider checking out dollar stores and thrift shops.  Remember that the goal is to teach your kids to think about what others would like (no Harry Potter LEGOs for Grandma and baby brother does NOT need a pocket knife) and to give them a sense of accomplishment for having chosen the gifts themselves.

Sure, the camping gear you’ll find at the likes of Target or K-Mart is likely to be not what a serious backpacker might choose for themselves, but that a child picked the gift themself will make it far more valuable than the price tag might suggest.  And the gift of independence and responsibility you give your kids will be even more worthwhile.

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