What a kid wants: Yuletide ideas for the youngsters
Navigating the onslaught of kid-focused advertising this time of year can be exhausting. From preschoolers' cries of “I want that!” to teenagers’ desires to have the most trendy items around, it’s hard to find the perfect gifts. Check out our ideas for practical and unique presents for the youngsters on your list. From babies to teens, we’ve got you covered.
Educational: Fill up her library with some classics. Copies of “Goodnight Moon” and “Pat the Bunny” will become favorites in no time.
Practical: Babies spend so much time in footed pajamas, how about adding to the lot? Find the perfect pair to match the baby’s personality.
What’s hot this year? Memorialize an infant’s earliest days with a photo book. Created online with your pictures at sites like Shutterfly, these professional looking books will be cherished for years to come.
Wrap it Up: Tuck a plush lamb or teddy inside your frilly bows. The bows and the stuffed animal will be a hit.
Educational: Even baby boys love cars. Find an old-fashioned simple wooden vehicle with moveable wheels to begin his collection.
Practical: Infants can never have enough bodysuits. Break from the traditional white to find blues and grays with trucks and bugs.
What’s hot this year? Simple toys that take parents back in time are hot this year. What little boy wouldn’t love a classic sock monkey to grow up with?
Wrap it up: Any small toy is the perfect present-topper. Just fasten with ribbon or tape for an extra-special gift.
Educational: Babies will love learning through playtime with interactive toys like Mr. Bigglees Ball. Equipped with funny sounds and noises in response to the youngster’s movement, the ball teaches cause and effect.
Practical: There’s nothing wrong with going back to basics. Pack a pretty basket full of diapers, organic soaps and lotions, even baby food to make Mom and Dad’s life a breeze.
What’s hot this year? Help babies enjoy tummy time with a floor mat. Available in vibrant colors and styles, this activity mat fosters a child’s back and neck strength.
Wrap it up: Top presents with fresh sets of tiny cutlery for little hands. When he or she is ready, everything will be on hand.
Educational: Get her a cube of books. Her little hands will love the chunky books, which come in nearly every subject, as well as unpacking and packing the carrying box.
Practical: So many stores offer cozy hooded bath towels that will last for years. Supplement her collection with something bubble-gum pink.
What’s hot this year? Make sure she’s ready when the spirit strikes. Outfit the little ballerina in the fluffiest tutu you can find. Throw in some ballet shoes to match.
Wrap it up: Top her gift with necessities: a new hairbrush and mirror to admire her locks.
Educational: Now is a great time to introduce him to puzzles. Available with his favorite characters and easily maneuverable pieces, he’ll want to do it again and again.
Practical: Magnetic dress-up dolls are for boys, too. Pirate, policeman, knight and fireman outfits are sure to inspire his creativity.
What’s hot this year? Little guys will love falling asleep with nightlights that put stars on the ceiling. Available in all shapes and styles, these dreamy luminaries ease little ones to bed for years.
Wrap it up: For a big reaction, find a toothbrush featuring his favorite superhero to fasten to the top of the package.
Educational: Dressing up is perfect creative play for boys and girls. Choose from the plethora of learn-and-play costumes on the market today, such as doctors, firefighters, veterinarians, police, cowboys and more.
Practical: Help little ones track their progress with a whimsical growth chart. Land of Nod offers 17 colorful styles; all can be personalized.
What’s hot this year? Kids are learning all the time. Make sure they have their names down early with block letters to hang on the wall. They’re available at many stores and craft centers.
Wrap it up: The love of ornaments or holiday decorations begins at an early age. Start an annual tradition by working something special and holiday specific into the wrapping.
Educational: The book “Pinkalicious” by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann is whimsical and fun and couldn’t be more girly. She’ll love it.
Practical: Activities can be especially limited in winter months. Give your little gal a new class that she’s been asking to try. Your gift will keep giving all winter long.
What’s hot this year? Imaginative play is always hot with preschoolers. Give her an apron and some pretend wooden food sets to get her creative juices flowing.
Wrap it up: Go crazy with ribbon! What little girl wouldn’t love a gift topped with loads of different bows?
Educational: Brush up on the ABCs with an educational DVD like “Leap Frog’s Letter Factory.” He’ll be ready for kindergarten in no time.
Practical: Check out the tee-ball sets with the ball on a string. It’ll entertain your little guy without you having to chase the ball down.
What’s hot this year? For fast but quiet fun, consider the revolutionary PlasmaCar. A riding toy that harnesses inertia to operate, this toy will entertain them until they’re upward of 100 pounds.
Wrap it up: Top boxes with an early-reader book about his favorite character or topic.
Educational: Get imaginations in overdrive with a play kitchen set. Available in everything from old-fashioned wood to elaborate sturdy plastic sets, kids love acting like mom or dad in their own kitchen.
Practical: Consider purchasing a set of hatboxes or other decorative storage containers. Now is the best time to help them learn the value of keeping things organized.
What’s hot this year? There are so many kid-friendly flicks this season. Create a cinema-themed invitation for a night out at the movies with your little one.
Wrap it up: Ditch the wrapping paper and cover gifts in inexpensive maps for a quick geography lesson.
5 to 10 year olds
Educational: Books, books and more books. Buy her an entire collection of her favorite chapter stories and read them together.
Practical: Let’s face it, sleepovers are on the horizon. Get her ready with her own sleeping bag, which many retailers might be able to personalize.
What’s hot this year? For most girls, it just doesn’t get much hotter than anything American Girl. With a new addition each year and loads of accessories, you just can’t go wrong with this choice.
Wrap it up: Inspire her inner artist with fresh crayons and markers as a present-topper.
Educational: Get him excited about science. Experiment kits feature a wide variety of topics, including weather, volcanoes, geology and motion.
Practical: He’s likely ready for his own digital camera. Find a sturdy one and watch how he captures the world around him.
What’s hot this year? For hours of outdoor excitement, pick up the Razor Rip Rider 360. This is a bigger-kid big wheel, sure to entertain your grade-schooler.
Wrap it up: Save the sports or comics section of the newspaper and use it as wrapping for an interesting read at gift-giving time.
Educational: This is a great time for flashcards. Available by grade level or subject-centered, kids will love the opportunity to learn at home or on the go.
Practical: Each summer, pools and beaches are a hot destination for the 5-to-10-year-old crowd. Personalized beach towels are available in every size, shape and color and ensure kids won’t bring someone else’s home.
What’s hot this year? Consider a magazine subscription for the child in your life. Kids love to get mail and benefit greatly from the reading and learning games that are a part of many magazines like National Geographic Kids and Sports Illustrated Kids.
Wrap it up: Use ribbon portraying a favorite activity (princess crowns, horses, race cars) on plain white paper for a unique look.
Trendy: No one can blow through an iTunes gift card faster than a tween. Give her one and wait for the noise to begin.
Fun: Blow your daughter’s mind with a room makeover, perfect in time for the approaching teen years. Let her know which items are due for a change and spend a weekend shopping and setting up her new stylish digs.
Classic: She’ll love the stories and snippets in American Girl: Magazine. Add a subscription to her stocking this year.
Wrap it up: Fun costume jewelry is icing on the cake for tween girls. Add a colorful jewelry bag to the top of her gift.
Trendy: He’ll love reading about the crazy feats accomplished in the latest edition of the “Guiness Book of World Records.” Find out what silly endeavors it inspires in your tween.
Fun: Find out your tween’s favorite team and splurge on tickets to a game. He’ll love it and you’ll have the one-on-one time you’ve been longing for.
Classic: Speaking of sports, sportswear is all the rage. Use your “favorite team” knowledge to outfit him in a comfortable new T-shirt or baseball cap.
Wrap it up: Does he collect sports cards? Add a few special ones to the top as an added surprise.
Trendy: There’s nothing trendier among the tween set than a Nintendo DS. With so many colors and games to choose from, there’s no doubt you’ll please the sometimes-fickle tween on your list.
Fun: Encourage healthy snacking and ensure your gift will be used over and over. Give your tween his or her own popcorn maker.
Classic: Music is big, and nothing is more important to your musical collection than an MP3 player. Give it with a gift card for downloads.
Wrap it up: Everyone should have a journal. Pick out a colorful one to add under the ribbon.
Trendy: You know her favorite stores and you can bet they’re trendy. A gift card gives her the opportunity to show her sense of style while letting you be the hero who’s given her the chance to do so.
Fun: Even teens need pampering. A gift card for a manicure and pedicure will be enjoyed for sure. Better yet, join her for the event.
Classic: Even though the world’s been taken over by the typed word, the handwritten one still speaks volumes. Choose some personalized stationary that matches her style.
Wrap it up: Wrap small gifts inside colorful scarves. You’ll be adding a trendy touch to her wardrobe in addition to your main gift.
Trendy: The lifelike video games on the market are all the rage. Why not bolster his collection by getting this year’s hot new release?
Fun: What’s his favorite TV show? Fill his stocking with a box set from last season.
Classic: Check out the entertainment contained in “Amazing But True Sport Stories” by Phyllis and Zander Hollander. Give the gift of reading about something he’s sure to find interesting.
Wrap it up: Use a banner from his favorite university and affix it to top of a gift.
Trendy: Any teenager would salivate at the thought of an Abercrombie & Fitch gift card. Available for use in-store or online, this choice works for teens anywhere.
Fun: Plan a college visit from the short list. With this next phase of life on the horizon, you can get the collegiate juices flowing.
Classic: More than ever, teens are embracing service and volunteerism and looking for ways to give back. Donate your time and help your teen work for a charity of his or her choosing.
Wrap it Up: When it boils down to it, they’re still just kids. Top their gifts with satchels of Swedish fish or chocolate-covered pretzels.