As a father of three girls, the thought of buying Christmas presents is a little intimidating. It’s not that buying the presents is difficult or even time consuming. What makes me nervous is the thought that I’m getting them the wrong gift. It seems the older the girl, the more specific the wish list. I guess that’s true of boys as well, but I relate more to a boy’s way of thinking.
My youngest daughter is seven and she’s by far the easiest of the three. At this age, the most important thing is that there are presents, not what’s inside the packages. As long as she can play with it, she’s happy. She even pretends to appreciate the various articles of clothing mixed in with the toys. Of course the “must have” toy of the year plays into her wish list, but she’s really not too picky.
My middle daughter is twelve, and it starts to get more challenging with her. The social structure of her peer group is more developed, so the choices of clothing are more important. Everything has to trendy while remaining practical. Shoes are more important with girls these days than when I was young. At least I don’t remember the girls in school caring what shoes they wore. And the “toys” get more expensive at this age, too. No longer are Barbie’s acceptable although, truth be known, she still plays with her little sister from time to time. Today’s tweenagers are more interested in the latest cell phone or mp3 player. Music is the great equalizer across the generations. Although we listened to different genres, music is still as important as it was 30 years ago.
My oldest daughter is fourteen. I’m sure it will only get worse as she gets older, but she’s already getting pretty expensive. The clothes now need to be a brand name, and the price of the electronics is starting to melt my wallet. She thinks she “needs” her own laptop now, and her headphones must be studio quality. It’s interesting at this age to see how she interacts with her friends when it comes to gift giving. They get quite creative in their gifts, and they’re almost always linked to an inside joke. Since when did an orange with a face drawn on it become an acceptable gift? But the whole group of girls burst out in laughter when the gift is opened, so I guess it was the perfect gift.
As it always turns out, they love everything regardless of the content of the package. When you are engaged in your children’s lives, the right gift idea seems to percolate to the front of your mind. Whether it’s something related to a hobby or an extracurricular activity, being an active part of your child’s life is the most important way to ensure you get the right gift.
When it comes to shopping for the gifts, I just can’t do the mall thing. It’s too crowded this time of year, and it takes too long to browse the stores. I can get much more done online in the relative peace and quiet of the house. As many people line up at midnight on Black Friday to get the good deals at the stores, I shop on Cyber Monday to get the best deals online. Don’t forget to search for coupons that will add to your savings. Then just sit back and wait for the packages to arrive on your door step.
The last thing to consider is stocking stuffers. This area is wide open for creative ideas. Great gift ideas for the stocking range from candy to jewelry. My girls love to get hair clips, fancy pony-tail ties, earrings, makeup (for my oldest) and lip gloss. These are all small items, so you save yourself the hassle of trying to wrap a stick of lip gloss by putting it in the stocking. Gift cards are another idea for stockings. A gift card for their favorite store will ensure they get exactly what they want without any concern. I usually stick to iTunes gift cards, since I never know what kind of music they want anyway. A few pieces of special candy top off the stocking. Lindor balls are always a hit at our house. Stockings are usually done after the presents under the tree as the girls are winding down, so the smaller things help them calm down after all the excitement.
Another thing to keep in mind is gift-equality. You may not remember doing it yourself, but kids will add up their gifts and compare to their siblings. This is usually seen in the younger kids, since the older ones realize their gifts are more expensive, so they get fewer. It can lead to a tense discussion on Christmas morning about the real meaning of the holiday.
In the end, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing the joy on their faces on Christmas morning as they tear into the wrapping paper.