Gifts for babies and toddlers
At this stage everything is stimulating to those bright eyes but most little ones will be particularly drawn to clear constrasting designs (ie black and white, or black and yellow, for example), varying textures, and things that make noises when touched or pressed.
Taf Toys Clip-on Pram Book. This will keep little fingers happy and busy while studying the clear black and white and colour images, the mirror, as well as the textures. £12.99 (from Toys R Us)
Baby’s Very First Book: Faces by John Fordham. Babies and toddlers love to gaze at faces so they will enjoy the clear back and white images in this rag book. And the mirror is a bonus! £5.99 (from Amazon.co.uk and book shops)
NB If you do find a battery-operated toy that makes noises and lights up make sure it has a volume button so mum and dad aren’t driven bananas, and buy batteries along with it.
Gifts for children from 4 years up to 8
Children during these years develop at vastly different rates – one child may be reading on his or her own, another may only be comfortable listening at storytime, for example – but books or reading materials are almost always a winner.
But rather than just picking up a pile of books from the shop, opt for a reading experience that’s different. For example, most children at this age aren’t getting regular post so subscribing to a magazine can give them year-long joy.
If the child you know really isn’t into books, try giving them a new experience instead: an afternoon at a make-your-own pottery café, a DIY kit, or an animal-feeding experience at the zoo (write out an invitation, put it in a box and wrap it so the child has something to unwrap on the day).
Storytime magazine subscription. With beautiful illustrations and favourite fairytales, each magazine is worth keeping and re-reading. It’ll give you something you can enjoy with them or they can enjoy on their own. Parents will love this gift too! £31.99 for yearly subscription. Other magazine options are National Geographic Kids for animal-mad children, and Discovery Box for little explorers and adventurers.
Lost My Name. A storybook based on child’s name. For younger children, this personalised story with whimsical illustrations where the letters of the child’s name are scattered throughout the book will be fun and educational. As this book is a nice keepsake for the future, parents will also be delighted too. £18.99 (personalised for the child), go to lostmy.name to order.
Gifts for children from 8 to 12
At this pre-teen age schoolfriends can dramatically influence tastes and you’ll find that one month ponies, pirates or mermaids are the big thing then robots, monsters or vampires the next. So how can you be sure to get the right thing?
Forget trends as it’s likely you’ll get it wrong, and get something personalised. Children at this age understand that they are unique and although they might seem to you to dress the same way as their friends and listen to the same music, they are still proud of their uniqueness! Show them you understand with something personalised.
Etsy Kids’ Personalised. A backpack with the child’s initials, a tent with their name, an apron, necklace or a painting – whatever you might want, you can find it on Etsy. Go to https://www.etsy.com/browse/kids-category/personalized to look specifically for personalised items for children.
A signed copy. If you know for sure that the child has a passion for a certain band or author, for example, investigate something personalised for them. For example, at www.universalposter.com, you can find One Direction posters where you can add your own text in the stars’ handwriting.
Gifts for children from 12 and up
So here’s where it gets really tough – some teens will groan before they’ve even seen what you’ve bought, others will at least be polite enough to pretend they like that new ‘fashionable’ jumper you bought them from M&S.
At this point, it’s best to give something you know for sure they will use – a voucher, for example. But it needn’t be a WHSmith voucher, better would be also available are Arcadia (Topman, Burton and Topshop), or Amazon, or Love2shop where they can find music, films and games. It’s also possible to get event vouchers.