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This Christmas: It’s All About “The Gift”

Gifts are an integral and exciting part of the Christmas holiday. Money is tight for everyone, so each purchase should have a “best gift ever” aspiration. Have a list and stick to it. Don’t get sucked into “one day only” sales – too many items are tempting, so unless it’s on your list, remember to resist!

We polled 50 kids, aged 8-23, about their Christmas experiences to gain some insight. Here are their responses and, as usual, sometimes kids say darndest things!

What are this year’s top Christmas gifts?

No Checks Please – At the top of the “best gifts” list was cash. Cash is king according to 47 young people surveyed across the country (Rochester, NY to Honolulu, HI). The checks get “given to mom who tends to try and control what the money is spent on.” Plus holding money is exciting, holding a check is boring.

Gift cards, but – it has to be to the right store. And the kids have to know there is a gift card inside. A friend was cleaning her son’s room and found a calendar he received as a gift. She discovered small ($10-20) gift cards taped to each month, but since it was a calendar her son stuffed it in his drawer without opening it. Most popular gift cards – for tween and teen boys – Gamestop, iTunes, and Amex (on line). Girls selected iTunes and overall “mall cards” so they are able to use in any store.

Techno-mania – Electronics, in general, came up big as well. Several teen/tweens were asking for an iPod nano 7 with a wristband. Phones are everything to kids now and they want the most updated and cool version they can get. The PSP and Gameboy crowd has rushed over to the iTouch side. If a family does not have a Playstation or Xbox, both have slim new models and games out (Xbox is slightly more popular in the survey). Lucky for those around them, many kids are also asking for noise-cancelling headsets.

Tablets and e-Readers- Many girls mentioned e-Readers as gifts with gift cards to buy books. Some said they would definitely love a Kindle this year – the device price has dropped to $79 from $250 a year ago. Most said they will use iPad as their reading device once the cost of the tablet goes down but still too expensive to expect this year. Favorite books are still the Hunger Games (newest book “The Mockingjay” was recently released) with the movie expected in theaters in March 2012. This is the tween equivalent of the Twilight Series.

Sweats ‘n Sneakers – Boys love sneakers. Jordan sneakers ranked the most fashionable but LeBron sneakers are better on the court. They also like sports clothes. East bay and Stussy are very hip right now (Stussy especially on the west coast). Sports clothing for their favorite teams and players (not yours, theirs) is very popular. Don’t forget to ask who they like – the player on the jersey is important. If jerseys are too expensive, snapback hats are also a great choice.

Jewelry and Watches – Nixon and surf watches are popular with boys but kids wear watches for a fashion statement – they use their electronics to tell time. Tween and teen girls were not interested in watches but LOVE the blue Tiffany box. The under $100 gifts are “the bomb.” They also like backpack decorators from places like Juicy Couture. Tween and teen girls are all about the brand.

Grant a privilege or wish – We had an innovative idea from the younger crowd – give a privilege as a gift. We will give our 13 year-old permission to setup on Facebook as long as she friends me. Good idea on her part, hard to argue the economics for us.

Other notables from the 8-10 year old crowd: they still like toys but not “baby” toys. Boys like to get a football or basketball, and if it has their favorite team logo, all the better. Many boys mentioned Nerf guns as good gifts. The Nerf Vortex Vigilon (with foam discs) was mentioned several times and others are requesting the Lego Mindstorm. They can build their own robot and record sound and speech as well.

Younger kids get their own category:

Say no to clothes – Younger kids (3-7 years old) love presents, toys and unwrapping gifts. They tend to be very easy to please if you stay with toys. Little kids do not consider clothes or pajamas to be gifts. Never give a little girl or boy a sweater!

Brain teasers and games – Peaceable kingdom –promotes team work, P’Kolino has wooden puzzles that can be constructed several different ways for different designs, Piggy Paint is nontoxic nail polish for little ones that may still be biting their nails. With BlueOrange games, the child creates and tells a story- great for inspiring creativity, and Double Shutter is a fun way to learn math skills. Thames and Kosmos has amazing science kits (can build a solar powered car or home powered by wind, solar or water) if your child likes Science and a challenge. Green Toys makes their entire line from recycled milk containers. Two other gifts I think are amazing are the Trash Pack Garbage Truck (age 3-4 boy) and LaLaLoopsy littles for girls who like cute but hip and trendy dolls. I especially like ‘snuggles”.

Our kids are very lucky, and sometimes not appreciative enough, but I was struck by their optimism — they don’t have Christmas baggage yet. They see it as a holiday of pure joy. So let’s get them one perfect gift this year. Happy Holidays.

Eileen Wacker is the award-winning children’s author of the Fujimini Adventure Series. She lives in Honolulu, HI with her husband and four children. For additional information please visit