No one would argue that in pioneer days the holidays were much easier. Gifts were simple and minimal. Grandma didn’t have to wonder, “Should I knit my granddaughter a pair of wool mittens and give her an orange, or will my daughter think that I am upstaging her or being too extravagant?” In a world that has traded in yesterday’s oranges for today’s Apple computers, gift-giving at the holidays may seem like a daunting task for many grandparents. But as Happi Olson, director of sales and marketing at Creative Kidstuff can attest, holiday presents from grandparents doesn’t have to mean giving gifts that might not be appreciated or end up re-gifted.
“While we may traditionally think of grandparents as being older and out of touch, the 50- to 60-year-old grandparents of today are really active and engaged,” says Olson, “They know about technology and media.” Today, the biggest challenge for grandparents has more to do with how quickly grandchildren rewrite their wish list. “In a more traditional market, or in the past, a girl might have wanted a dollhouse, and that idea might have stayed in her mind for a very long time until she finally got it at Christmas,” explains Olson, “But since everything moves so quickly in today’s world, kids are constantly changing their minds.” Olson points out that a good way for everyone to avoid disappointment is for grandparents to talk to the family about what’s at the top of their grandchild’s holiday list.
Collect ’Em All
Another idea is to buy a gift that has collectible pieces that can be expanded over the years, such as Play Mobile, Calico Critters or dollhouse accessories. “With a collectible gift a grandparent might want to buy their grandchild a smaller piece to start with, and if they like it, then buy bigger pieces to add on to later,” says Olson. If there’s no question the grandchild will like the collection, grandparents might want to buy a big anchor piece, which will give them something to build on to for later gift-giving opportunities throughout the year, such as birthdays, she adds.
Collectable toy suggestions:
Calico Critters: $8-$140
Lundby Dollhouse: $99.99
The Gift of Time
Time is a precious commodity for most parents, and one of the “gifts” of being a grandparent is that they often have more time to play with their grandchild than parents do.
“A lot of times grandparents want to give gifts, but what they’re also looking for are opportunities to spend time with their grandkids,” says Olson, “Giving a gift that affords the grandparent and grandchild the opportunity to make or do something special together means that there’s the physical gift itself, but also the experience of doing it together.” Items such as science, baking or craft kits are gifts that give grandparent and grandchild a chance to work side by side, and these experiences can be a wonderful way for them to bond.
Project toy suggestions:
Red Toolbox: $7-$135
Stream Machines Science Kit: $62.95-$$69.95
Little Labs: Science Kits: $16.99-$37
Snap Circuits Light: ($79.99
Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night Master Kitz Children’s Art Kit: $29.99
The Teen in Your Life
If gift-giving for younger grandchildren has its challenges, finding a gift for a teenage grandchild might seem near impossible.
“While teenagers love technology, they do grow tired of being connected to electronics all of the time,” says Olson, “so it might be helpful to think of something that you experienced as a younger person and can have them experience again.” Olson warns that while the “instant gratification” factor might not always be present, this doesn’t always mean that the gift won’t be appreciated. “All of the flashy electronics that teens know what to do with might catch their attention right away, but then their novelty wears off,” explains Olson. “Teens will eventually sit down and play board games with you.”
A Little Extra Help
Even with all of the pointers in the world, shopping for grandchildren can still be a challenging task. With this in mind, Creative Kidstuff offers the annual event entitled “All Wrapped Up Personal Shopping.” Approximately during the week of November 18, Edinans can bring in their list of the kids for whom they are shopping, and a personal shopper will help them find the perfect gifts. If that isn’t enough, the event includes 20 percent off the entire purchase and free gift-wrapping. Now that’s something to be thankful for.