Should Christmas gifts have a purpose?

When choosing gifts for your children, do you put a lot of intellectual thought into it, or just grab an easier option (like what the kids are nagging for!)?

In an ideal world, I think we should have a purpose in mind for the gifts we give our children.

For example, we may decide it is important to encourage activity rather than sedentary lifestyle so we chose (predominantly at least) gifts to suit that lifestyle value. Or maybe healthy eating is important to you so you give dried fruit instead of lollies and healthy cook books rather than chocolate ones!

Instead of overall values, maybe the purpose of for gifts would suit each child and help with things they need to develop (maybe Scrabble for someone struggling with reading, jigsaws for those not skilled in problem solving or Pictionary or Cazoo for kids who need more communication skills).

As much fun and pleasure as kids derive from opening the gifts at Christmas, surely we should keep the big picture in mind and choose gifts that lead the child in directions we like?

Mind you, I am not saying give kids presents they’ll hate – let them enjoy Christmas and we want them to use the purposeful gifts. Just find a compromise – don’t give an inactive kid a bike but perhaps give an electronic game that involves moving or a scooter for getting to and from school.

What do you think? Is it better to choose gifts with a purpose, that support your goals and aims as parents (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc)?

If not completely about purpose, what proportion of their gifts would you like to have a purpose?

14 Responses to Should Christmas gifts have a purpose?

  • Joanna says:

    I always tried to give kids ‘educational’ gifts when I was young – and certainly avoided trashy things. But Idid learn that almost anything can be educational as much of kids’ time is playing to learn so can be building social skills, creativity, problem solving, logic and vocabulary just from some toys cars, a tea set, any book, some dolls, etc.

  • Santa's Elf says:

    You’re right, Joanna – kids can learn from all sorts of things so a plastic container and a wooden spoon can be as educational as some expensive gadget labelled as ‘educational and developmental toy’. I too moved away from specifically getting educational and worthwhile toys as all toys can fit that category (although toys that teach violence I still avoid).
    So I removed ‘education’ as a gif purpose, but try for other purposes (health, exercise and creativity are probably my top 3, depending on the child involved.)

  • Akela says:

    I think just thoughtful gifts in general is a purpose. That is, by giving gifts that means something I am showing I care, by giving one gift you will use instead of a few junky ones I am protecting the environment and teaching kids value over quantity, and by giving positive gifts I am encouraging children to become good people.

  • SantaLover says:

    When you’re buying for children, I like to get educational toys that are not only fun, but are teaching them at the same time. However, I am not against giving gifts that don’t serve a purpose. This would be a fun gift, such as candy or nuts,or a favorite magazine subscription.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      SOunds like you go for balance, SantaLover. And with time I realised that so many things not considered educational actually can be so I get less caught up int at worry anymore.

  • tajnz says:

    I think a mix of presents work well. Yes practical presents but also some presents that are just plain fun. During the year we often live our lives buying what is practical so I find Christmas is a good time to buy loved ones things they desperately want but won’t splash out on for themselves. So many people find it easy to spend on others but don’t buy themselves anything they want.

  • ACSAPA says:

    Honestly, I love video games as much as my daughter does. So I enjoy getting her the video games she wants. Video games are an art form, from the concept art to the voice acting and the story. They are movies that you interact with. I don’t feel like I’m hindering my daughter’s education or harming her by buying her the games she wants so badly. She has the entire year to be purposeful and study. The holidays to me are about fun.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      I think most gifts have an educational element to them anyway – and carefully chosen video games are no exception (I say carefully chosen as I don’t like kids getting violent or adult-centric oens). And even better if its something you can enjoy together, ACSAPA.

      It sounds like your gifts do have a purpsoe though – to be fun and fun you can share 🙂

  • pocs says:

    If we are talking small children, most of it would be toys so that doesn’t really count. Whennmy children were smaller, I would make sure every year there was something with meaning. Usually something handed down innthe family or something homemade. For adults and grown children, absolutely gifts should have meaning. I don’t believe in buying a gift, just for the sake of buying a gift. I have a limited budget and very frugal, so I put a lot of thought in my gift giving.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      I put a lot of thought in my gift giving

      That does not surprise me at all, pocs 🙂

      I know I vlaue the gifts I get where I can see soemone has put thought and effort into it more than I value the gifts that possibly cost more but were done in a hurry because it ‘had to be done’. The same reason I (generally) hate giving shop vouchers as gifts – it seems like a cop out to me.

  • pocs says:

    I agree vouchers do seem like a cop out. I hate giving them. I usually only use them for a gift for someone I really don’t know that well for things like baby showers or wedding showers. Never for Christmas.

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