How to pick perfect presents for children

(AD) There is nothing like that look of absolute wonder and excitement on a child’s face when they open a perfect present. Their eyes light up, they might squeak with excitement, it’s a special moment for everyone. The thing is though it’s a split second response based on the excitement of ripping open the wrapping paper and while getting that reaction is great you also want them to choose to play with that gift time and time again. So how do you choose a present children will love whether they are 3, 8 or 14 years old? Here are 4 tried and tested ways to pick perfect gifts for children.

A pile of presents in different wrapping papers all chosen specially to be perfect for a child
How can you make sure what you buy is the perfect present for a child?

The best birthdays or Christmases have a combination of lots of different presents. Ideally children need to have physical gifts they can rip the paper off and presents for the different sides of their personality so that when they fancy some quiet time reading, a focused activity or more mindless fun there is one of their new presents they can grab. I love to mix these presents up with a few experiences so they have something they remember in a few years time and at least one gift should be a “Wow!” gift. What is a wow gift? It’s the present that when they are asked what they got they immediately remember so rather than saying “I got lots of things” they say with excitement: “I got a bike!”, “I got a zebra!” or “I got a giant inflatable pizza!”. It doesn’t have to be the biggest or most expensive gift, but a wow gift is fun,  exciting and something they will love to talk about.

So How Do You Choose That Perfect Gift For A Child?

Try Asking Them?

It might seem like an obvious question, but asking children outright “what do you want for…?” your birthday or Christmas can get mixed results. I have been standing next to my children when they have been asked this question and been shocked by their suggestions. They seem to say the first thing that comes to mind and it might have never been mentioned before or since. So feel free to ask, but take the answer with a pinch of salt. When they are sure they want something there is also the chance they have told multiple people the same thing and you don't want to get a duplicate.

Often the best presents are those people didn’t even know they wanted because the recipient didn’t realise it existed. More creative questions will help you identify their interests so you can narrow down your search. So instead of asking the direct "what do you want?", try more conversational questions: are they more into dinosaurs or puppies? Superheroes or princesses? What colours do they love? Are they more outdoorsy, creative, love tech? It's important not to just go on gender stereotypes or even what they loved a year ago. Children can change fast.

Ask Close Family

Questions to children really need to be asked face to face and at a they are interested in talking to get any useful response, so what happens if you won’t be seeing them in person? Ask the parents. Having said that I am a nightmare when people ask me about my children because they enjoy so many things. It’s a lot easier for me if someone asks “does she like x?” than if they give me an open ended question. Generally my middle daughter will go for more traditional boys toys and my eldest for more traditional girls toys, but then whatever the other person is given they ALWAYS want to play with.

But what happens if you are the parent and you get a different answer every time you talk to them? 

Get sneaky!

If you live with the child or visit them regularly keep on eye on what sort of toys the child plays with over and over again. What keeps them engaged for hours? Do they get absorbed into crafts or does it take longer to clean up than set up? Are there characters they love? Do they love to role play? Is their nose always in a book? What sort of toys do they show an interest in every time the ad break comes on TV? You also need to think about the child's age and development level eg how well can they read and what is their hand to eye coordination like. Write your ideas down throughout the year and then when it’s near their birthday or Christmas you have a good place to start. 

Ask the experts

If you have a good idea of a child’s interests how do you find a new and exciting gift to buy?  When it comes to toys most of us don’t have the time to wander round a whole toy store looking at what is actually in all those boxes and Amazon is just too big for browsing so I recommend looking at gift guides and websites which curate their collection carefully to just include their favourite presents. Wicked Uncle for instance has filters for different age groups and interests. 

As a family blogger who normally goes to Toy Fairs and receives a lot of information about the latest toys I have a much wider idea of what is out there than watching TV adverts and a quick browse will give you. If you are looking for more unusual and interesting gifts it’s definitely worth checking out a curated children’s gift selection.

If you are looking for gifts for adults instead why not check the suggestions in my gift guide for best friends or these secret santa gift ideas.

So now you know how to find the perfect gift, get buying...


  1. I have a dozen nieces and nephews as well as 3 of my own so trying to remember who is into what is HARD! We have a messenger group where if our child comments on something they would like we take a sneaky pic or drop a link into the chat. It has been a godsend when picking gifts!!


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