Christmas Shopping by Age

After enough years of shopping for Christmas gifts, one should be able to pin down a formula for what to buy. The different kinds of gifts you buy should reflect the age of the person receiving the gift. Whether you are Christmas shopping online or at the local mall, you must always consider your target audience. Use this Christmas shopping guide to determine what you should and shouldn’t buy come Christmas time.

Age 0-2: Perhaps the easiest people to shop for. Kids this young barely know where they are, let alone what “Christmas” is. At this age, you should introduce children to the idea of Christmas through simple yet useful gifts. Toys that light up. Soft stuffed animals. Tiny socks. These are all common and completely acceptable gifts for infant children.

Age 3-5: At this age, kids will start to play more with toys. More specifically, they will start to determine what toys they like. You can often gauge the child’s interest by seeing their other toys of choice, or seeing how they behave without toys. For girls, this might be the age that they first get into Barbie-type dolls. For boys, they may start to show an interest in cars or action figures. This is a tricky age to buy gifts for, because their preferences are constantly evolving.

Age 6-10: No children look forward to Christmas morning more than this group. During these ages, Christmas becomes New Year’s, Fourth of July, and their birthday all wrapped in one. At this age, it is critical that you know the interests of the child. Boys and girls alike will have a good idea of their hobbies, likes, and dislikes at this age. Many girls will be full-on into dolls and playhouses at this point, even getting into makeup and dress-up. Boys are often into more physical things like sports and action play sets. Video games also enter the equation at this age, and will remain with many kids for the rest of their lives.

Age 11-14: Adolescence. Come middle school, most children tend to “harden up” and gravitate away from childish toys. Girls will get into jewelry, accessories and nice clothes. Boys will get into technology and more into physical activity. And let’s not forget about video games. When buying Christmas gifts for this age group, it is important to consider that they’ve “grown up” and to not rely on childish toys as gifts. Furthermore, the gifts you buy them may steer them more towards the grown-up lifestyle.

Age 15-18: Upon entering high school, “boys and girls” become “men and women,” and their expectations come Christmas time will reflect this. Christmas shopping for these kids should become more about what they need than what they want. Major gifts like cell phones, cars and computers enter the equation at this point. You can also buy some clothes to help prepare boys for manhood. But buy these clothes at your own risk, as they would still prefer video games.

Age 19-22: Ah, college. Christmas shopping is a real challenge for this age. At this age, newly christened “men and women” start to grow up exceedingly fast, and their hobbies and fashion sense will change with them. It is important, then, to ask these kids what they might be in the market for come Christmas time. The lines also begin to get blurry as to what you should buy specifically for girls or boys. A boy may want to trade in the video games for a suit and tie. Likewise, the girl may trade jewelry for more useful things. Not to worry, though. They will get right back into jewelry when they are a little older.

Age 23-30: A cash gift is probably your best bet.

Age 31-beyond: The giftee becomes the gifter. By this age, Christmas becomes more about being with family and getting toys for the newest batch of children. People still love to receive gifts, though. Something nice for the house or apartment is more than acceptable. A piece of art. A kitchen appliance. A new TV. No level-headed adult would pass any of these up. But the greatest gift you can give at this age is quality time and a nice meal with the family. At this age and beyond, Christmas is no longer about receiving gifts. It’s about giving them.

When out Christmas shopping, it is very important to think about the person more than the gift. It’s “the thought that counts,” after all. This phrase will come in handy the first time you buy somebody socks for Christmas. Just say that you wanted to make sure their feet kept warm, and no feelings should be hurt.