Gifts to keep kids engaged


Store aisles are filled this time of year with every must-have gift retailers can advertise. Children often plead and beg for the hottest toys weeks ahead of the holidays, hoping to find their requests wrapped up come the big day.

But once the gift wrap is torn away and kids have played with their presents for a day, some already grow bored with their new belongings and cast them aside. Certain toys are not engaging enough to warrant extended periods of play – no matter what the advertisements boast.

No gift-giver wants to spend money on a present only to have it collecting dust days later. With that said, employing these strategies can help anyone select a gift that will continue to inspire and excite children long after the holiday season has come and gone.

· Don’t believe the hype. It’s easy to fall hook, line and sinker for ultra-popular trendy gifts. While such gifts may have popular appeal, that does not mean they’re a perfect fit for your child. When shopping for youngsters come the holiday season, choose a gift because your child will truly enjoy it and not because it’s the trendy item of the year.

· Focus on the play factor. Too often shoppers get caught up in toys’ appearances. Instead, think about how the toys will work with imaginative play. The more a child can envision himself doing with a particular toy, the more likely he or she will exhibit a continued interest in that toy.

· Look for minimal bells and whistles. Kids often find toys that leave more room for imagination more interesting than toys that are loaded with gadgets. Children prefer to make up their own stories and create modes of play that are more about what they like rather than the “right” way to play or win.

· Choose gifts that grow. Shoppers want to select gifts that are age-appropriate for children so they will be safe during play time. But shoppers also should look for toys and activities that can be modified and grow with the child as he or she ages. A game that gets progressively harder through levels or a toy set that can be supplemented as kids grow older may make good gifts. Musical instruments also can grow with a child, as the instruments become easier to master with practice.

· Figure out the child’s interests. Toys that cater specifically to a child’s interests will be the most warmly received. It may take going the extra mile to find a gift that matches a child’s interest rather than picking up the first trendy gift you see, but the results will be well worth it. GG14B635

CAPTION: Select gifts that will have a longer shelf life, guaranteeing more opportunities for play.