For many people this is their favourite time of year. And they aren’t wrong: it’s time to get together with family and friends, enjoy the company of your loved ones and enjoy the happy faces of the little ones as they open their presents.

Too many presents

We give and receive more presents than at any other time of year and, according to the Consumer Trends at Christmas survey by TNS for E-bay, the amount we spend has risen in four consecutive Christmases. We spend more and buy more presents and, of course, most of these go to the smallest members of the household, who get an average of 8 gifts a year. This figure might go unnoticed, but for several years now experts have been warning us about the syndrome of children who get too many presents. The surfeit of presents given to children at this time of year can have a negative effect on them: losing any sense of the value of effort, feeling no need to be generous and distorting the meaning of thrift. So what’s the right number of presents? 4, no more and no less.

The four-present rule

This theory basically opts for giving them small items they’re really going to use and that contribute to their development. The key is to choose presents in line with these principles:

  • A present they can wear, either clothing, footwear or other accessories.
  • Something related to reading, which could be a printed book, an e-book or an e-book reader.
  • Something they really want, to fulfil their emotional needs.
  • An item of any kind that they really need, which is useful in their everyday life, like an accessory for their favourite sport or some coloured pencils.

That’s the theory – what about the practice? The aim is for the child getting the present to be pleased when they open it, but above all for them to like it and use it. So, what do I have to do to get it right?

Choosing the perfect present

The perfect gift won’t be the piece of clothing we like best, or the bestseller of the moment, or even the first toy you see in the shop that appears in the kid’s Christmas present list. To choose a present that will grab their attention requires thought, bearing these two aspects in mind:

  • Their tastes and preferences. It’s time to take a pencil and paper, think a bit and write down what their favourite characters are, what their favourite colour is, what they most like doing and anything that occurs to you that they really like. Like this you’ll make sure the kids don’t just like the present but also that they actually use it.
  • The child’s age in choosing a suitable present. Every children’s item is designed for a particular age range, and this determines both safety features and functions. That’s why it’s advisable when choosing a present to make sure it’s right for their age. If not, you run the risk that they won’t really appreciate it because they can’t use all its functions or, even worse, it might pose a risk to their health.

Playing with them, the best present

Presents are important in a child’s life. The magic and joy of receiving presents are absolutely irreplaceable. But the best present is certainly the time you spend playing with them. According to the TriNa study of family fun conducted in 2015, 63% of Spanish children say they’d like to spend more time with their parents.

As regards the importance of play, you mustn’t forget that this is how children learn to win and lose, to deal with frustration; it helps them to develop language and thought, to live in society; it aids their emotional development, strengthens emotional ties and a long list of other incalculable benefits.

To sum up, if play offers so many benefits and over half of kids ask to spend more time with their families, the answer to “How do I find the perfect present?” is really a simple question: “What shall we play, kids?”