The holiday season is upon us, are you ready? The Christmas season is joyous, but when it comest to children, finding a suitable gift idea for toddlers and preschoolers can also be a source of significant stress and deliberation. Many grandparents or relatives don't know what to give the toddlers who have everything. Adding to that, many millennial parents are now more scrupulous about the types of toys they want their young children to play with.
In 2020, it is not enough to walk down a random Target toy aisle, pick up a colorful toy set and consider your shopping trip complete. Especially if it matters to you that your gift is treasured, it would be upsetting to learn that the gift may be played with for a very short time before collecting dust on the shelf. Even worse, if you discover that the toy you’ve gifted is deemed unsuitable by their parents, and is binned, donated or recycled the minute you walk out the door.
So what are some gift ideas for toddlers that also meet a millennial parent’s standards?
For millennial parents, gifting is all about “cracking their code”. To have good gift ideas for their toddlers, you need to understand their values, beliefs, and parenting approach.
The good news? It’s not hard to learn – all it takes is observing interactions through home visits, paying attention to daily conversations, and having a look at their social media feed.
The following factors are the most important gift considerations for Millennial Parents:
Millennial parents Value Eco-Friendly Features
Dubbed the green generation, millennials are much more sustainably conscious than any previous generation. Thanks to social media, this generation has the platform to increase their awareness and be vocal about pressing environmental issues that they care about.
Does your friend/children relative belong to this eco-conscious parenting tribe? It’s easy to find out from their social media feed or their daily conversation about a myriad of related topics that matter to them, whether it is minimizing single-use plastic, cloth diapering, veganism, sustainable farming, zero waste lifestyle, circular fashion, etc.
If you are gifting to an eco-conscious family, make sure to steer clear from plastic toys and disposable toys (toys that would not last more than one or a few uses). The landfill has plenty of these toys and it would give them more pain than joy to receive more plastics in their household.
The only exception to this is if the plastic toy being gifted has been recycled/upcycled/a hand-me-down.
Instead, these are some eco-friendly gift ideas for toddlers: sustainable wooden toys, fabric toys, toys made of recycled materials such as corkboard or deadstock fabrics. Another great alternative is to give an experience gift .
Millennials Care about Gender Issues
From work life balance to gender pay gap, from #MeToo and electing the first female Vice President of the United States, gender equality is at the forefront of the public and private life for millennial parents. This affects the way they raise their little humans too.
Many millennial parents feel strongly about teaching their kids about gender equality and model this by avoiding color, personality or behavioral stereotypes that can be associated with certain types of toys. This is especially true for parents of little girls. They want their daughters to look up to strong, bold, ambitious modern role models instead of pretty princesses in the traditional fairy tale narratives. They are also well aware that gendered toys can create limiting beliefs and self-identification that stick with their daughters well into adulthood.
Interestingly, feminist parents of little boys approach gender education with a different perspective : they want their toddler boys to restrain from violence and aggression, practice empathy, and to learn that it is OK to show vulnerability.
If you are gifting to children of feminist parents, aim for gender-neutral toys and gender balanced toys. Ask yourself: would I give this toy to a boy (if the gift is for a girl), and vice versa? If the answer is no, keep looking!
If you are searching for gifts ideas for a toddler girl, avoid toys that may trigger impressions of gender objectification and stereotypes. For example: pink things for girls, household chore sets, skinny dolls with impossible body figures or that are way too mature for their age, etc.
If you are looking for gift ideas for a toddler boy, it may be good to avoid toys that promote violence if you feel that the parents don’t want to condone these behaviors: toy guns, warrior games, etc. Some boys like dolls and cooking sets too – check with the parents if you can be the secret Santa to gift them these!
The easiest gift ideas for toddlers are classic toys such as wood blocks, wooden cameras, building sets, books about everyday life, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to find gender balanced toys in the shops, which are full of pink/blue trinkets, Barbie vs Superman divides. Get creative! Visit Etsy, online boutique stores or do a search on A Mighty Girl (for girls in particular), to see a wider range of gender neutral toys and gifts.
Little Bean’s Toy Chest stocks many gender-neutral toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, that will delight both girls and boys alike, and that adults will love and cherish as much as their children do!
Millennials are Altruistic and Cause-driven
Don’t worry if you don’t have a large budget for gifts! For millennial parents, it is far more important to receive a meaningful gift that provides a teachable moment for their children, rather than merely something with a hefty price tag.
Think handmade toys and handmade gifts (including something you make yourself), a photo album, a gift that supports a purpose-driven social enterprise, or a gift that keeps on giving - charity projects that the family or children alone can participate.
(A gift that that gives back from Little Bean's Toy Chest this holiday: when you order a "Merry Christmas Hong Kong" quiet book, we will donate all the proceeds to a charity organization in Vietnam to support local victims of the recent catastrophic floods and land slides).
If you think about children's gift ideas in a wider scope – experiences not simply things – there are plenty more choices to consider. Gift ideas for little nature lovers? Tickets to the zoo to see safari animals. Gift ideas for boys and girls who love art? An annual pass to the local museum (hopefully to be used when things are normal again!) Gift idea for little changemakers? A day at the local forest education program would be a great gift.
You can also check, or even suggest, whether the parents have taken part in a charitable gifting activity like TwoPresents, who sets up the platform to enable gift giving in tandem with donating to a chosen charity.
Millennials are “the Ones” – Uniqueness and Creativity is Key
Millennials themselves are the first “selfie” generation. They care deeply about self-expression and individuality, and they want their children to embrace their uniqueness and special identities as well. If you are in search of a gift to make children feel special, look for gifts that can be personalized.
It can be as simple as having the child’s name monogrammed on the gift (such as the personalized cover on the quiet books from Little Bean’s Toy Chest), or can be as elaborate as picking out a personalized story in which the protagonist’s skin color and hairstyle matches the kid it’s being gifted to! Anything that empowers children to identify themselves as unique and tell their story is a winner.
Where to find personalised gifts for toddlers? Etsy has plenty of personalized gift options. For multi-cultural children, apart from our personalized quiet books that help kids celebrate their milestones and cultural heritage, I also love this bi-lingual personalisable story book by Timtimtom, and the multicultural subscription box by Campfire Crates which empower kids to explore and celebrate their cultural identities.
Millennial Parents Love Clutter-free Gifts
Last but not least, be mindful of the family living space before you consider gift ideas for a toddler.
Reducing toy clutter is a constant, exhausting task for millennial parents especially when work, school and play takes place at home. Many millennial parents appreciate minimalism too, and wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about having unnecessary things in the house.
A large size toy set may inadvertently cause stress to parents if they don’t have the right space to store it – so best to check with them if you decide to get this type of gifts for a toddler. Similarly, look for things that can easily be folded, cleaned up and stored away. A well-treasured book or quiet book is always a safe gift choice as it is never redundant, and it doesn’t take up lots of space!