10 Easy Gifts to Give

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Do you have a lot of grandkids on your gift list? It can be hard to keep track of their sizes, interests and favorite things, especially if you do not get to see them often.

What they liked last year may be old hat this year.

Instead of guessing (or forking over cash), try these ideas for making gift giving easier this season.

“I’ve converted to giving gift certificates,” said Sonja Vigneux, owner of Errand Angels in Liverpool. “I try to do them for an experience.”

Select an event the entire family can do together and choose an amount large enough to cover admission for the family. It’s not likely your 7-year-old grandson is going to drive himself there. Movie tickets, museum admission or event tickets are all good examples, but make sure it’s for a venue near where they live.

Most children are inundated with stuff and their parents are tired of it. Linda Ruckdeschel, owner of The Bridal Connection, an events business in Syracuse, said that her sister set a rule that gifts for her children should be usable or edible.

“You could give gift cards to restaurants or GrubHub,” Ruckdeschel said. “Kids love that. Ask the parents where the kids like to go eat.”

Again, ensure that the gift card applies to where they live and that the gift card will cover the tab. Most restaurants list their menus and prices online.

Roy Thornton, owner of Royal Errands Service in Syracuse, suggested “a gift card for PlayStation or whatever system they have so they can pick out some games.”

It can be difficult to know what games they already have. Plus, their parents will have to oversee their selection. This ensures you don’t select something inappropriate or too babyish — the cardinal sin when buying kids gifts.

If you’re set on buying toys, “look at toys that they can play with outside, like sleds,” Thornton said.

You could pack a sled with snow tools like a snowman making kit, spray chalk (it works for sidewalks and snow), snow fort mold and fun new hats for the gang. A group gift like this fosters togetherness with children as they can play with them at once.

“There are a lot of board games they can play together,” Thornton added.

The boxes indicate the age for which they’re intended, which can help you choose appropriate games. However, check with the parents first so you don’t buy one they already have.

Not A Good Idea

What not to give your grandchildren

Pets. Even if you have fully vetted the idea with your adult children, the holiday season is a rough time to bring most types of pets into a noisy, busy household. Instead, wrap up a stuffed animal symbolizing the pet and include a gift card for a pet store for supplies and a note explaining that after the holidays, you’ll help them get their pet.

Heirlooms (especially if they’re young children). Giving a 5-year-old an heirloom ceramic doll she cannot play with isn’t much fun for her. Consider what your grandchild would rather do: admire a doll on a shelf or play with a doll.

Intangible items (especially if they’re young). As with the “future pet” gift, children want to open a physical object. A note saying you’ll take them somewhere this summer should have something physical is with it.

Gag gifts. Unless they’re teenagers, gag gifts don’t go over well. And even teens have their limits.

Clothing. Don’t give things like socks unless they have a fun novelty print. It’s likely your grandchildren have plenty of socks unless their family is facing extremely hard times. The exceptions about giving clothing are preteens and teens; they like expressing their own style but have limited funds. A gift card to a popular store or Amazon is the safest bet, as style and sizes change by the minute.

Gifts they can’t use now. It sounds smart to give children tools they’ll use for life, but young children want to play with things this minute. So wait to give that socket set for when he’s 16, not when he’s 6, unless he can actually use it now.

Things trending six months ago. By now, the fad has already passed. Ask your adult children if the grandchild still wants that thing he talked about last summer.