If you’ve grabbed a name tag off an Angel Tree or similar program at the mall or your church and not sure where to go from there, these tips might help to choose the perfect gift.
Depending on the organization, you might only have a few key points to do your Angel Tree recipient’s shopping by. Usually, you’re only given the child’s gender,age, and clothing size. You’re not given any clue to the child’s personality – his or her likes,interests, or even actual needs. If you’ve ever had to buy a gift for a child you don’t know well, you know how tricky this can be. Here’s some suggestions on how to make your selections the most appropriate & meaningful.
1. Be Thoughtful, Not Dutiful
There are a lot of people who take an Angel Tree name because they get swept up in the emotion of imagining a poor child with nothing to open on Christmas morning. I wouldn’t mention this if I hadn’t seen it before. Some people buy gifts thinking that anything that child gets is better than nothing. Remember that the child receiving the gifts is a real person with feelings. It’s horrible to open gifts that are easily recognized as – well….crap. It isn’t that the people are ungrateful for the gesture. It’s just that they have actual feelings and getting crap makes people feel like crap, or even that they are crap.
Don’t let a sense of duty and guilt be your reason for taking that name in the first place. Be mindful of the child at the receiving end.
2. Think Practical
I know the guidelines usually say to buy a complete outfit and a toy but sometimes there are other things low income children really need. Maybe put together a stocking with stocking stuffers with kid-friendly soap,toiletries,socks, and little goodies. Think about things that food stamps can’t buy or things that food banks might have in short supply. School supplies would be great,too.
If you’re buying a toy, avoid battery operated things.
Clothing should be something that’s every day casual and appropriate to your region’s season.
Also, try to stay away from novelty characters for both toys or clothing (unless you’re lucky enough to know that the child has a favorite character.Then obviously, go for it!) ,or sayings on clothing. This just isn’t about the child not being a fan of those things. Some characters or sayings might not reflect that family’s personal ethics or beliefs.
3. Think Outside The Gender Box
Try to avoid the premise that “dolls are for girls, trucks are for boys” but also don’t reverse it and get something for a girl that is stereotypical to a boy and vice versa . This is one reason personal details on those Angel Tree tags are especially helpful, even if it’s just knowing what the kid’s favorite color is.
Non-gender specific toy ideas: playdoh, legos or other building toys, games, non-messy arts and crafts supplies,puzzles, toy animals, science kits, puppets, and anything that inspires imaginative play.
4. Books Are Always A Good Idea!
You really can’t go wrong with books. Just be sure to choose books that are age appropriate and steer clear of books with religious themes or those books based on movies or cartoons.
I think those are the basics. If your family has ever received gifts from an Angel Tree or similar program, please feel free to give your input and suggestions!