Decided to put together a buying guide for anyone scrambling for Christmas gift ideas, but coming up short. This entry is broken down into gift ideas for five different age groups, for easy reference. Hope this helps. Has served me well in the past.
Stuffed Animals. Works like a charm, keeping in mind the gender of the child and his or her temperament. I would avoid any stuffed animal with glass eyes or anything of the like that has pieces or accessories they can detach and then eat, or hurt themselves with. Aside from that disclaimer, the softer the better. And, sometimes, the bigger the better.
Sound Books. You know these; everyone's had at least one of these books in their lives. These are the books with the electronic sound board in the right hand side. An easy way to go is to pick the one with the most popular animated film of the year as the story line. Educational, Mickey Mouse sounds books are gender neutral, and work really well, too.
Building toys: Legos, Tinker Toys, K'Nex, Connectagons, etc. I would recommend waiting until buying these awesome toys for kiddos that are at least 5 years old. Reason being, they can be more on the expensive side (if you get a lot of them) and at 5-10, children are much more likely to engage and appreciate this kind of playtime activity. And I wouldn't get too caught up in the idea that these kinds of toys are just for boys. Most retailers sell gender specific AND gender neutral building block toys. So sky's the limit here.
The Mall. I find this the hardest age group to buy for. If you already have an idea here, great. But a majority of the time, what a teen/pre-teen really wants can be found within the confines of any local mall. Whether it be clothes, makeup, toys, electronic accessories (headphones, phone cases or bedazzlers and the like), temporary tattoos.. whatever. If you have the time and ability, make an afternoon of it. Give them a budget and take them to the mall. If you do not (understandable), then cash can be given to give their parents.
Theater gift cards. Of course I would recommend running this idea by the parents before making this purchase. But we have now gotten into the 'I can drive myself' age group. If the parents approve, I have never met a teenager that wasn't thankful to have free movie tickets to take a date or friend (or group of friends) to. Bonus points if you get the card that works at the local mall's theater.
iTunes/Google Play gift cards. I know, I know. Another gift card idea. Seemingly a cop out, yeah? I don't think so. Assume you know what your 17-year-old niece or nephew is really into? Yeah, me either. No, I think going the route of a gift card for the 16-20 year old crowd is the safest and smartest way to go, especially over money. I don't want to be responsible for hanging cash to this age group. I'd much rather know that they can only simply go to the movies at the mall, or buy an album or a few cool apps on their phone or their iPad.
Cash. Easiest way to go here, though obviously not the most creative. But who in the world over the age of 21 doesn't appreciate getting some extra money, to do with whatever they please?
Vice gifts. These are the gifts that you're friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers might not splurge on for themselves, or that you simply know they would enjoy, even if the gift might be 'bad' for them. Everyone has a 'vice' yeah?
Alcohol leads the pack here. A nice bottle of wine. A highly touted bottle of liquor. Even causal drinkers (like myself) would appreciate that. Then you have gourmet chocolates, cigars, or gift cards (preferably for 2) to a fancy or offbeat eatery you have been trying to recruit others to.