Christmas Shopping for Older Kids – The Thrill is Gone

Christmas shopping for older kids – Shopping for Christmas presents for my kids isn’t as much fun as it used to be. I’ve reached the parenting years where Christmas isn’t as easy to buy for as it was when my kids were toddlers. To quote B.B. King… “The Thrill is Gone”.

I write these “parenting milestones” columns once in a while and the urge usually strikes AFTER a parenting issue hits me square in the face. I wish I could spot these in advance. Anyway, the Christmas shopping for older kids presents shopping issue is one of those issues.


Christmas shopping for my kids isn’t as easy as it was when my children were small. Lots of choices and all the toys were affordable and FUN! Every item on the list would be a toy or electronic gadget that provided kids ages 3-10 a whole school break’s worth of sometimes educational, usually inane fun. There were LEGOs to piece together, forts to construct, and puzzles to put together (or solve). Heck, I even miss scrambling to build bikes, wagons, and other “some assembly required” toys at midnight on Christmas Eve.

My son is 16 and my daughter is 14. Now, the Christmas items are “big ticket” items like tablets, X-Boxes, and iPhones and I find myself trying to pass off necessities like socks and winter clothes as dreamy Christmas presents and I’m fearing my strategy will fall flat this (and future) Christmas mornings.

The “big ticket” items are a double-edged sword. Mainly, they take up the whole Christmas budget. Easier shopping, easier wrapping, a lot less planning but virtually zero Christmas morning awe and giggles. I mean, what’s the fun of opening 1 present on Christmas morning in the time it takes to walk to the tree? I sometimes miss those days when the colorful Fisher Price-style toys dominated the living room floor.


I’ve come up with some creative ideas for Christmas shopping for older kids to try to offset the buzz of opening up toys on Christmas. I’ve purchased some recreational and sports camps for my kids and passing them off as gifts. I’m also letting them redecorate (this is sorely needed) their bedrooms and helping out with the design and the purchasing of bedroom knick-knacks. A family trip is in the works too. Something we were going to do anyways but now is creatively being branded as a Christmas present. I’m definitely starting to get more into giving “experiences” as opposed to presents. A well-placed week at a summer camp or a winter break / or spring break camp works well too.

Christmas should be fantastic this year but the buzz of watching excited 6 and 4 year olds tear open presents will be sorely missed. I knew this day was coming but I had no idea how soon. Another parenting milestone has struck me in the face. I’ve always heard “they grow up so fast.” I’m only starting to recognize what they mean.

Hopefully I start getting used to the idea of Christmas shopping for older kids, but every year it gets a little more difficult.

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