Gifting Guide (Part 1)

Recently, it seems as if every other post on my feed is a gift guide or sale alert! While I appreciate the ease of having options and deals all put together in one place for me, as so often happens on social media, I just don’t feel like it applies to us.

I always appreciate the questions from friends and family around holidays and birthdays regarding what to get the kids, and Y specifically. I will admit, it can get overwhelming. There is a lot to consider, both on Y’s end and for our friends and family as well. Gifts he’d prefer could be harder to locate, require ordering well in advance, or may not really seem like a gift in the traditional sense (of course this is a wonderful issue to have and I’m so grateful for the love and generosity of our circle!). If you find yourself in a similar situation, whether as someone looking to purchase a gift or someone looking for ideas to share with family, I’ve put together a few tips and ideas in an attempt to make gifting as stress-free and appropriate as possible! These are all aspects I take into consideration and I believe can be applied fairly generally. I hope this provides clarity and is insightful and helps to make this season a little less stressful!

5 Things To Keep In Mind:

Age / Popularity:
Many websites will highlight the best gifts for a certain age group or the hottest and most sought after toys of the year. While I appreciate the guidance this provides, it isn’t always applicable to Y. His interests remain fairly consistent and don’t necessarily change with the latest movie or series. The age range advertised does not reflect a wide developmental spectrum and is better understood as appropriate for children who are neurotypical and of that age. A gift labelled for a seven-year-old may not be accessible for a variety of reasons. Of course, this is all very personal and if the family or the recipient think it may work, then by all means, go for it!

Safety Considerations:
Please ask if there are any safety concerns that should be taken into consideration. You may see an item that you think is perfect, but if the recipient is currently in a stage where they are mouthing things / bringing everything to their mouth, for instance, smaller toys or things with batteries or magnets could pose a serious, elevated risk.

How You Wrap The Gift:
Accessibility doesn’t apply solely to the gift that you choose! I’ll admit, I love seeing all the gifts wrapped up in coordinating wrapping paper, piled lovingly, waiting to be excitedly torn into! For years I thought Y would love the act of ripping off the wrapping paper, with all it’s sensory and tactile fun! That wasn’t the case, and if anything, it just caused a lot of frustration. We’d help by ripping a little corner to help him start off and then guiding him to do the rest, but by the time he had removed a sufficient amount, he was no longer interested and re-directing him back to the actual gift could be difficult. The past few years, I’ve simply put his gift into gift bags with very little tissue paper or distractions and it has made all the difference! He happily pulls out each item and it’s less frustrating! Consider the developmental ability of the recipient and how they’re best able to access the gift in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable to them!

On that note, it’s so important to do what you can to make the experience memorable and enjoyable for the recipient. I’ll be the first to say that I love seeing reactions when gifts are being opened! The excitement is tangible and I can’t help but explain what it is, or point out fun features, and of course, hope that the reaction received is a favourable one that reflects my anticipation. Nothing compares to seeing Y light up, knowing that he feels seen and heard, that we gave him something he truly loves or enjoys. The way that he shows this is not always what others may expect. One year he ran to his room with the first item he opened, before opening any other gifts, and went to play right away! Another year, he matched the items while still in their boxes (matching is something he absolutely loves to do!) and didn’t want us to open them yet, as he smiled and concentrated on lining up the boxes. Of course, there have also been times he’s put down the item and has gone back to playing with whatever he was holding before. Giving him the space to experience and explore what he’s been given is so important and I always keep in mind that the respect shown to him in that moment is more important than the gift or our own need for acknowledgment. 

Consider the Atmosphere / Environment:
Finally, building off of the previous point, as much as I love to see the reactions of the recipient, sometimes it’s just not the best option. Birthday or holiday parties can be a very overwhelming sensory experience. Between the crowd, multiple conversations taking place, lights, sounds, music, people walking around / moving from one area to another, smells of food and perfume etc., it’s A LOT. Having to be the center of attention, with everyone watching, as gifts are opened can just be too much. Taking the gift home or going to a quiet space alone to open it may be more meaningful and appropriate for the recipient. This doesn’t reflect any selfish, “anti-social,” or negative sentiment at all, it simply is what is best for the individual and if that is the case, respecting it and everything I’ve mentioned in the points above, is even greater than any physical gift!

I’ll be sharing Part 2 shortly, with gift ideas that are accessible in terms of developmental considerations as well as at a variety of price points! If you don’t want to miss it, make sure to subscribe to the blog or follow along at @ItsyBitsyBalebusta!

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