Coolest wish list toys! Holiday wish list alert! Tech toys kids want! Headlines are hollering this year, whipping parents and gift-givers into a frenzy with the goal of pleasing children during the holiday gift-giving season. The National Retail Federation predicts that overall holiday spending will top $630 billion this year, up nearly 4% over last year. This makes sense in households with children, given:
Lower gas prices according to AA, thus higher household disposable income
The multitude of digital and high-tech-meets tactile toys (think Skylanders, Disney Infinity, or Star Wars/Sphero BB-8 robot) available this year, at higher price points than traditional toys
The holiday gift guides for childern have two consistent themes: 1. Go with anything Star Wars, and/or 2) buy something high-tech (virtual reality, cameras, or tablets). The browsing and list-making process itself has become tech-saturated. The Toys ‘R Us catalog includes codes that unlock virtual games and 3D augmented reality views of the products. Kids can create wish lists using Amazon or Target’s Wish List app.
All of this sounds very exciting. Is it, however, what kids are asking for, or what we as adults are projecting onto their desires? Our 2015 Holiday Wish List survey is in, showing that kids’ desires might be simpler than we think. Click here to download the Holiday Wish List infographic.
Sure, kids are asking for Star Wars—as long as they’re Lego sets. Robots and talking dolls? Not so much. That’s not to say that they won’t love the more sophisticated toys that they receive this year. The key to pleasing the recipient is to fit with their favorite play patterns, be it role playing with dolls or action figures, building, or game play. Most of all, they’d really like to pick out their own presents, so consider a gift card. This commercial for IKEA underscores kids’ desires for simple pleasures at the holidays (spoiler alert: Grab a tissue).
We also asked kids about their charitable giving over the holiday season. Most are participating in some way, primarily by donating toys/gifts, food, or clothing. Just for fun, we asked them whether they’d rather give all of their holiday gifts this year to charity, or forego their electronics and media for a month. Kids in 1st-4th grades overwhelmingly want to keep the gifts and give up the media, as do the better part of tweens in 5th-8th grades. Teens disagree; the majority would gladly give up the holiday haul in order to hang on to their sources of connectedness, information, and entertainment.
So make those lists and check them twice. But do it knowing that youth pleasures are simple and eternal, even as the toys we build and buy for them grow more complex.
Happy Holidays from YouthBeat!