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Planning Retirement Online

Buying Presents

We all spoil our grandchildren and like to buy them little treats every now and again. Then, of course, when it comes to birthdays and Christmas we want to get them something nice. But what do we buy them? It's an ongoing problem - sometimes inspiration strikes and sometimes it doesn't. So we're having a look on this page of the Guide at where you might get ideas from.

Before we do, it's worth considering that none of us can buy love or that bond that we're looking for (see the Bonding page of this Guide). Some of us are tempted to try it sometimes and even more so when we think that we need to buy something bigger and better than the other grandparents. We should forget that idea. Yes, sometimes our grandchildren want something electronic and expensive but, very often and especially when they're young, it's something small but personal that is very often better. Alternatively, if they do want something big, why not share the present with their parents or the other set of grandparents?

Guide to Grandparenting links

It's always a good idea to consult with the parents before buying presents for grandchildren. They're more likely to know what they really want and, of course, you don't want to buy the same thing! Make sure that your present matches their age-range and abilities and think about their hobbies, interests and so on to help you make the right choice. Grandchildren will appreciate the thought that goes into a present that helps with a hobby or an interest.

So, bearing all that in mind, you might get some good ideas from the following sources.

The Laterlife Guide to Buying Presents has a page entitled 'Buying for Young Children'. There are links to a number of websites and ideas for shops to visit. Elsewhere on Laterlife there is a page on Special Days that you can organise for someone. These are likely to appeal to older grandchildren so if yours are teenagers, then take a look. Of course, a day out doesn't have to be something completely out of the ordinary and trips to zoos, theme parks and so on are always popular.

On the Bonding page of this Guide, we mentioned that reading to children is an excellent way to bond with them. The logical extension of this is to buy them books sometimes in order to encourage them to read. So take a look at or go to your local bookshop and buy them some books that you think will interest them.

Something slightly different but that will still encourage them to read is to pay for a subscription to First News, a weekly children's newspaper. It will keep them informed of the world around them and hopefully help them to make reading a hobby.

There is another website called that has an excellent section for the under 18s, which includes some presents for quite young children. The ideas cover days out, gifts connected with hobbies, sporting presents, personalised posters and calendars and lots of other ideas.

For something completely different, go to and create your own newspaper. Your grandchildren can be headline news and you can upload photos into it, too.

Of course, don't forget the traditional sources of presents - toyshops. Hamleys is probably the most famous, so have a look at what they have to offer on their website. For younger children, Mothercare is excellent, with a wide selection of gifts for children up to about five years old. Similarly the Early Learning Centre has ideas for presents for young children ranging across outdoor toys, action figures and playsets, dolls and dolls' houses, art and creativity, music, puzzles and games.

We enjoy buying presents for our grandchildren and, like any other presents that we buy, we hope that they will be liked and appreciated. Grandchildren won't always show that appreciation but, if we get it right, we'll receive it. Presents don't have to cost a fortune but it does help if they are well thought-out and applicable to the child. If they don't match their interests, age and abilities they will not be appreciated, so give them some consideration before you spend your money.

In the Bonding page to this Guide, we talk about bonds being created by shared experiences, so any present that gives the opportunity for a shared experience is going to be good. It might be a day out with them, something that you can play with them or something that you can read with them. It's worth thinking about these things before you buy for grandchildren so that your present will be liked and appreciated.

Now read the rest of this guide by clicking on the links in the box. If you have any grandparenting experiences that you would like to share, please do so through the feedback form.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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