Quiz: What Do You Do When Your Kids Receive a Gift Card?

Your child just received a gift card (or cash) as a gift. Do you:
A. Take the card/ cash and spend it on toilet paper, nose drops, that DVD you've been wanting, or a birthday present for another child.
B. Let your child pick out whatever he or she wants.
C. Purchase for your child the toy you would want him or her to pick (a puzzle, board game or Legos, not the latest collectible plastic figurine).
I think it can be a real treat for kids to pick out their own gifts in a store. But the truth is, my kids already have SO many toys (it's embarrassing really) that I am pretty picky about what gets added to the collection. But I have found an excellent middle ground that is better, in my opinion, than any of the above options.

This is what I do when someone gives my kid a gift card to Target. I take the gift card, and spend it on whatever I normally buy at Target. Then I go online to Etsy, or a favorite eco-friendly kids' store like Heirloom Wooden ToysMightyNest, or Rosie Hippo, pick out 5 or 10 items in the correct price range, and then let my child select one of those. My kids get the thrill of picking out a toy (and believe me, they are thrilled), and I get the joy of having the new toy be a product I am happy to have in my home.

If we had an awesome brick-and-mortar toy store near us, I would consider taking my kids shopping there instead, but the closest one is 45 minutes away. In addition, for my young children, I think a whole store full of options can be overwhelming.

My previous method was arguing with my children about what they should buy or what I would allow them to buy. That method seemed pretty coercive and not entirely pleasant. Now I get to be controlling without my children feeling deprived! Since I have adopted this new method of letting my children pick a toy pre-screened by mom, I am much more excited when my kids receive a gift card.

It should be noted that my oldest is 5yo. I probably won't be able to get away with this forever.

How do you deal with gift cards your kids receive?

Photo credit: bfishadow


  1. I generally let them pick something but if it is a generic card, we use it and then put the cash in their savings account. I agree with you. My kids really don't need anything.

  2. Who gives a child that young a gift card? Although I'd definitely take it over plastic crap! My son is 2 so I'd definitely pick something for him. I'm interested in what you'll do when your kids are older and start pushing back and wanting more, 'conventional' toys.

    People tend to give gift cards to all of us as a family. We are young and tend to get a lot of grocery store gift cards. Can't complain!

    1. I wonder too. And I do prefer gift cards over plastic crap. I've also been known to return plastic crap if possible (I'll call around with the UPC to see if I can find who sells it). I'm not sure what I'll do when my kids are older. Luckily, it won't matter AS much, developmentally speaking in terms of exposure to toxins. Sometimes even now when my kids get cheap plastic stuff I let them play with it in front of the gift-giver, then within a few weeks, my kids start ignoring it, or it breaks, and then it's off to the donation box. But that won't always be the case. I think the key is to limit exposure. OF course their friends will have toys I hate, but at least I can limit the commercials they see.

  3. I think it is a wonderful choice to let the kids choose from the selection that you have done for them. I'll have to keep that in mind when my little one grows older.
    We have received cash presents on her birthday and other celebrations that we have used to buy the stuff she needed and some to increase our library with books that will be useful for all of the family.


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