Christmas Wishlists – are you for or against?

November 14, 2015 Published by

Lucy Gill and Amanda Gummer agree on most things but when it comes to Christmas wishlists they have very different views. Here’s what they have to say. Join in the discussion on our Facebook page.

See our compromise: sign up to receive our Alternative Wishlist:

Are they a genius invention to help your friends and family choose great gifts or an evil modern tool that discourages adults from trying to get to know your child and prevents your child from learning how to be grateful for any gift they receive. You decide…

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:
For me wishlists are a genius invention. They make sure that I can save my family and friends from the effort of guessing what my children might like whist still giving them total freedom to choose if they want.


Wishlists discourage adults from trying to get to know your child and thinking about the gifts they think the child would like. Adults may have a particular interest or hobby that they would enjoy sharing with a child and the wishlist makes it all about the child and removes any personal element from the giver. This also takes some of the emotion out of the gift and makes it less likely that the child will remember who it’s from.

Wishlist example vs Alternative wishlist by the Good Toy Guide

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

 I see where you’re coming from but I also receive wishlists from other people for their children and they really help me to understand what my nieces/nephews/godchildren are into. Realistically some of these children I just don’t see that often and seeing a list of different things on a wishlists in some ways helps me know them.

As a parent taking the time to put a wishlist together also means you can ensure your child gets a balanced set of presents, encouraging the Balanced Play Diet we always talk about the Fundamentally Children – some active, some learning, some craft, some with their favourite character etc. As well as avoiding getting duplications.


Of course it’s wasteful for children to get 6 of one present and a load of stuff that’s too old/young for them and just sits in a cupboard. But, rather than giving family and friends a wishlist, I’d prefer they checked out review sites such as the Good Toy Guide or the gift guides we produce and chose their own gift. I think all gift-givers recognise that if they buy a child something that is exactly the same as the gift they receive from someone else, it can be returned.

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

Making a Christmas wishlist also helps me to take time to stand back and think about my child as a person: what really are their likes/dislikes, what sorts of things might they be getting into soon (my children’s wishlists are primarily driven by me, not a list of things they’ve asked me to include – although a few things I really know they are dying to get do go on there, for course).


For me, there is a big difference between a list that a parent has circulated to family who don’t see/know the child very well to help them out and a list that the child has helped compile that goes to everyone. The first option has some use and may be helpful for time-poor relatives whose main concern is to get something that the parent will approve of and the child will enjoy. Although in today’s overly consumerist society, I’d suggest that setting up a savings account or contributing towards a sport or hobby would be a more meaningful gift.

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

Having a wishlist helps me as a time-poor parent too. I fill it up all year round as things occur to me which means Christmas is less scary when it suddenly comes around! I already have some ideas to refer to – for me as well as friends and family.


Planning for Christmas can be stressful and getting ideas during the year and making notes of things the children enjoy, are into can help with the present buying, but it shouldn’t all fall to parents to do this. Much better that the family friends and relatives do that when they see them during the year – this helps build the relationship. Surely a gift is much more meaningful if it’s related to a conversation or shared experience from when the child last saw Aunty Sue.

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

I do think it also depends how you use wishlists. I tend to put quite a few specific toys on there but with the tool I use you can also add comments like “he’s into dressing up and superheroes but only has the Spiderman costume so far”, “he’s now in age x clothes which are always useful” etc. and of course I always make sure there is a range of prices on there so I’m not suggesting friends and relatives fork out for huge gifts.


Again, I think there’s a difference between a bit of general guidance from parents for gift-givers who ask and a product specific wishlist. If you are going to use them then in my view the more general the better.

Wishlists also tend to encourage people to buy present just from one big retailer, not necessarily at the best price (unlike the Good Toy Guide where we link you to the lowest price available – thanks to Idealo) and taking shoppers away from the small retailers. Don’t forget high street Toy shops, like those we’ve championed through our Retailer of the Month scheme can be extremely useful in helping you choose a present – they are really experienced and can come up with ideas that you may never have thought of otherwise.

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

In the end of course, one of the biggest incentives is that when my children open their presents typically I’m confident they will like them and there is no embarrassing moment in front of family and friends when they are clearly unimpressed!


This is where I really disagree with Lucy. Children need to learn to be grateful for any presents and if they don’t occasionally get that misfitting jumper or babyish toy that they grew out of 3 years ago, they will be missing out on important lessons around gratitude and consideration and respect. Aren’t we sick of children who think the world revolves around them and that their parents exist to meet their every demand? Let’s help teach our children some of those softer skills that enable them to grow up to be decent, considerate, kind adults.

Lucy Gill headshotLucy:

Ok, I can’t argue with that Amanda! It won’t stop me using wishlists myself but they will certainly come with the caveat that friends/relatives should not feel obliged to buy my children anything and certainly not feel constrained to the list. If it’s useful to them then great, if not they can just ignore it and my children can get the benefit of both!

In case you want a middle ground approach, Amanda and Lucy have put their heads together and come up with an alternative wishlist concept – one that gives some insight into what a child wants without giving too many specifics.

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Alternative wishlist by the Good Toy Guide

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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