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Be a better gift-giver by giving safer and more appropriate gifts using these tips.

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When it comes to gift-giving, you likely put thought into what type of gift would make a recipient happy. But do you give much thought to making sure the gifts you give won’t cause harm? While most people know to avoid gifts with small parts for very young children because they can be a choking hazard, you may not know what other types of gifts may be dangerous or inappropriate, not only for children but for adults as well.

Here are some tips for selecting safe and appropriate gifts for all ages:

    • Check the age range. This will indicate what age the product is intended for. This may mean that the gift has small parts, sharp edges or something else that could be harmful to children younger than the low end of the age range. Or it may just mean that the toy will be too complicated for a younger child to use, which can be frustrating.
    • Determine if the toy poses a choking hazard. If you’re buying a toy for a child under three and there is no age range on it, make sure there are no parts that can fit inside a toilet paper roll – this will give you an idea of whether it is a choking hazard.
    • Inspect toys carefully. Look for sharp or pointy edges, long strings or cords (that can become a strangulation hazard), easy access to batteries (swallowing button batteries is extremely dangerous), poor quality craftsmanship or anything that may pose a danger if the toy is thrown or breaks.
    • Look for an ASTM label. This shows that a product has met the American Society for Testing and Materials safety standards.
    • Know your recipient. Of course, most safety advice for gift-giving applies to toys for kids but there are times when you need to be careful about what you gift to teens, adults and seniors as well. For example:
        • If you’re not sure if someone has a problem with alcohol, don’t show up with a bottle of wine or whisky.
        • Don’t gift food or drinks that the recipient may not be able to consume due to a health condition.
        • Think about what may be dangerous for a senior. Long nightgowns may be a tripping hazard. Candles can be a fire danger. Exercise equipment may not be suitable for their current physical condition.
        • Don’t promote sedentary activities. If a person sits all day (for work, school or play), consider not giving a gift that makes them sit more. Instead, gift something that encourages active movement.

In addition to considering the safety of any gift you plan to give, also think about whether the gift is appropriate. Sure, not every gift that’s given will be well-received or loved, but there are some ways to better ensure your good intentions don’t cause a burden. That means that as a general rule of thumb you shouldn’t give someone something they should choose or plan themselves—like pets or travel plans, for starters.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 12, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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