Two-thirds of kids happy just receiving cash or gift cards for Christmas

LONDON — Still looking for those last-minute Christmas gifts? If you’re shopping for a child and simply don’t know what to get them this year, don’t worry, we have you covered! A new survey is revealing what’s really at the top of children’s Christmas lists in 2022.

A poll of 1,000 children and parents in the United Kingdom finds 65 percent of kids would be happy receiving money instead of physical presents. This includes digital currency or gift cards that they can spend how they want. One in four say they actually prefer it.

An arts and crafts set, tablets, games consoles, and sleepwear also made the top 20 list of Christmas presents. Researchers also found that 32 percent of parents plan to give their child money this year, though only 49 percent will opt for real cash.

“With the range of digital options out there, the use of cash in our day-to-day lives is dropping and that means we need to continually evolve how we engage and manage money with our children,” says Will Carmichael, CEO of NatWest Rooster Money, which commissioned the study, in a statement.

Digital forms of currency are taking on a crucial and growing role, with many parents saying these are not only easier to track but can give kids more independence. We can’t predict how the format of money will continue to evolve in the future – so the point here is around choice and giving people options depending on their age and context,” Carmichael continues.

“The best thing we can do is have open conversations and engage with our kids from early on, to help them grow into healthy spenders, earners and savers.”

‘Real’ gifts still mean something special

The study also found a traditional 40 percent of parents still prefer to give physical gifts to their kids at Christmas. Of these, 56 percent think tangible gifts their kids can hold in their hands feel more special, and 29 percent believe their children understand the value of physical gifts more.

Another one in five go a step further to say physical gifts provide their kids with a learning opportunity, and 47 percent think they feel more personal. Just 12 percent of parents favor digital varieties, but 36 percent recognize the benefits of both.

Of those, 41 percent think digital presents give their kids more independence, and 28 percent see going digital as a more sustainable, less wasteful gifting option.

It also emerged that of the parents planning to give their child money this Christmas, four in 10 will gift them a physical gift card or voucher, and 22 percent will write them a check. A more unconventional 13 percent plan to give their child their gift in a gaming currency, such as Robux or Minecoins, and eight percent will drop some cryptocurrency into their child’s e-wallet.

Can Christmas help kids learn about saving money?

Physical or virtual, Christmas 2022 won’t come cheap, with parents planning to spend an average of $302 fulfilling their child’s Christmas wish list. In the study, carried out by OnePoll, 37 percent of parents have used Christmas as an opportunity to teach their kids about money in the past.

“We’re seeing an intriguing shift in how young people engage with and learn about money,” says Iona Bain, a personal finance expert and spokesperson for Natwest Rooster Money.

“This is especially true of Gen Alpha, who are growing up with so many new, digital finance tools that previous generations never had access to – from saving apps and spending cards to digital currencies. While cash still proves popular with kids, Robux and other gaming currencies are now more in demand than gift cards,” Bain continues.

“And, as kids get older they’re shifting towards things like bank transfer as their preferred means of receiving money, as they get more financially confident. It’s understandable that, for many parents, physical cash still plays a vital role at Christmas. But what’s intriguing about their cash sensibilities is that there’s also a suggestion of digital overwhelm.”

“Parents want to give their children key life skills around money, and now in 2022, this means embracing both physical and digital financial tools when helping them get to grips with it all.”

The Official 2022 Christmas List – According To Kids:

  1. Clothing, shoes or accessories
  2. Money (either as cash, cheque, bank transfer etc.)
  3. Books
  4. A games console
  5. Toys
  6. Tech items (iPad, Fitbit, Apple watch, laptop etc.)
  7. Arts and crafts equipment
  8. Smartphone
  9. Sleepwear
  10. Lego or other creative building toys
  11. Gaming currencies
  12. A gift card
  13. Cuddly toys
  14. Board or card games
  15. Make-up/ beauty products
  16. Fitness/ sporting equipment or kit
  17. Bicycle, scooter or skateboard
  18. Costumes/dressing up stuff
  19. Subscriptions (Spotify, Netflix etc.)
  20. Baking toys/equipment

72Point writer Grant Bailey contributed to this report.