How to Avoid a Toy Graveyard This Christmas

05/12/2014 15:28 GMT | Updated 03/02/2015 10:59 GMT

There is pressure on parents to buy everything on a child's letter to Santa, with the average Christmas list in the UK adding up to £880 per child. But with £1billion wasted on unwanted toys over the festive season, how can parents reduce waste and make the best purchasing decisions?

The Space Hopper and the Rubix cube are iconic Christmas gift choices of the past, but today's kids tend to be more interested in robots and electronic devices. In 2013 top most-wanted Christmas gifts included the Furby Boom and the Teksta Robotic Puppy, while this year it's all about Disney's singing Frozen dolls, the interactive baby monster and the Kiddizoom Smart Watch.

Consider these ideas for memorable, educational and long-lasting gifts for children. Here are some gifts that you won't be taking to landfill in six months' time.

Experiences

We work longer hours and often commute from further afield than ever before, so it can be very difficult to spend quality time together. On average fathers spend 35 minutes a day with children. Consider gifts which allow the family to spend time together, instead of alone on their own electronic devices.

Book a mini break to Disneyland (look out for post-Christmas super sales), a day trip to a GoApe centre for monkeying around or a trip to the National History Museum to spend a night with Dippy the Dinosaur. Quality time together with the whole family is surely a better investment than a 'must-have' toy that will capture your child's interest for 10 minutes.

Alternatively consider paying for your child to take classes in something they are passionate about. It could be ballet, carpentry, football or piano lessons; there are plenty of after school classes available across all the country.

Think Charity

Almost three quarters of children and toddlers are exposed to TV before the age of 2, and with the arrival of tablet computers many children are learning to hold a tech device before they hold a pencil. As a consequence, children are exposed to the media and world affairs very early on and can become passionate about causes including wildlife and health. Perhaps your child is concerned about the recent effects of the recent Ebola outbreak, or worries about the protection of rare birds or dolphins. If so consider giving the gift of charity for Christmas.

A donation to the world AIDs or Ebola fund or a membership to the RSBP are great gift ideas. Not only will they encourage your child to fundraise in the future, but will highlight how passionate they really are about these issues. Other ideas include sponsoring an endangered species, which often comes with a free furry toy.

Think Educational

Educational toy suppliers such as the Early Learning Centre and Bright Minds specialise in providing toys that bring together elements of fun and learning. The Early Learning Centre create toys that are essential in the development of children, from toys that help tell the time, to toys that encourage a child to socialise with others.

Developing good reading habits at a young age can improve intelligence, vocabulary and speech. According to a study children who read carry intellectual benefits into their adulthood, so books and magazine subscriptions are a great gift for children at Christmas. From the UK's number one magazine for pre-school children, Peppa Pig to National Geographic Kids, you can find a magazine suitable for children of all ages.

Think Future

It is expected that the next generation of children will pay an average of £3.4million for their first house if the rate of house prices continues to rise at 8.6% a year. This means that your child will need a huge savings account before they can even consider getting on the property ladder. Before you purchase them the latest Playstation for Christmas, what about gifting an ISA account, to be put towards a deposit, university or a car when the time is right?

There are several different types of ISA account offering different saving and investment options. The key benefit is that these savings are tax-efficient.

Whatever you chose to buy your children for Christmas this year, consider the long term benefits. Arguably these gift ideas offer better opportunities to learn, share and save compared to high tech gifts.

Learning, caring and saving can be fun without high tech gifts.