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Tip Sheets

Exclusive items, inclusive toys top finds of holiday shopping

Media Contact

Gillian Smith

With Black Friday around the corner, shoppers who are trying to get a jump on gift giving may have concerns about what to buy and whether supply chain shortages will impact their ability to purchase certain items.


Adam Hoffman

Assistant Professor of pPsychology

Adam Hoffman is an assistant professor of psychology and an expert on the development of ethnic-racial and gender identities in youth. He develops interventions to help youth leverage identities to promote positive mental health and well-being.

Hoffman says:

Children are exploring their gender identity at young ages, and, as soon as you begin to buy them gendered toys, it really discourages them from investigating that identity. Gender-neutral toys can allow children to engage and explore their gender identity in ways that feel safe and natural for children—just letting kids be kids.

Watch the labeling. When buying toys, look for more gender-neutral labeling or avoid toys that say, ‘For boys only’ or ‘For girls only.’ Try to look for more gender-neutral fonts and coloring. Look for packaging that shows children of multiple genders.

Think about the kind of toy. Think about toys that they may not typically see or have access to because of their perceived gender. That will be easier when buying toys for girls than for boys, but there are gender-neutral options for dolls, kitchen sets, stuffed animals, and arts and craft toys for boys.

“Avoid gendered toxic toys. Consider avoiding gendered toys that promote toxic ideals or behaviors. For example, toys that focus on appearance like make-up for girls and toys that promote violence like toy guns for boys.

“Talk to your children. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation. Just talking with your children about the fact that all toys can truly be for all children can be an important moment for your child to learn about gender and consider their own gender identity.”

Ori Heffetz

professor of applied economics at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business

Ori Heffetz, professor of applied economics at Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, is an expert on consumption and studies the psychological, social and cultural aspects of economic behavior. 

Heffetz says:

“Holiday shopping is often much about the showing off, the public display, the social status. It’s not enough to buy that new coveted gift, toy or gadget — they have to be socially visible. We witness these social phenomena every year, of course. But this year, shortages are going to turbocharge them.

“Forget about early holiday shopping to avoid the price increases or the possible delays – this year it’s early shopping to secure the things that nobody else on the block will have. In some sense, many of us secretly wish every year for that thing we have just purchased to magically disappear from the shelves, to run out, so we’d be special, so not everybody would buy it too. Well, this year, our secret dream may come true: by shopping early, we may be able to get things nobody else could get.”

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