TWO thirds of children aged between eight and 16 would prefer money to a present for Christmas.
This rises to 85% among 14-16 year-olds, according to a survey by PKTMNY, the pocket money website.
I can understand youngsters preferring cash in hand, as long there is a bundle of presents to unwrap as well. If there isn’t, Christmas morning is likely to be a disappointment.
This was my philosophy in that bygone age when Scrooge was a lad and I was still in short trousers.
Those were the days when children had a pillowcase at the end of the bed, not a stocking. A stocking was useless. It was never big enough to hold games and Dandy and Beano annuals and toy soldiers and a football plus an orange and a new penny. If you had used a stocking all you would have got would be the orange and a new penny.
That was when times were hard and horizons limited by black and white BBC television. These days, expectations have been raised by full-colour commercialism aimed directly at children. So it is important to instil a sense of realism into them.
Making a list is good, particularly when dropping hints that certain longed for items might not be possible. Especially to a 14-year-old lad.
“I don’t think Santa would be able to get Natasha Bedingfield down the chimney.”
I asked my grandsons what they wanted. Five-year-old Ruairi said: “A guitar.”
“Oh,” I said. “You want to be a musician like your father?”
“No. I want to be a rock star.”
Which shows ambition of a sort.
His brother, seven-year-old Lorcan, was more direct.
“What do you want for Christmas?”
“How much can I have?” he said, the Argos catalogue open and ready.
Which at least set parameters around which Santa Claus could work.
When it comes to buying a present for a child to whom you are not directly related, there has always been a balancing act. This comes down to what looks best whilst costing least.
But rather than buy the plastic truck on a deal for £6.99 and spending three quid wrapping it up, why not just hand over a tenner in an envelope?
As the survey suggests, most youngsters prefer it.