Pet patience: Alternative Christmas presents for a child that wants a pet

mom and daugther petting a bunny
Margaret Davies

Many children hold out hope to get a pet for Christmas, even if their parents have been saying a very firm “no” to the question all year long!

It is never a good idea to give pets as presents at any time of the year, let alone at Christmas, because even if you have done lots of research and your child is really keen to have a pet, the upheaval and business of the season does not make for a good starting environment. If you find yourself in this situation where your child is desperately hoping to get a pet for Christmas but you know that this is not the right thing to do, there are a range of alternatives that you might want to consider instead of a pet. Some of these will be helpful for your child with a future pet, or as an alternative to save disappointment on the day itself. It is important to make sure that your child understands that however much they wish for it, they aren’t going to wake up on Christmas morning to receive an animal, but this does not mean that you cannot give them something pet-themed, or as a halfway point between preparation and the eventual animal itself. Read on for our suggestions.

Advice books and references

Advice books, downloads and references that can be purchased in hard copy or as online study guides and courses are really useful for anyone who is planning to get a pet of any kind, adult of child! These can be purchased for any type of pet from goldfish to dogs and cats to horses, and for small furry pets, birds and reptiles too! Presents such as these can also be really useful to assess your child’s enthusiasm and how it might translate in practice with a real pet-if they are happy to sit and read and learn all about their potential future pet, this is a good sign, but if they’re not prepared to put in the effort, not so much!

A course of lessons or experience day

If your child wants something large and expensive like a pony, investing in a course of lessons, an experience day at a local riding school or a part-share in the loan of a pony can be a good compromise. Whether or not you actually intend to buy your child a horse or pony in the end or not, these are all ways that you can support and encourage your child in their hobby, and allow them to learn things that will remain useful long after Christmas is over.

A voucher for a pet store

If you intend to allow your child to have a pet of some sort sooner or later, buying them a gift voucher for a large pet store or online retailer that sells equipment and supplies for their pet of choice is a great idea, because this is sure to come in useful! As well as being handy to have when it comes to actually buying the things the pet will need, it allows your child to plan and think about what they will need and how to get it, and so, give them something fun to do over Christmas itself!


Whether your child has their heart set on a dog, cat, rabbit or pony or something entirely different, there are sure to be a whole range of different bits and pieces that they will need in order to take care of them. If you intend to allow your child to have a pet at some point over the coming year, it can be very exciting for them to be able to feel this as a reality rather than a potential intangible, by having some of their presents designed to help with the pet’s care. Be it a cage, collar and lead or something else, starting to build the necessary equipment and accessories that your child will need for their future pet can make for a very rewarding Christmas and also, come in handy in the future!

A task list

If you feel that your child is almost ready to own a pet but is not quite there-or if you yourself want to make sure it is the right decision before jumping in-why not make one of your child’s presents a task list or tick list of things they have to do first! This list could include things such as learning about common health problems and ailments that can affect the pet, spending a certain amount of time helping someone with a similar pet, or anything else that you feel requires commitment and time, to allow your child to prove their case!


If you are ready to allow your child to have a pet but simply understand the sense of waiting until after Christmas, you might want to accompany any or all of the above with an IOU for the pet in question, to be “cashed in” as it were a couple of weeks into the new year!
(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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