If you spend a fortune on a gift that you know he will love, the child is more likely to play with the box. It was true when my babies were...babies. It still holds true for a child under the age of 2. They don't even need wrapping paper, except for the photo op, which will be, of course, the most tangible and lasting byproduct of those Christmases.
A child age 5 and up puts everything on their Christmas list that is just above the dollar limit you have set for Christmas -that is, above your ENTIRE Christmas budget. This trend will not change for many years to come, though the excitement of the day itself tends to make them forget their gift list - a nice side benefit of all the wrapping paper and bows and lights and sugar...
But the golden age of Christmas gift receiving, I think is between the ages of 2 and 4. It is the age where ANYTHING goes on the list, but EVERYTHING is the ultimate prize. They just love to be the center of attention. Their fancy needs slightly more than an empty box to tickle it, but not much more.
Aidan and Josiah got Rudolph noses in their stockings, and true to their namesake, they glowed. It was the toy de jour. Of course, the all-too-predictable nose local grew old quickly and they went in search of alternate placements.
If there is one sad fact about these glowing nasal prosthesis, besides the wonderful elastic indentations that comes from prolonged usage, it is the lack of ability to refresh the batteries. Within mere hours, the reindeer glow was waning, a fact that did not escape the wearer's notice. By the next morning, I fear, it was Mama's turn to explain why Rudolph was red, but no longer capable of lighting the way.
Merry Christmas to all my grandboys and girlies! And my thanks to them for making it merry for me, too!