If you were shopping in 1984, you remember that Cabbage Patch Kids were the hottest toy that nobody other than the most savvy shopper could find. The 2011 version of the Cabbage Patch kid is the LeapPad. If you're not one of the 14% who say they plan to buy one this holiday season, you may not know that it's the children's version of a tablet device. (To learn more, check out The Hottest Toys This Christmas.)

TUTORIAL: Investing 101

The LeapPad may be one of the few hot items this year that is made to be educational, but it's not geared towards the older child, the one that may want a new wardrobe or the latest blow-everything-up video game.

If you don't want all of your child's gifts to hold no lasting value, and are interested in teaching your kids lessons about money management, it's time to purchase some stock.

How Does It Work?
For adults, purchasing stock is about as ceremonial as direct deposit. It all happens on your computer screen and the only certificate you get is a receipt for the order that you print out yourself. They don't even send you a certificate any more, but there are ways to put some ceremony in this gift.

First, what are your child's interests? Do they like Disney characters? Do they beg for an ice cold can of Coke with dinner? Think about those interests in terms of a company they would find interesting. During the holiday season of 2011, the top six most popular gifted stocks are: Disney (NYSE:DIS), Harley Davidson (NYSEA:HOG), Starbucks (NYSE:SBUX), Ford (NYSE:F), Coca Cola (NYSE:KO), and Under Armour (NYSE:UA). Other ideas include Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), Hasbro (Nasdaq:HAS), Hershey (NYSE:HSY) and GameStop (NYSE:GME). (For more, see The Evolution Of Ticker Symbols.)

Where to Get It
Once you make your decision, you have two choices. You can use an existing account with a discount broker and ask them to help you get an actual stock certificate, or the better option is to purchase from one of the online companies that specialize in gifts like this.

Oneshare, one of the most popular of these companies, offers a share of stock that comes with a colorful certificate framed and ready for display. This company also sends child-friendly information about what it means to be a shareholder and allows further purchases of shares making the gift into an investment. Purchasing from this company or others will cost about twice the price of the actual share, but those costs cover the frame, mat and certificate.

Why is this the perfect gift to teach your child about money? One parent said that after they purchased their child shares of Coca Cola, they would go to the grocery store and have discussions about how the 12-pack of Coke they just purchased was adding value to the shares of stock that she now owned.

The Bottom Line
Giving children a real, tangible way to learn about money and how to manage it is far more valuable than the year's hottest gifts. That may be why the gift of just one share of stock has been an idea that has withstood the test of time, unlike those Cabbage Patch Kids. (To further teach your kids, read What Kids Should Know About Money.)

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    7 Creative Ways to Save for an Early Retirement

    Take note of these out of the box steps you can take towards securing yourself an earlier, more comfortable retirement.
  2. Retirement

    Birch Box Review: Is It Worth It?

    Learn more about the convenience of the subscription beauty box industry, and discover why the Birchbox company in particular has become so popular.
  3. Personal Wealth & Private Banking

    Women, Invest In Your Financial Literacy

    Becoming financially literate should be on the to-do list of anyone who is not.
  4. Savings

    How to Save Your First $100,000

    Saving your first $100,000 requires the discipline to put money away and control your spending. But just remember – the savings get bigger as you go.
  5. Retirement

    3 Reasons Why This Is the Perfect Time To Visit Greece

    Discover three reasons why now is the best time to visit Greece, including the favorable exchange rate and the country's unrivaled hospitality.
  6. Home & Auto

    What are The Best Ways to Save on Moving Costs?

    Because buying a house isn’t cheap, funds might be limited during your move. So, to avoid additional stress, here are seven money saving tips.
  7. Budgeting

    How Much Rent Can You Afford on $50K a Year?

    Before you go apartment hunting, spend some time calculating a price range that works for you. Here's how.
  8. Personal Finance

    Tips for Talking About Money at Every Step of a Relationship

    How much you talk about money differs, depending on the stage of the relationship.
  9. Retirement

    Living in the Dominican Republic on $1,000 a Month

    Determine whether a $1,000 monthly budget is enough to live comfortably and safely in the Dominican Republic, an island nation located in Caribbean waters.
  10. Home & Auto

    Living in China on $1,000 a Month

    Learn how you can live comfortably on a $1,000 monthly budget in China, a country known around the world for its growing economic power.
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center