When I was growing up the gift option of choice was federal savings bonds. When I was old enough to be allowed to make my own financial decisions I promptly sold them and invested the proceeds in the stock market, where my long term inflation-adjusted returns would be much higher. Among both my high school and college graduation gifts were shares of stock and the returns from those have been impressive, but the advantages of such gifts often go beyond dollars and cents.
Garnering interest in the markets was never a problem with me, but that was clearly the exception. Giving children shares of stock not only gives them a valuable financial asset, but it also allows one to expand the financial education process with them at an early age. At some point (perhaps not at first depending on how old they are), recipients are going to ask what that framed share of Disney stock is, and at that point you can explain it to them. Such a conversation might, at the very least, start them toward a path of being very educated when it comes to the responsibility of managing their finances.