Most toys aren’t made with parents in mind. Most gift-giving is well-intentioned but can be woeful for us mothers and fathers who have to live with the gift. So I’ll make it simple for you. Here’s what not to give the children in your life.
- Anything that has more than 5 parts in the box. It’s OK if the parts assemble together permanently, but if they don’t, put the box down and walk away from that aisle. I swear, that 125-piece food play set was sent from Satan himself. Items will get lost, trampled on, thrown, strewn all over the floor and eventually end up in the trash can.
- Anything that doesn’t have an on/off switch. Because nothing will drive you to the brink of insanity like a toy that can’t be shut off.
- Anything that doesn’t have volume control. Yes, that singing Elsa doll is oh so cute and the little girl will be delighted. But after two weeks of hearing “Let It Go” belted out over and over and over at full blast, it will take everything within the parent’s power not to beat the every living crap out of the doll. If the volume can be lowered, such as LeapFrog’s Scout, the toy’s lifespan just got longer.
- Anything that requires special markers or paper to work. For example, Crayola’s Color Explosion Set. Sure, it’s cool. But it’s advertised as “this Crayola Color Explosion set offers kids endless surprising fun.” Guess what? It’s not bloody endless. It’s 18 pages and that’s it. For a 3-4 year old, that’s gone in perhaps 3-5 minutes. Then they ask for more, the parent is empty-handed, staring at a sobbing child. So if you must buy something like this (because it is cool!), include lots of extra paper or markers so that it’s not a bust within 10 minutes.
- Any toy that requires an internet access. There will be war within the household if the toy is a hit and the kid wants to take it everywhere where it just becomes useless. This is one that you really need to check with the parent on. If the child is old enough to understand internet access is not everywhere, then it’s OK. But if not, then the tantrums will be epic and endless.
- Check if the toy requires special batteries. Batteries that are beyond AA or AAA are a problem. God forbid the battery is CR2032. The parent will either spend an entire paycheck in Target getting what’s needed, or have to wait a month for a bulk shipment from China.
- Do not get a gift that is not age appropriate. Getting a 5-yr old a gift that is meant for an 8-yr old only means the parent has to constantly interact/explain the toy and eventually, it gets tossed aside by frustration.
Things you can do to make the parent love you –
1. If the toy requires batteries, bring them along too. Few things are as thoughtful as this gesture, no matter what the toy.
2. Check with the parent what the child is into. If he/she has a set of something (e.g. My Little Pony dolls), ask which one the child is missing and commit to the parent to buy that one missing piece. Then follow through.
3. If the gift requires assembly, make sure the necessary tools are included in the package. But still refer to #1 above.
So, what are your pet-peeves with your kid(s) Christmas gifts?