What NOT to give kids for Christmas

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Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s December 2017 issue.
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My children began their Christmas lists in October. Curious to see what made the list this year, I read over my daughter’s shoulder and was shocked to see that she had asked for a doll that spits up and wets itself, an expensive Lego set, and a live donkey. These items were NOT on my Christmas list for my children. When you begin your Christmas shopping this year, instead of asking what the kids would like for Christmas, consider asking the parents what they do NOT want their kids to get for Christmas.

A million pieces

 Everyone is likely to get frustrated with a toy that comes with “a million” pieces. In no time, the pieces tend to get spread across the entire house, and it is nearly impossible to get them back together. “Once the pieces are lost, the whole toy is pointless because you can’t do anything with it if certain pieces are missing,” says Kassie Rew, mom of three. Before giving, consider the ages of the children in the home. A 9-year-old may ask for Polly Pocket dolls or Legos, but they can quickly turn into a choking hazard for a baby brother and a become massive stress for the parents.

Some assembly required

 Every parent cringes when their child opens a fun, exciting toy and the box has the words “some assembly required” which usually means the parent spends hours reading frustrating directions and assembling the toy late into the night. If you are giving a toy that requires assembly, please consider putting it together before gifting.

A not-so-joyful noise

 Loud toys have been irritating parents since their invention. Musical instruments, toys with hammers, and battery operated toys with no volume control all contribute to the already high level of noise pollution in the average household. When purchasing a noisy toy for a favorite niece or nephew, please stop and imagine it being passed back to your own house when you have children. If that makes you shudder, keep shopping.

Batteries not included

While we are talking about battery powered toys, please consider a few things as you purchase a gift. Does the toy require batteries? If yes, are the batteries regularly available at a reasonable price? “We don’t care for toys that require massive amounts of expensive batteries. Sometimes the batteries cost more than the toy itself,” says Jessi Cole, mom of three. Check if the toy comes with batteries or if you must purchase them separately. Make sure to have batteries on hand when the child opens the gift, so they can begin playing with it immediately.

Toys that encourage violence

 Lauren Heller,  mom of twins, says “Anything that encourages hitting or violence against siblings is discouraged. They fight enough as it is.” Toys such as Nerf guns, swords, punching bags, and boxing gloves are not ideal for families that may not want weapons in the house. Amy Cameron, mom of three, has a different perspective “A water gun, lightsaber, or Nerf gun for only one sibling is not desired. They need to be equally armed.” It is best to ask permission before purchasing these items.

All that glitters isn’t always gold

Many families love to receive craft items as gifts and even specifically request them. Others may find them messy, stressful, and frustrating. Play dough, paint, markers, stamps, beads, and glitter all fall into this category. “It doesn’t feel like a gift when we are trying to get ink out of laundry, carpet, or off the walls,” says Bridget Estelle, mom of four. Keeping this in mind, some families do enjoy crafts. Double check with the parents to see what their policy on craft supplies is before you make your purchase.

Purchasing a gift for someone is always challenging because you want it to be enjoyed. Ask the parents what they suggest, if anything is not permitted in the house, and if you have a great idea, run it by them first. Consider buying classic toys that are always a hit, or an experience like a membership to a local attraction. Even if you have purchased one of the toys mentioned above or do in the future, don’t fret. Parents know that it truly is the thought that counts and are grateful that their children have generous people in their lives.

Gifts parents LOVE to receive for their kids

  • Educational toys
  • Experiences – zoo membership, movie passes, classes, camps
  • Complete gifts – a tablet, case, warranty, and gift card for apps
  • Accessories – a train to go with a new train set, furniture for a new Dollhouse
  • Books
  • Batteries
  • Practical gifts – clothes, shoes, coats

about the author…Sarah Lyons is a stay at home mom to six kids, including two-year-old triplets. She writes from her home in Kansas City.

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