My Terrible Christmas Gift Guide of things you should NOT give to kids.
ATTENTION ALL Aunties, Uncles, Grannies, Grandpas and New to Newish Parents! Here follows a guide to all those Christmas gifts our kids have been kindly given but we more seasoned parents wish they never had been. In compiling this list I consulted a panel of experts (parents who have been there, done that and are smiling through gritted teeth).
In our household even Father Christmas has made some silly mistakes.
Let’s face it, buying gifts for kids is complicated. The choice is VAST the expectations are SKY HIGH and therefore the pressure is ENORMOUS. At this time of the year adults are charging around town with little lists looking for those perfect Christmas gifts. Now, although kids are generally very excited by what they are given, no matter what it is, let me just add a tiny caveat – the perfect gift does not exist and trying to find it will not make you or your child happy. So take a deep breath, slow down and stop panicking. What I mean is whatever you buy will be appreciated for a time but if that’s your ultimate happiness goal for Christmas, you may be bound for disappointment.
Most gifts are lovingly bought and thoughtfully given. Some are very expensive. It’s a terrible pity if all that kindness and money has all gone to waste on a gift that’s never used or unsuitable. I thought it sensible to help you navigate the tricky waters of indecision and so have I compiled this list of gifts that kids have been given in the past and are not appropriate for five main reasons (some gifts fit under multiple categories).
1. The Problem of Size:
If you are buying a gift for a child who lives in an apartment you probably wouldn’t give them a swings and slide set. Some people have got close though.
- ‘My son was given an enormous ride on JCB – it was fun but way too big for our tiny back garden!’ MummyIsAGadgetGeek.co.uk
- ‘We used to live in a small flat in London. For some reason my Mum and Sister always bought massive gifts! I know they meant well but we didn’t need a table for mega blocks or a Fisher price door. There was just about room to open the bedroom door without adding large lumps of plastic to the mix’. –
- ‘An activity table that was so loud and too small for her to stand at but too big to sit on the floor and play with.’ – cupsofcharlotte.co.uk
- ‘The Fisher price little people sit and stand skyway. It’s tall and bulky and just gets in the way and you can’t take it down once it’s put together!’ – readaraptor.co.uk
- ‘A toy Grande piano! It’s music was made with little bells under the keys but it was really large and really loud. It may have recently come to a tragic end…. I just don’t know how it broke’.- winnettes.com
2. The Problem of Noise:
This one’s a tricky one as some noise is ‘good’ noise! I do love that my kids enjoy making music and I enjoy listening to them playing but I insist on them ‘practicing’ in their bedrooms – with the doors shut. There are also some toys that were designed by people who must have been wearing earplugs at the time.
- ‘A Frozen doormat that plays let it go every time you stand on it!! Two years and still going painfully strong!!!’ – pinkpearbear.com
- ‘Singing Elsa. ‘Let it go’ on repeat when she is motion activated has scared me so many times walking into the playroom at night time it’s not funny!’
- ‘Drums and a guitar. I figured they absolutely hated us that year.’ –
- ‘A recorder. By Boxing Day I wanted to snap it in two!!’ – fivelittledoves.com
- ‘Water Flutes… Not only do they come out at bath time but randomly my daughter will find one (I think there are 5) they are basically recorders.’ – katykicker.com
- ‘Anything with a really irritating ‘tune”. – myboysclub.co.uk
- ‘A couple of years ago my Mum bought my then 3 & 1 year old the following:- 1 x toy trumpet, 1 x toy drum set, & 1 x harmonica. I’m still wondering what I did to ‘annoy’ her that year!’ – themumconundrum.com
3. The Problem of Refills:
I suffered from no-batteries-unusable-toy guilt for years. Now I avoid giving gifts that need constant supplies to make them work. If you are not prepared to keep buying batteries, shaving cream, bullets, chocolate chips etc it’s probably better not to give a gift that require them. Alternatively, it’s a good plan to try and include refills with the gift.
- ‘A Peppa Pig microphone, it didn’t have an off switch, and it ran out of batteries SO quickly it was doing the creepy singing constantly. It ended up in with batteries removed AND in the bin!‘ – emilyandindiana.com
- ‘A nerf gun – I’ve been ‘losing’ the bullets all year!’ –womaninprogress.co.uk
4. The Problem of Unsuitability:
Most toys come with an age recommendation on the packaging but if you’re not sure, ask someone who has used the toy.
- ‘Big box of sharpies for a 2 year old’ – havekidswilltraveluk.com
- ‘My eldest was given a huge packet of milky bar buttons when she had only just turned one. Even ignoring she didn’t eat dairy that’s too much chocolate for that age.’ – countingtoten.co.uk
- ‘Sugary sweets! We have far too much energy without them!’ – autismkidsontour.com
- ‘Last year one of the gifts for my then 11 month old was a life size Minnie Mouse. She was TERRIFIED! Cried every time she looked at it and we had to hide it in the wardrobe for months. She loves it now but it was inappropriate for her age and seeing her cry on Christmas Day was horrible!’ – tattooedtealady.com
5. The Annoying Games:
Ok so this is really only the parent’s problem, because kids love these! We have a son who loves weapons – that picture above is his potato gun. That’s what my potatoes end up looking like and I find tiny nubs of potato stuck to the bottom of my socks. I have to admit I did give that to him and he has so much fun with it I’d hate to not recommend it if I’m honest. I’ve limited him to the smallest potatoes now and he has to help me sweep the floor!
And one year one of my lovely sisters gave my kids some bath slime, it was horrible! Cleaning the bath was not fun, the stuff oobled between my fingers as I tried to scoop it up. I reckon you should avoid anything that has the words ‘slime’, ‘splat’ or ‘ooze’ on the box.
About board games, there are so many available nowadays but there are some that are absolutely awful! These are a few that other parents would have preferred not be playing with their kids, or cleaning up after.
- ‘Silly Sausage. It’s not silly at all, but very, very annoying’ – householdmoneysaving.com
- ‘Gooey Louie was absolutely not something I wanted in our house. It was such a shame when it got lost during our house move….. cough….’ – familytravelwithellie.com
- ‘Soggy doggy – even though it scared the crap out of our eldest when it went off she insisted on harassing us to play it all the time. Then she carried the rubber dog around for weeks until it started to smell really, really bad’. thesleepthiefsmummy.co.uk
- ‘That face splat game. They used all my shaving foam and all the squirty cream for the Irish coffees and desserts!!’-
If you can, I think it’s best to keep it all simple and not go overboard on the gifts.
‘For us it’s not so much what but how much people buy for my daughter at Christmas, no matter how much I try to keep a lid on it. My daughter has 8 Aunts/Uncles as well as 2 sets of grandparents and great-grandparents and so our house generally looks like a toy shop on Christmas morning!’ – raisingaragamuffin.com
Slowly as our children grow and become disillusioned or disappointed by the short-lived nature of the enjoyment of their gifts, I feel it’s more and more necessary to teach them to value the things that have lasting significance, like celebrating the true meaning of the day, building memories and remembering what’s most important at this time of the year.