The Worst Christmas Gift Guide for kids

potato gun and potato

OR a Christmas Gift Guide of things NOT to give to my kids, please

This is the time of the year when all those pesky Christmas Gift Guides start popping up all over social media. Especially as every blogger all over the Western world (including myself) has hopped on the Black Friday bandwagon.

We have so many suggestions on what we should should be buying, so for a change here follows a guide to all those Christmas gifts you should not buy.

Our kids have been given some of these things out of the kindness of people’s hearts but I can’t blame the aunties entirely, in our household even Santa or Father Christmas himself has made some daft errors of judgement.

Let’s face it, buying gifts for kids is complicated. The choice is vast, the expectations are to the moon and back and therefore the pressure on us is monumental. This is the time of the year when parents start to sweat under the weight of childhood expectations. Somehow we have to find that elusive sweetspot where these expectations match the adult budget.

We all know the perfect gift does not exist and trying to find it will not make our children (or even us) happy, but even so we chase the impossible dream, even if it’s only for one day.

Most gifts are lovingly bought and thoughtfully given. Some are very expensive. It’s a huge pity if all that kindness and money has all gone to waste on a gift that’s never used or is unsuitable.

So I have put together this list by consulting a panel of experts (other parents) and I was happy to discover that my husband and I are not the ony ones suffering under the affliction of the terrible Christmas gift, it appears to be a universal problem.

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. You wouldn’t give them a toy giraffe that reaches the ceiling or teddy bear that could double up as a bedspread for a super king, would you??

  • ‘My son was given an enormous ride on JCB – it was fun but way too big for our tiny back garden!’
  • ‘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’.
  • ‘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!’
  • ‘A toy Grand 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’.

2. The Problem of Noise:


OK, I get that some noise is ‘good’ noise! I do love that my kids enjoy making music and I like listening to them playing (as long as the practice at the other side of the house, behind a shut door). However, there are some toys that were designed by people who secretly hate parents.

  • ‘A Frozen doormat that plays let it go every time you stand on it!! Two years and still going painfully strong!!!’
  • ‘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!!’
  • ‘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.’
  • ‘Anything with a really irritating ‘tune”.
  • ‘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!’

3. The Problem of Refills:

Not a battery in the house!

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 can’t keep buying an endless supply of batteries, shaving cream, bullets or chocolate chips, it’s probably better not to give a gift that require them.

  • ‘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!‘
  • ‘A nerf gun – I’ve been ‘losing’ the bullets all year!’

4. The Problem of Unsuitability:


Toys often ome with an age recommendation on the packaging but not everyone reads the packaging! It’s always disappointing for a seven year old to be given ‘Halo’ or ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and all they are allowed to do is kiss the box goodbye. Also, most parents wouldn’t thank you for giving their already hyperactive toddler a trunk of sugary sweets. Then there are other gifts that just aren’t very practical at all.

  • ‘Big box of sharpies for a 2 year old’
  • ‘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.’
  • ‘Sugary sweets! We have far too much energy without them!’
  • ‘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!’

5. The Messy 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 at the top of this post 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 gun 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’
  • ‘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….’
  • ‘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’.
  • ‘That face splat game. They used all my shaving foam and all the squirty cream for the Irish coffees and desserts!!’ theomgdaily

And finally it’s not about the excess receiving but rather about the giving…


It can be tempting to go a litle bit mad at this time of the year. Without a bit of planning or pre-Christmas budgeting, many families across the land end up facing a whole lot of debt in the New Year. I think there’s no harm in keeping 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!’


I have found that as my children grow up, they have sadly started to become disillusioned or disappointed by the short-lived nature of the enjoyment of their presents.

As they move into the tween and teen years it’s good 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.


When our kids are older it’s also good to encourage them to give back to their communities in service like carol singing for charity or donating Christmas Shoeboxes.

We enjoy being a part of our local shoebox appeal and when we can, like to try and help sort and pack the boxes. Do you do anything special with your children at this time of the year?

I hope you have a lovely Christmas filled with peace, joy and the blessings of the season.

40 thoughts on “The Worst Christmas Gift Guide for kids”

  1. Even since Jaxon’s first Christmas, my Mum and I have an agreement of sorts, she’ll get a little present for Jaxon to open on Christmas Day (or Boxing Day) but his main present will be clothing or shoes. Certainly for his first Christmas that made a lot of sense because he just didn’t need heaps of toys – he was six months old. Now he’s 3.5 and I’m not sure how much longer we’ll get away with it but for now it’s definitely made more sense and reduces the level of toys at least a little bit.

    We’ve also combined a “toy clear out” as part of Christmas prep, so we get the tree up and the lights up then my husband and Jaxon go through his current toys and see what they are going to get rid of. Some die hards stay and others go, this time next year we could have cleared out this year’s die hards as they will have been replaced with something else.

    For my Goddaughter I used to buy her clothes for Christmas and her birthday because everyone else would be getting toys for her. Her Mum really appreciated it – especially as I did my best to get something that was kinda girly but not overly pink and flowery!

    1. I’ve been known to give my third baby a bookshelf for Christmas because we needed one for kids books! Thanks for your great comments, it makes so much sense to do a big clear out beforehand and pass the toys on to others who would enjoy them. Clothes are great for girls, I know a few boys who would hate them though!

  2. I could have written this myself, we said to lots of people this year ‘please don’t buy the girls toys’ as they just have so many, but luckily for them, not so much for our storage they got lots more! The noise one is the worst for me, I am fairly sure my husband ‘accidentally’ removes batteries! Thanks for linking this up to #thursdayteam

  3. Can completely relate to these ‘problems.’ The large noisy toys! Must admit though I am guilty of gifting others these problematic gifts. Thank you for sharing. #Blogstravaganza

  4. Space is an issue for us too but the presents always seem to be big. My mum bought my little boy a bike and I was grateful and happy that it wouldn’t need batteries, be loud etc. Yet only my Mum can buy a bike that comes complete with a siren! #ThatFridayLinky

  5. I have had so many of these and banned them from my house. Lucky for me my daughter never cleans her room and the times I’ve ‘accidentally’ stood on something and broken it so it has to be thrown away is too many to count right now! . Also Toy Story figures that talk when no one is in the room in the middle of the night……terrifying lol #blogstravaganza

  6. My brother gave my little girl a really noisy toy for her first birthday. She loves it but it’s driving me insane. We’ll be returning the favour for his child’s first birthday next year! #blogstravaganza

  7. Oh this is so relatable! Thank you for going for the “please don’t” list. My little one just truned one and our parents are spoiling her rotten for Christmas. I keep calling them to add to our “please don’t” list!

  8. Hehe just popping back from BlogCrush. Congratulations on being chosen as someone’s BlogCrush post! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  9. Jo - Mother of Teenagers

    The joy of teens is that most of those annoying gifts are now behind us as everything they want falls into two categories as their world is so virtual, clothes or money to buy clothes! I confess to being one of those mums that used to literally count the days until the latest too big, too noisy, too fiddly, too messy toy could be despatched to the charity shop! Great post Liberty. #TweensTeensBeyond

  10. Brilliant list Liberty and we have been on the receiving end of many of these but I’m ashamed to say that I have given them as well! You see it in a shop and it seems like a fab idea at the time but realise once it’s opened that it has drawbacks. Very clever idea for a post! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  11. I am having nightmares about the ‘Let it Go’ doormat. That song. I feel for this family. Great post thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

  12. that list is red rag to a bull, tell me what i can’t give and what i must buy and you’ll get something off the first list for sure and from experience these gifts are what the kids love the most, even if they are short lived and require a lot of work from the parents. I do however agree with size and number of gifts if you’re from a large family and live in a small house. My ex is one of 7 so every year instead of buying all the kids gifts a budget was set and we bought our kids a certain individual or family toy with the money from everyone, sometimes I’d ask my family to contribute and we’d buy things like a climbing frame or 2nd hand bikes #tweensteensbeyond

  13. Great advice! I have fallen foul of the buying-a-huge-oversized-gift trap before – it didn’t looktoo big in the shop but it took up half the living room once it was assembled! Oops! #blogcrush

  14. Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas

    I think my brother-in-law completely had it in for us. One year he bought our 18 month old a toy drum – that very quickly ‘got lost’, and another year he bought a Kung Fu kicking, musical hamster – which was fine and lovely to watch but it clearly said ‘small parts, not suitable for under 5s’ our son was two at the time! #TweensTeensBeyond

  15. The practice of giving annoying gifts is handed down through the generations. Case-in-point. When I was a wee child I had toys that made “pleasantly pleasing” sounds. Some twenty years later my aunt repaid the favour by giving my daughter a Barbie car that made the most awful grinding noises (Thank you, aunt Carolyn). Odd how that car soon “stopped” making such noise one day and eventually vanished into thin air… he, he, he!

    Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas season!

  16. I understand all of these! My sister has lovingly given each category of gifts to ALL my children when they were little (and I have 8)…. So, when she adopted her daughter, I have dutifully, willfully and consciously violated each of your guidelines! Last night, in fact, I bought my niece a 2 pound box of chocolates as part of her Christmas. It was not a mistake….. 😉

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