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Ten Rules For Buying A Kid A Gift…

March 30, 2012

This is something I have been meaning to put together for a while, but for some reason, keep putting off. It’s probably out of season, Christmas and Hanukkah having been months ago, but I figure birthdays happen every day, so why not try to let people know the best way to save some of their money, and a parents sanity. This is not meant to sound ungrateful or unappreciative of the things people buy for my kids, only to give people some insight as to what hell certain gifts shower upon us, the parents of the gifts’ recipient(s). Also, these are going to be appropriate for little kids like mine, from birth to about three years old. So if there is something that may apply to older kids, please feel free to share it.

1. Bigger is not always better. I get it. Who doesn’t want to be the guy who walks into a kids party with the biggest gift? It draws attention, and every set of little eyes widen with anticipation and excitement. Here’s the problem, though. Unless the gift includes the construction of an addition to my house, I am going to have a problem storing it. My house was not built out of some sort of elastic material or with the expandable wall feature (We are poor), so please consider that after you leave, I have to find a place to put this thing…

2. Louder is not always better. Hey cool Uncle, I get that Dora guitar sounded cool at Toys R’ Us, and in five-minute intervals, doesn’t quite get under your skin. There is one huge difference between you and me: I don’t get to go home when the migraine starts to set in. I am home. There is no escape for me. So unless you want your gift to be beaten with a goddamn sledgehammer 24 hours after you give it, please, let’s keep the decibel level low…

3. Batteries are the scourge of parents everywhere, believe me. There two things that every parent learns within about four days of their first child being born. The first is that feces are going to be a really big part of your life for a while. The other? Batteries are really fucking expensive, and everything involving your children seems to need them. Also, there is nothing worse than dealing with a tantrum from a two-year old because his Hess Truck batteries died at 9:00 at night, and his idiot father forgot to buy new batteries. So please, if you can find something that doesn’t require them, please do. You will never see more appreciative parents than those whose children are playing with toys that don’t require the financial upkeep of a compact car…

4. If you absolutely MUST buy a battery-operated toy. Please supply the first round of batteries. Kids seem to think that if they don’t play with a toy within three minutes of its arrival, it will evaporate into thin air. So again, to avoid an apocalypticly annoying whiney kid, make sure you include enough of the RIGHT SIZE batteries to get it going…

5. More Pieces does NOT mean more fun. The four hundred piece Lego set looks great on the box, where all the pieces are assembled into something spectacular. At home? It’s going to be three-hundred and ninety sharp edged pieces spread over every room in my house for me to either have to constantly be picking up, or stepping on in bare feet on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The other ten pieces? Those are the ones I have to throw away after my dog passes them through her digestive track and shits in my back yard. And if you don’t think that every time I break skin on one at midnight I am not immediately cursing your name, think again…

6. Clothes are the most under-rated gift you can give. I know it’s boring. I know kids don’t run around the room in euphoria when they open a box of pajamas. But screw them, they have enough shit to play with. Parents will love you for it. For kids, clothes are disposable. They get to where them two, maybe three times before the weather changes and/or they outgrow them. This is not an exaggeration. So this is a big financial burden on parents everywhere. And we aren’t picky. Pajamas, shirts, dresses, jackets, it doesn’t matter. There is really no such thing as having to many outfits for a growing child…

7. Let my kid flex his imaginative muscles. Again, not everything has to light up and make noise for a kid to enjoy it. In fact, most parents are desperately trying to get their kids interested in toys that allow them to use their imagination and expand their creativity. Playdoh is great. Art supplies are fine (Washable please). Anything that will allow my child to define their own experience is always preferable. Also, not to be too “liberal parent” here, but please, no toy guns. It’s hard enough trying to raise kids in a gun loving culture without giving them a prop to practice with…

8. Mo’ gifts, mo’ problems. It is not a competition. My kids will not think you love them more than the other Grandma if you buy them more gifts. All it will mean is more mess, and more toys that NEVER GET TOUCHED 24 hours after they are opened. Save your money. Trust us that we have raised our children to appreciate anything they are given, and will never put their hands out for more, or be disappointed if a gift total didn’t meet their expectations…

9. Keep your retirement fund intact. Kids don’t appreciate the cost of ANYTHING. I have a 50″ flat screen HD TV with marker all over it to prove it. So do yourself a favor, keep it cheap. They are going to love anything you give them, and often times prefer the box the gift came in. So go easy on your wallet. Keep in mind that whatever you give them is likely to be broken inside of a week, so maybe the $200 mini computer isn’t the best gift in the world for an 18 month old.

10. Insert your own rule here. I am sure there are rules I haven’t thought of, so I am leaving number ten for you. Use the comments section below. Stand up and be heard, or be forever cursed with amplified drum kits, vomiting baby dolls and battery zapping space guns…

  1. Dan permalink

    I appreciate your point of view, however, if my grandson asks for a drum set, he’s gonna get a drum set!

  2. Joline permalink

    Ugh Dan!!! U can get him the drum set to play with at your house!

    I love your rules! The perfect gift is actually money. My kids love to pick out their own gift. It usually is some kind of art kit. Also u spend less because nothing beats 10 $1 bills.

  3. Joline Exactly right about the drumset. If I was the parent (Dan being the grandparent), my reply would be “go ahead & buy it, I’m sure some child down at the Goodwill will LOVE your donation, because I am going to MAKE SURE that it’s dropped off there immediately.”

    I especially love the clothes rule where the poster replies “screw them, they have enough shit to play with.” Exactly, they sure do. I also agree about noisy toys like the Dora guitar–you better believe I’m extremely “get that out of here NOW!!!” about noisy toys like that. My kids have learned really quickly that I don’t want any part of that in the living room where I’m at. They can do it in their own room, with the door closed also.

    As I told my mother–last time I checked, it was MY house, not the kid’s.


  4. Devan permalink

    Cold. Hard. Cash.
    Works everywhere, teaches the value of a dollar, allbeit small. 10 one dollar bills = the perfect gift. Nothing to store. Bliss.

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