Finding presents for friends and family can be difficult AND stressful! I struggle on most birthdays and holidays with what to get my own children, let alone someones kid that I don’t even live with. Part of my problem is that I really despise most toys; either they are unimaginative and boring or they are cheaply made with about a billion pieces that will be lost in a matter of minutes. Kids need classic high quality toys that will last generations; things like baby dolls, blocks, dress ups, toy animals, balls, cars, toy food, and bicycles. I don’t even mind some action figures as long as they don’t require adult supervision (Transformers), promote questions on unrealistic human anatomy (Barbies), or contain evil – scary – unrealistic facial/body features (who wants to desensitize their children to images that SHOULD give them nightmares?). The whole purpose of children playing is to give them the opportunity to act out and pretend how they will respond to social situations (what will mama bear do when McQueen tries to run over her adopted baby cheetah?). Kids use fantasy so they don’t have to use real life situations (death, divorce, violence, etc.) that may cause issues of distrust and fear.
When I was a kid I had all sorts of ‘play dates’ with mythical creatures, talking horses, and flying toboggans. But none of my toys forced me to learn about adult issues like sex, divorce, or substance abuse. I also don’t remember having any toys that looked like mutilated dead bodies being occupied by some evil supernatural being. We did play with GI Joes and glorified the idea of defending the bathroom rug from the African safari animals, we just did it without the blood and guts actually coming OUT of the soldiers chest. Lets face it, now days toys are just too graphic, adult oriented, and disgusting.
That being said, what do you buy a 6 year old girl who isn’t into princesses and being beautiful (thank heavens!) but already has more than enough baby dolls and toy animals? Even more frustrating than finding a gift for a girl who isn’t ‘into’ the girly things on isle 3 is buying a gift for a girl who has NO IDEA what she might want. My kids don’t watch much TV and they are forbidden from watching commercials (I really don’t like explaining tampon commercials to my 4 year old boy) so they really have no clue as to what is even an option for a Christmas present. J5 asks me all the time, “Mom, what do YOU think I should ask Santa to bring me on Christmas?” Luckily C7 has a list of random things he has seen throughout the year that appeal to him (a roller coaster, a unicycle, a tuba, a snowboard) so I can hopefully find one of the things on his list to be at least a little bit adaptable. But for J5 I am at a complete and utter loss.
Friends and extended family members can be equally discouraging. For example I have never had an 8 year old boy and I never was an 8 year old boy so I really don’t know where to begin with a child of an age and gender I have little experience with. I would hate to buy him something that was too advanced for his abilities but I would equally hate to buy him something that he thought was a ‘baby’ toy. Luckily there are some options out there for help.
Partly because I am a compulsive book buyer and partly because I like doing all of my shopping in one place I shop at Amazon quite often. The other day I came across a “Holiday Toy List” where they have taken a lot of the guess work out of buying for certain age groups. Maybe this will be of some assistance to others like it was for me. Keep in mind, as with other toy stores, most of the stuff is just junk but it does help to narrow down the age and gender issue.
If you’re still looking for a great toy, here is a list of toys my kids have received from various birthdays and holidays that they have enjoyed time and again.
dress ups (for real people, Dr, Bride, Soldier, Nurse, Fireman, etc.),
cars & trucks of all shapes and sizes,
and Books BOOKS BOOKS!! (When all else fails, a kid can NEVER have too many books).