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Gift quandary

November 24, 2009

Here’s the thing about gifts for kids: I have a remarkable talent for picking out highly educational, fantastic toys that have a zero-wow-factor when they are opened.

Take for instance this National Geographic Woolly Mammoth dissection kit. I found this at a thrift store last year (brand new! Can you imagine the child who didn’t want this amazingness?) and gave it to Addison for his birthday. He took one look at it, and cast it aside for his other presents.

But I will tell you, that little kit has been used a zillion times in the past year. The fancy tank with its ear-ringing gunfire that he got from a friend: broken. The cap gun: in pieces. The mammoth has staying power, I tell you.

So it is once again Christmas/gift-giving time, and I’m fretting about Christmas morning. Do I Go For The Gasp, as it were, or settle for the duly noted comment when the boys opened their wooden Melissa & Doug puzzles last year:

“Wow that’s…educational,” my sister said.

Flash and pizzazz, or the toy that gets passed on for three generations because it’s hand crafted in the foothills of some rural village?

Which would you choose?

  1. November 24, 2009 8:41 am

    Oh, I love this topic! Great picture too!

    I try to find a happy compromise with a mixture of both but generally go for the fun toys that they will play with right away and then I trick, I mean, reward them by ‘letting’ them earn more educational labeled type toys.

    For example, when Katelynne has 500 reading minutes logged, she gets to pick out……….. new books!! šŸ™‚

    I also am a firm believer in that almost any toy can be viewed as educational (almost!). They are in school almost all day and their only free time, where they would have time to play “make believe”, is for whatever time is left of their 20 minute recess — after they have run 2 laps around the track. So my thinking is that if they want to come home and have a flashy toy that they can run and scream around the house and pretend they are a jedi or rock star, by all means…go for it!

    PS I would totally scream and go ga-ga over the Wooly Mammoth kit, that looks awesome!!!

  2. Janelle Lewis permalink
    November 24, 2009 8:47 am

    Before Dorothy has too much of an opinion, I definitely take a selfish point of view. I want to buy her toys that I think will look good on my living room floor. Because lets face it, that’s where they spend a lot of their time. : )
    So yes, I like to buy Melissa and Doug things, wood toys, things I can picture still being around for my great great great grandchildren to play with… but Dorothy still doesn’t have too much of an opinion, so I’ll keep you posted on how my “living room floor aesthetic criteria” goes.
    I loved the story about the woolly mammoth.

  3. November 24, 2009 10:22 am

    Jeannie–yes, I think a mix of both is a great idea! And I’m all for the subtle “trick”.

    Janelle–I love beautiful, classical toys too. What a good goal! Keep it up!

  4. Alice-Anne permalink
    November 24, 2009 6:16 pm

    ahh…Gary and I have many of these discussions lately. šŸ™‚ Tis the season! I think a mix of both is good, too. Finding good solid toys that will last more than one childhood is a real trick these days. They are hard to find and when you do find them (except for the wooly mammoth kit–good job!) they’re expensive! We broke down and spent 25 dollars on a real, solid dump truck from Cal Ranch for Spencer this year because the trucks we got him for his birthday broke as soon as they opened. But oh! what that steel will do to my walls! šŸ™‚ Good luck with the Christmas shopping!!

  5. Christa Yancy permalink
    November 24, 2009 8:31 pm

    We struggle with this, too. I love classic toys that look nice and last! I am always kicking myself 4-6 months after the holiday, for buying the toy with 50 plastic pieces that get strewn everywhere and never put away, or that extra little junky thing that breaks/gets lost. With my daughter we have just entered the realm of Barbies and Littlest Pet Shop (ugh) which are tiny and have a bazillion pieces! But she adores them!

    Ultimately for me it’s a matter of how badly the child wants it. If they really really really want something, even if in my opinion it is junk/tacky/whatever, I generally go for it (as long as it’s not completely objectionable for some reason). Because in the end, it’s really about them, not me. I have to remind myself of that all the time!! Especially Christmas – you need some wow factor. We all have that memory of looking back on “that” Christmas when you got “that” toy that you really really wanted. šŸ™‚

  6. November 25, 2009 1:52 am

    I am with you Tiffany . . . I like toys to give toys that last and are good. Santa usually gives the rubbish šŸ™‚ One of our favorites this year was the game “sequence” in the states and capitols version. Good luck with your gift giving!

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