Having children really does add another dimension to the magic of Christmas.
Their excitement is what it’s all about.
On the other hand, it’s also when us parents are bombarded with a whole pile of crap to organise, build, dodge, get driven mad by and be just plain afraid of.
When you’re considering what to buy your nephew, grandchild, godchild or whatever other relative whose parents you, hopefully, don’t want to torture, please bear in mind the following that we do not want to see under the tree:
1. Really big stuff
The giant stuffed bunny might seem like a really good idea. Of course I can’t deny it’s adorable and the potential for hilarious pictures of our kids climbing all over it is tempting.
But consider this. Where the hell is it going to go? The children can no longer open their bedroom doors due to the mountain of stuff on the other side and we gave up our bed to the Lego collection long ago.
To be fair, there’s a spare corner on the roof. Don’t forget to wrap up some rope to tie it in place.
2. Toys that come in loads of teeny tiny pieces
Lego, jigsaw puzzles, card games. These are all things that we have to spend ages scuttling about on our knees picking up at the end of every day.
Consider the state of our back and how precious time is. Buy stuff that comes in one piece, just not too big a piece (see item 1).
3. Noisy toys
Squeeee, I pushed the “try it” button in the shop and thought it was hilarious, I just couldn’t resist. Yeah, great. Try listening to it one hundred zillion times a day, then tell me how bloody hilarious it is.
Seriously. Language skills aside. There’s nothing to gain from these mind-numbingly repetitive toys except for bleeding ears.
4. Anything that can be used as a weapon
That plastic toy sword, those sweets that come in a really long plastic tube, and any ball that isn’t just filled with air.
You think they look like harmless fun. In the hands of an excited toddler they can take out an entire Christmas tree and leave a trail of relatives nursing bumped heads in their wake.
5. Stuff that enables the kids to deface our home
Arty stuff is brilliant. But please remember to check the label for that word that’s music to every parent’s ears. Washable.
Otherwise we are going to be scrubbing big black lines of scribble off of our walls, the children’s faces and the cat until New Year’s Eve.
6. Items that are too complicated for our kid to do themselves
Little Timmy wants the model aeroplane that’s pictured on the box. The trouble is, little Timmy isn’t a qualified engineer.
He can’t even say instructions, let alone read them. This means mum or dad, or both, have to struggle to get the damn thing built so little Timmy can play with it for all of 10 seconds before he gets bored and discards it to the bottom of the toy chest.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. It is the season of goodwill after all and children are at the very heart of that.
So please, by all means, buy everything on the list of it makes you happy. However, in return I would just ask that you take inspiration from my list. It’s an easy one, with only one item on it, so shouldn’t be too much bother:
1. A big, big house to fit all of the plastic, noisy and messy crap that comes with having kids in one massive room where I never have to see it.
Thanks! Happy shopping everyone!