Christmas is the season of good will and gratitude and as I sit here with my children writing our thank you letters to Santa I am very much wanting to instill that message in them. However there are some complaints I have as a parent to address with Saint Nick in terms of some of the presents he has begun to produce in his workshop.
Returns to Santa
Of course all gifts should be, and are, gratefully received especially by the little creatures in receipt of them. Somebody or Santa has taken the time and love to choose a gift for your child and that is nothing to be frowned upon. However there are some toys which for certain reasons which leave a deep seated dread in the heart of parents as they see their child’s gleeful face as they tear the wrapping paper back.
I have posed this question on my Instagram account as the “No Thank You Gift.” The gift you are most likely never to recommend when a relative kindly asks what to buy your child, or the one you attempt to sway your child from leaving off of Santa’s list. Here is the compiled list of No Thank You Gifts/Returns to Santa:
Top of the list was the recorder. Does it get any more rock n roll than a recorder? I challenge you to find the parent who embraces their child harping painfully through “Three Blind Mice” on Christmas morning and forever more. Musical instruments are a fine present for those ready to enter a world of music lessons and home practice. However, of course, every body has to start somewhere and the road to successful musician will probably be long, agonising and noisy!
Last year I spoke about gifts which were enormous. Those gifts that take over your whole living room and the kitchen, blocking all exits. The huge box every excited child wants to see on Christmas morning because big means amazing right? This was definitely the case when my children were younger. I misjudged the size of toys to the proximity of their bedrooms/living room. However as the years have passed a new problem relating to size has occurred. Tiny Toys. Yes tiny weeny minuscule parts of toy sets such as Polly Pockets, Playmobil etc. Tiny Polly Pocket shoes and outfits the size of an eye lash which if lost or missing is accompanied by a blood curdling scream. My husband and I then resembling the parents in Honey I Shrunk the Kids as we scour and scan on hand and knee to search for the missing flash light from our son’s policeman Playmobil set.
Toilet Humour Board Games
As a former teacher and parent I am well aware that children, especially under 9’s, are obsessed with poo, wee, snot, bogeys and passing wind. With three children there is only so much talk of bodily functions I can take. Therefore what worse when your children ask for one of the thousands of games which all seem to be focused on cleaning up a dog’s poop or how long the flamingo takes on the toilet. Long gone are the days of Pop Up Pirate and Crocodile Dentist when a game can involve scooping rubbery poop pellets from a plastic dogs bum.
The House Wreckers
This grouping of toys also struck high on the list of toys to hide away from children forever/re-gift to someone you don’t like. These are the toys which encrust themselves to your carpets like super glue, stick to ceilings and cover furniture and walls. Arts, crafts, glitter and of course the dreaded slime. I still have no knowledge of how some of the parenting accounts I follow manage to create such perfect crafts on immaculate dining room tables whilst I’m still finding glitter from 2017.
Slime has been a craze that has grown over the last year or so and so far I have managed to avoid all slime related toys. However this year I have found a product whereby the bath turns to slime. I fully expect a full body workout scrubbing the bath clean after but am hoping by containing the slime to the tub I will salvage the carpets. (Pray for me)
Non Universal Toys
This group of toys has caused me an extreme amount of stress over the last few years. My son is a huge train fanatic and loves nothing more than building train tracks around the house. Train track is always a winner for my son as a gift and a few years ago it was ideal as he could keep adding to his own track collection and this gave him great joy. But… the toy companies got savvy.. they realised that train tracks all seemed to fit universally together especially the wooden types and so began the change in pattern meaning that in the last couple of years when my son has received track they do not all join together which causes him great distress. We have found that track has to mostly be purchased from the same toy company to fit. The same is true for the variations of Lego, cheaper alternatives not fitting the same boards and on top of other brands yet looking almost identical. Sigh.
Collectables and The Unboxing Gift
Ah what joyous peaceful moments pass whilst we drink a coffee and do a few chores, our children gathered around YouTube to watch a small child unbox some type of plastic egg or ball with various tat inside. How the minutes can fly by with them engrossed in this mindless TV watching another child open a toy filled with plastic. So of course the ball types collectables containing dolls or dinosaurs make it on to the Santa list. And the children excitedly open them for a magical 3 and a half minutes with perfected YouTube accents only to be disappointed that they have in fact already got that collectable or if it is a new one, play momentarily with and wait for their next unboxing adventure.
Interactive Toys – App Toys
A toy which needs some kind of app to help it speak and “unlock” new possibilities sounds the height of modern technology. What a world we are opening up to our small child with their magical, amazing, high tech toy. The reality? Headache. As you are trying to juggle present opening, cancelling face time calls so that you can download an app to hear your child’s new toys favourite colour or special message.
The Hard Work Present
Sometimes I feel even after Santa has been busily preparing toys for months upon end, making arrangements, selecting gifts, wrapping them all and perfecting everything for the big day that the work doesn’t even stop there. I’m sure most children are like mine and want their toys opened immediately to play with.
This is where it begins as you use bolt cutters, axe grinders and all your might to break the toy free from it’s plastic/cardboard prison to which they have been nailed and crucified onto.
But it doesn’t stop there especially if like some of toys they come with 17,000 pieces all to be assembled along side 5 instruction manuals. The road is long and lengthy in toy assembly.
It’s been great fun discussing the hellish toys our children receive and ask for on Christmas and I had many laughs speaking to parents about these over the last couple of days. After this year I think even the most annoying of gifts will be accomodated if they bring a smile to our children’s faces in what has been such a difficult year for us all.
If you would like to join in the chat about this or listen in then please do join me on BBC Cambridgeshire at 3pm onwards with Richard Spanners Ready.