How to gift smarter: a plea from exhausted parents!
Does it emit high-pitched sounds all day and all night? Will it need new batteries as often as the baby needs new diapers? Does it come with tiny, shiny, irresistible parts? Is there a messy liquid involved? Will it break into multiple bits with just a little boisterous play?
To everyone out there looking for something to gift a child whose parents you actually like: if the answer to any of the questions above is “yes”, leave the store immediately!
Whether you have children or not, it’s often hard to realise that while shopping for a small child, it’s actually the parents you need to please. Children flit from one activity to another in a matter of minutes, and it’s the parents left cleaning up after them, wiping paint from walls or willing that automatic toy engine siren to just STOP.
So be smart and make sure what you gift a kid doesn’t become a huge cause of stress for parents and especially, sleep-deprived moms. Here are the things to stay away from!
Anything too large
Not too many of us live in palaces so avoid gifting a giant drum set, for example. Or a huge play house that can’t be moved anywhere and occupies half the living room. Large gifts only cause more clutter around the house and leave parents feeling like their entire home just turned into a playground.
Anything too small
Boxes full of tiny colourful beads may seem like a fun craft activity but think about them rolling around your own house. Doesn’t sound like much fun now, right? Smaller toys also tend to get lost quicker, which means more tantrums and trouble for the parents. Anything with too many little parts is of course, an automatic choking hazard for little children who can’t resist putting them in their mouths. Wait till the child is a little older and doesn’t have to be watched all the time before you venture down this road!
Look, we know kids love shrieks, bangs, booms and everything else in that zone. And yes, the goal is to entertain them. But after a while, they move on to the next fun toy and this loud thing you just bought is now destroying the 30 minutes of sleep that Mom managed to get. Musical instruments that your neighbours can hear must qualify as too loud. Toys that talk or sing continuously only add to the heightened noise levels in a home with kids. And most important, anything that doesn’t turn itself off after four seconds is a definite no-no. If you must get something that makes a sound, make it an interactive book!
If your gift is a walking-talking character that needs special batteries from a store one hour away, don’t buy it. If a toy can’t be wiped clean with a basic cloth, don’t buy it. If it has to be stored only a certain way, don’t buy it. In a nutshell, if the gift doesn’t fit easily into the lives of parents, it’s really not worth it!
We asked our mommy-community on Instagram what were the worst gifts, for children. And here's what they had to say.
Not all of them are a complete no-no, we would say. As @thewayimom said, Legos and play-doh are great toys for imagination, sensory input, and fine motor skills. Perhaps, you could just check if the kids do not have too many of it already. There's no harm in checking with the parents before you buy something!
So what else can you buy? Clothes are always a good idea, kids need them all the time and they’re not a stressful gift at all! Books are great because they reduce screen time, get kids into the habit of reading early on and most importantly, they are low-maintenance. If you are looking for toys, take the age recommendations and choking hazard warnings on the packaging seriously.
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Think about sensible but fun toys like our VertiPlay range which can be stuck on walls so that no one has to go picking them up. Or, safe, entertaining, all-in-one, foldable activity centers which give parents a little free time. For tactile toys, choose larger, colorful wooden blocks over tiny ones so that even the little ones can play safely. And we don’t know a parent who ever said no to a gift voucher!
Also read: Why Wooden Toys are the Best Toys!
We’d love to hear some of your gift ideas or entertaining stories of a gift that just didn’t work out for you! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and have fun gifting!