Five Christmas Gifts for My Kids that Won’t be Money Wasted
I actually think my sons were trolling me this week by playing with toys from last Christmas that they have not looked at since December 26th. Is it possible they are actually trying to upend my quest not to waste my money this year? Every year I end up buying toys that they should like — or at least they would if they had the aesthetic sensibility of a 41 year old woman who loves charming, old-timey, fair trade, non-toxic and just-the-right-amount-ironic play things.
But alas, my soon to be 9 and 5 year olds do not appreciate fine German craftsmanship or the nostalgic charm of fairy tales brought to life in the form of ingenious build-able play sets made of recycled paper. That is mistake number one.
Mistake number two…
I have learned my lesson about buying toys just because they that have that special Christmas zing to them. These are things you would never be bamboozled into buying at any other time of year. This includes anything that is especially elaborate and expensive or remote controlled. I’m looking at you, Zoomer Dino and BB8. In fact, anything even requiring batteries or charging should be looked at with a suspicious eye. The only exception is toys for babies, for whom it’s not always a negative for something to light up or make a noise.
Last year I bought all these beautiful Playmobil toys because they just screamed Christmas morning, only for my younger son never to touch them (until this week naturally). In my defense, my older son would have played with them when he was four. But my little one just isn’t enamored by most toys. Both my kids play with the same things 90 percent of the time. Legos, Pokemon, magnetic tiles, cars, art supplies and video games.
So this year, I am not falling into the usual trap. Here are a few things that, while they may not scream charming classic Christmas morning, I know will at least not be money down the toilet.
YO-KAI WATCH MEDAL ZERO: Yes the show is very derivative. Yes the toy is a piece of garbage. But my kids are obsessed with Yo-Kai Watch and have been for some time. The show itself is actually kind of funny sometimes and while most toys that are garbage are a waste and quick to fade into oblivion, there is some garbage that holds kids’ attention and imagination. For some reason, Yo-Kai Watch falls into this category for my children.
One thing I do like is that even though you basically need to buy “medals” to insert into this dumb watch, and all they do is play an annoying recording, my kids are constantly drawing their own medals. Constantly. I have tiny circular drawings all over my house. And they are pretty intricate and impressive.
BIRD BINGO: Me and my almost 5 year old have really bonded over bird watching. It has been one of the year’s biggest pleasures for me. My son can identify and name over 25 birds and it is a sheer joy to watch. Every kid loves Bingo and I know he will love playing this game and looking at these beautiful drawings.
DOCTOR WHO TEE SHIRT: My oldest son is pretty obsessed with Doctor Who and anytime you can disguise a practical item, such as clothing, as a Christmas gift, it’s a win. He will love this shirt and having to explain its meaning to the kids at school. It will secure him some serious nerd cred.
LEGO FANTASTIC BEASTS: Lego is always a good idea. My son plowed through the last five Harry Potter books this year and is a huge fan. We don’t get as many Lego sets as we used to when he was at the height of Lego mania, but he definitely still loves to put them together and they are more appreciated now that we don’t buy so many. This set is a part of Lego Dimensions which he loves.
KAWAI DIGITAL PIANO: This is our big family gift which we have been wanting for some time, but saved for Christmas. We want my oldest son to take piano lessons, but this gift is really for our whole family. I took lessons as a youngster and would love to get this skill back. My husband would love to learn and eventually the little one will as well. Learning music is so good for children’s brains and it is also wonderful for adult brains that do not get nearly enough healthy stimulation. I think we need to find something for our fingers that amounts to a little more than swiping a piece of glass. My husband did research up the wazoo and deems this to be the best keyboard for the price.
This is our very first debt-free Christmas and I am committed to keeping it that way. So far we are on track. Hopefully I will get a small bonus, as I usually do, and it will feel amazing to bank it instead of sending it to American Express. Screw you American Express! And Merry Christmas to me.
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