Friday, December 19, 2008

My Yearly Christmas Problem

My kids, they are nearly impossible to shop for for Christmas.

They aren't like I was as a kid. I was obsessed with Transformers. Each new Autobot or Decepticon may as well have been a crack rock. I'd go through the toy magazines and mark them up with ranked desires, and leave them out for parents or Santa to stumble across. I was, in short, way into getting gifts as a kid. That seems like (and was) childhood selfishness, but looking back now it had an upside for my parents; they had it easy.

Our Alan, though, he asks for very little. Usually it's something like a specific stuffed animal, and trying to get him to list more only sets him firmer in his insistence that that one thing is all he wants.

Brian, well, he usually wants the unattainable (by mankind or by children): a real blue light saber, a purple magic wand (must also be "real"), a red cell phone, a blue camera. This year all he wants is a silver laptop, which he, as a 6-year-old, will not be getting, and a trip to Hawaii, which he, as long as we can come along, will be getting. Fortunately, Brian isn't the sort of kid to be upset by not getting a laptop, though he'd be thrilled to get one.

Between the two of their lists there's nothing to make a big eye-popping scene of under the tree for when they wake up, and so I'm improvising again.

I've got a bunch of stuff they've not asked for from white boards for their bed rooms to Wall-e action figures. I'll be going out and making more guesses tomorrow. I'm pretty sure on some of the stuff I already got, knowing our boys. For example, Alan will go crazy over the punching bag I got, and Brian, I'm sure, will carry around the thesaurus just as he does his tattered dictionary now. But I thought I knew they'd love the parakeets last year too, and now no one in our home likes those noisy, messy and vicious flying vipers. In short I guess, each Christmas I wish my kids were more greedy, or, in Brian's case, had more practicality to his material desires :-).

You know what's odd? It seems, if it's a toy or product advertised for children on the TV, my kids won't care for it. Never have they asked for anything they've seen a commercial for that I can think of, and that's the exact sort of thing that, when I get it for them anyway, it just ends up at the bottom of the toy box. It's not that we don't let them watch tv, either; we're not above using the electronic child mesmerizer every now and then. They just seem to have different tastes from what the commercials are selling.

Anyway, do any other parents out there have some good, alternative gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for child? Quirky things that your kids like that may not be on the radar?

15 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

We've half decided to get them cardboard boxes. That's all they seem to want to play with. They have toys, but then they just strew them around the house and find a cardboard box to play with.

Amanda said...

We implimented a present program this year that involved giving time gifts instead of physical gifts. While we aren't doing it for Christmas, we did it for each of the boys' birthdays and they all loved it. Instead of getting a present, we give them an invitation to go somewhere - to a movie, to the zoo, to breakfast at a pancake place, whatever. Sometimes we gave a little symbolic gift (like sunglasses for going to the zoo, or popcorn for a movie) with the invitation. Over the course of a few weeks, we take them to each place.

The kids, who turned 4, 6, and 8 this year, loved the program so much they begged to do it for Christmas, too, and had a really hard time coming up with physical presents instead of places they wanted to go.

Formerly known as Peter said...

When I was your sons' age, I asked Santa for a wishing star. It was the only thing I wanted that year. I opened my stocking to find one of the stars that goes on top of a Christmas tree. I was so mad! This isn't a wishing star. My parents told me that it was, and insisted that it wasn't. To demonstrate, I held the star, closed my eyes, and said in my gay-as-mickey-mouse voice "I wish I knew what this was." When there was no response, I tossed the star aside. Mysteriously, my mom found a note a few minutes later purporting to be from Santa that explained that it was a wishing star. I was very excited and exclaimed, "It IS a wishing star!" And then I proceeded to again toss it aside and look for more presents.

What can I say?

Formerly known as Peter said...

sorry, ^ "my parents told me it was, and I insisted that it wasn't"

Java said...

Even though you might be able to get them all sorts of toys and stuff, I recommend you resist the urge. These guys seem to be of the "less is more" school when it comes to gifts. More power to them!!

Alternately, Google "educational toys" and have a blast.

BigRedHammer said...

I recommend a digital camera. You can get good cameras with the basic features and they don't cost that much. It encourages creativity and you get awesome memories too. (Is it obvious I work at Circuit City?) It could also end up as something they never use too.

kevin said...

Funny you mention parakeets.

In Brazil, a parakeet made its way into the house. I ducked for cover under the table as it wizzed past my head into the bathroom. My companion didn't notice it and thought I was insane. Well, he was proven wrong when, 10 minutes later, the thing flew out of the bathroom and hovered over his head. Well naturally, he screamed like a baby and dove under our table. At this point our neighbors thought we were insane, but things calmed down as the bird flew into our bedroom. I put it in a shoe box and had the little kids that lived in the first floor of our house to come outside. I opened the box, the bird flew away, and the kids screamed with delight.

So maybe having a parakeet doesn't make a kid as happy as releasing a parakeet. I'm sure there is something deeply philosophic about that...

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

Refrigerator boxes and/or other large boxes, tape, scissors and markers sounds like an awesome gift to me. And maybe a little glitter.

Beth said...

I always go for raw materials, clay (play doh, real clay, sculpy), colored pencils, paint (finger, water, acrylic), etc. Then I add something that compliments it like tools for clay, or paper for the type of paint.

This year a couple kids in the family are getting a how to draw animals, how to draw creatures kits that walk the kids step by step through drawing various beings.

J G-W said...

Weird, but our foster son has expressed pretty intense anxiety about Christmas this year. Venting our pent-up parental hunger all these years, we're about to shower him with wonderful presents (mostly what he's told us he wants). But we've insisted on keeping what he's getting a secret until the big day. He told me he can't stand the secrecy, mainly because he's afraid of big disappointment on Christmas....

Of course, the last two Christmases were spent in a group home, and three Christmases ago was shortly after his father died... So I have some idea where all this anxiety is coming from...

C. L. Hanson said...

My little brother was obsessed with transformers too. He had a great collection!

playasinmar said...

correct answer: Two Nintendo DSs

Scot said...

Kengo: "We've half decided to get them cardboard boxes. "

I fear we are just getting out of that phase... Except maybe if I could get my hands on a refrigerator box. I think I'd even play with that for a while.

Amanda: "We implimented a present program this year that involved giving time gifts instead of physical gifts"

That's an adorable idea; consider it stolen.

FKA Peter: "I was very excited and exclaimed, "It IS a wishing star!" And then I proceeded to again toss it aside and look for more presents."

LOL That's adorable.

Java "These guys seem to be of the "less is more" school when it comes to gifts. More power to them!!"

I hear ya. That's why I like Amanda's idea. I just wish it'd take up more space in the stockings and under the tree :-).

Scot said...

B.R.H. "I recommend a digital camera. "

We did get a cheap one last year. Brian broke that gift quite quickly, though; pulled the batter cover off trying to replace them :-). Maybe they have child proof cameras now?

Kevin "Funny you mention parakeets.... ....Well naturally, he screamed like a baby and dove under our table."

As well he should have. We have one parakeet that will go after your fingers if you get too close.

Craig "Refrigerator boxes and/or other large boxes, tape, scissors and markers sounds like an awesome gift to me. And maybe a little glitter."

Hey, I just said Refrigerator box! But glitter... that's just what They'd expect of our family.

Beth "Then I add something that compliments it like tools for clay, or paper for the type of paint."

Ooo, I like the clay idea. They have play doe, but I'm thinking a huge chunk of some sort of professional clay that we can fire in the oven.

Scot said...

J "Venting our pent-up parental hunger all these years, we're about to shower him with wonderful presents (mostly what he's told us he wants)."

I know the feeling. We'll probably both be up a 4 in the morning "accidentally" making loud noises with the camcorder in hand.

"So I have some idea where all this anxiety is coming from..."

J, I'm sure it will go great. The world is blessed and I'm sure your son is blessed in that this Christmas won't be like another for any of the people in your home. I'll be thinking of your family Christmas morning.

C.L. "He had a great collection!"

I sold all mine at a garage sale... Sad...

playa "correct answer: Two Nintendo DSs"

Well we have one. But yeah, that's kind of like a negative gift with twins.