Toys That Are Not Fun For Adults…Elementary Edition

I don’t spend much time with elementary school kids.  It’s not a big nanny demographic and my own family is both plus and minus a decade from that age group.  Personally, my top two go-to gifts for the elder munchkins are Legos and magazine subscriptions (especially National Geographic for Kids).  Those are my go-tos because I like all of the parents of elementary school kids whom I know.    


Year after year, this is the present I longed to receive as a moppet.  It topped many lists I wrote to Santa and to relatives.  (I knew there was no way in the tundra my parents would buy it for me.)  While it’s no longer pink, it is still cooking via light bulb…and light bulbs these days produce less heat than past years, so I’m sure the cooking time on brownies is even longer.  The wait time is longer than the average attention span, which sounds like some kind of fire hazard.  My mom’s argument against the Easy Bake Oven was that we had a real kitchen and she’d much rather I just use that.  I suspect anyone to whom you are giving a gift also lives in a home with a kitchen or has access to one.  (And if they don’t, they probably can’t use the Easy Bake Oven much.)  While I am still bummed I never received one of these, I do understand the argument against a brownie bite with a forty minute cook time.







More than meets the eye.  Unfortunately, the pieces are bound to be either less than or more than meets the space into which it is supposed to fit, causing a giant source of frustration.  That frustration often extends to the parent, who also cannot turn Bumblebee back into a car and doesn’t get why they (an adult) are unable to manage a child’s toy.  Relative to the originals of the 1980s, the new round of Transformer toys are poorly made, which also induces nostalgia anger: they just don’t make things like they used to.  While this is being included in the elementary guide, Transformers have moved into the preschool set, where the fingers are less nimble and the frustration point is lower.


Video games can be a great idea, assuming the recipient owns the compatible system.  If they don’t, and want it, you’ve just provided them with an argument for its purchase: they now own a game that looks super fun and was a gift…and it completely useless without the (generally expensive) console.  You already gave them a gift in the game cartridge, so chances are they will look to Mom and/or Dad for that console.


Do you read the recalls?  It all contains lead.  All of it.  “Here’s some lead to put on your flesh, probably near your face” is a very tacky way to celebrate a holiday or birthday.



Really anything that is alive is a bad idea, because the responsible adult is going to be responsible for keeping it alive and the ongoing expense of that responsibility – vet visits, food, toys, etc.  In my opinion, puppies are totally THE BEST (and I desperately want one) but as gifts, they are the domestic worst (possibly overall worst) as they require regular walks and are sometimes a bit destructive until trained.  Regardless of the weather, dogs need to be walked.  Depending on the pup and length of school day, it also might need to be walked while that kiddo is in school.  Don’t get me wrong: Puppies are great; they are just not great gifts.

Bonus: Bad for ALL Ages



Probably most effective with infants, a group naturally born without any team loyalties, but no need to stop until the kidlet tells you that they really can’t stand the Buckeyes.  And yes, I’ve totally done it.  I’ve given a Red Sox hat to the child born of a mixed Red Sox-Yankees marriage; I feel like that babe needed all the help it could get.  So, speaking from experience, while parents may like it if you get them some sort of clothing or bit promoting their team, they tend to not see the humor in their child receiving something emblazoned with the mascot or name of their arch nemesis.  It’s the sort of thing they probably don’t even want in their house, much less on their child.  It’s the sort of thing that might not even make it to the charity box, instead being directly diverted to the trash.  Not only is that wasteful, it also involves your team in a trash – a trash it is probably sharing with dirty diapers and tissues of baby boogers.

Please enjoy your holiday shopping.  Remember it’s a gift to parents to not get the fruit of their loins (looms?) an annoying gift.  However, in certain relationships, I recognize that there is potential for that to be the gift that keeps on giving.



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