Experienced aunt advises on five gifts NOT to give your kids this festive season

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Follow these tips to avoid tears and tantrums
Follow these tips to avoid tears and tantrums

The holidays are around the corner, and that means expectations are high, the kids have their lists ready to send to Santa and, for parents, the pressure is on. 

In my experience as an aunt of energetic young boys, no parent wants the festive season to end in tears and tantrums because their child doesn't like their gift, nor do they want to deal with having to confiscate it after it brings more vexation than joy.

So here are five gifts not to give kids this festive season, to avoid heartbreak and headaches, whether they're your own, your nieces and nephews, friend's kids or otherwise on your Christmas list. 

1. Anything noisy (or catchy)

I've learned the hard way that children barely get tired of listening to the same sounds over and over again.

I still get flashbacks to the year my niece got a musical Barbie cellphone and the song "Barbie Girl" woke me up promptly every morning.

So it is advisable to stay away from anything loud, repetitive or with a catchy tune.

This includes most instruments (such as drum sets), musical toys and devices, crying baby dolls and of course, toy megaphones are out of the question.

Though these seem like fun, educational toys, I've learned that they may quickly become the soundtrack to every parent's nightmares if gifted without clearly understood rules and boundaries.

READ | Carol Ofori shares the six gifts your child will love this festive season

2. Anything messy, sticky and difficult to clean

Unless you have a designated play area free from valuable furniture, unsuspectingly messy gifts can become difficult to keep cleaning up after. 

This is why it is best to stay away from toys that are sticky, messy, or difficult to clean, such as glitter, beads, play dough, kinetic sand or paint.

3. Gifts that require parental assistance

Craft kits and science sets are great for interactive, creative play. 

However, if a lot of parental assistance is required, this can be frustrating for children who are constantly being told "not now" and time-consuming for parents (and aunts) who would have to provide constant guidance.

ALSO READ | Five pro tips to avoiding a Black Friday frenzy

4. Sweet treats 

A box of chocolates or a jar of sweets seems like a simple-enough, budget-friendly last-minute gift, but it can also be a recipe for disaster. 

Children lack impulse control and would have to be monitored so as to avoid eating it all in one go and getting sick.

My cousins and I have awful memories of scoffing an entire box of turkish delights on Christmas eve and nursing stomach aches, headaches and nausea until Boxing Day.

On the other hand, the younger of the cousins had to be comforted when they realised they had eaten their gift and all that was left was the box.

Either way, I think it's safe to leave the sweet treats (and the uncontrollable sugar rush) for dessert.

5. Anything dangerous 

Besides plastic swords and pellet guns, many toys can be unsuspecting safety hazards that parents should be aware of. For example, toys that have sharp edges or small pieces that can be swallowed also pose a safety risk.

When in doubt, parents should search for the age guide on the boxes and labels of all toys and gifts to see if the toy is age-appropriate.


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