What I’m Not Buying My Daughter for Christmas

This week I’ve been trying to decide what to get my 2 daughters–ages 4 and 6–for Christmas.  I’m still pondering what to get them, but I already know what won’t be under the tree.

1. Bratz, Monster High, or Hannah Montana anything. But if you’ve been reading this blog for more than 5 minutes, you already knew that.

2.  Girls’ Legos. Classic Legos are versatile, and pretty gender-neutral.  There’s no reason to buy the lame just-for-girls Belville line, with its specialized puppy and pony pieces.  These sets lack the versatility that makes Legos such a great toy.

The pink brick box filled with classic Lego bricks is a better choice.  We have two pink tubs at my house, but my 8-year-old boy loves Legos, too, and at my house all the pieces just get mixed in together.  Now there are pink bricks in the mix.

A caveat:  I don’t like the message the pink box sends in the toy store aisle:  if pink bricks are for girls, then are the other Legos for boys?  That’s not a message I want my daughter to get.  I think this issue largely disappears once you get the pink tub out of the toy store aisle and into your home, but it may be worth discussing with your daughter.

3.  Disney Princess anything. As you may remember, I am not wild about the whole Disney Princess thing.  My daughters haven’t even seen any of the Disney movies–we’ve tried, but they always ask me to turn them off at the first hint of a scary plotline (which means 5 minutes into the movie!)  My girls love to play dress up, but I’m uneasy with the not-so-great quality and hyper-aggressive marketing of the Disney Princess lines.

My 4-year-old has requested a “princess kit”, which she informs me consists of a princess crown and a pretty dress.  Now that, I can do.  But it’s not coming from Disney.  I’d think about sewing something myself; dress-up clothes are wonderful handmade gifts because you can get whatever you want and the quality is excellent.  But my project quota is full, so I’m eyeing this princess dress-up set from Melissa & Doug.

4.  Anything Dora. Because….well, because she drives me crazy.

What about you?  What are you not buying your kids for Christmas?

photo credit: soapylovedeb

Comments

  1. says

    I have no kids, but AMEN and AMEN to ALL of your NO WAY gifts. I spent hours as a kid playing outside in a playhouse made out of a sheet that my mom and I drew and then attached to nails around the outside of my wooden swing set – it was magical, cheap, and perfect. Dress up? Mom’s no-longer-worn skirts from the 70’s were just fine. Barbie’s weren’t allowed in our house (by the way, while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade we were both appalled by an ad that played – that Barbie was a ROLE MODEL!!), but I had a real, china-head/hands/feet doll and then one of the original American Girl dolls.

    Less is more. Sounds like you’re on the right track to me! :-)

  2. Plop says

    As a kid, I had (and still have) fairly not girl-centered interests. It thought Barbie where useless but i played tons of Lego (and PlayMobil, great toys =D ) !
    Somehow, i felt that i was supposed to like a barbie, interest myself in fashion and all this crap, because i hated the girl lego line of that time. It was all horses, and pink and pastel shades, and umbrellas, and… Gasp !

    I’ve built thousands of home, of space ships, of castels and imagined life for princesses, but just the idea of having me stick to something because it was how it was supposed to be made me angry.

    Now i realize that i’m just stubborn :P

    But i still can’t appreciate too oriented legos. It’s like they are stealing something from the very nature of legos.

  3. Kim says

    I know my opinion will not be popular. I don’t know about the other toys on your list because I don’t really know what they are but if I had a girl I wouldn’t take issue with pink legos like you do.

    First, let me say I only have boys so I have never had to deal with the disney princess issue. With my first son, however, everyone was making a big deal out of the Ninja Turtles (yes it was a long time ago) and so I kept my son away from them. But everyone else had them and it did feel a little mean. Truthfully, while you could make a good argument against the Turtles, I know, they wouldn’t have made a bit of difference in who my son was then or who he is now. (Now, if my son had tended to be hyper and overly physical to start with, then these toys may have played into that but he wasn’t and those toys would not have changed that.)

    As for colours, when my kids were little, pink was OK for boys (it was my youngest son’s favourite colour, but purple was the forbidden colour. So I have been avoiding purple for years and this week my youngest son went out and purchased a purple dress shirt (his last one was pink). So kids preferences and attitudes about colour change too.

    I think, the worst influences on my sons have been other people, not television, not music, not toys but people. But I am only speaking for my family.

    • Maria says

      When my 25 year old nephew got married last year, he gave his groomsmen ninja turtle socks! (Needless to say, they have all turned out to be nice, nonviolent young men, lol.)

      Ultimately I think we all have certain things we can’t stand, and sometimes have to think about whether want we say no to something because we don’t like it or because we think it really is harmful.

  4. says

    My husband has had several nightmares about Dora for some reason so she is not allowed in our home by his decree.

    My kids are still too young to ask for much of anything so I’m enjoying what I think will probably be our last commercial free Christmas. My oldest is 3 and thinks all holidays mean candy. He isn’t clued in to the toy thing yet.

  5. says

    I like your list! I agree with all of it.

    About pink Legos, I think there are two possible harmful beliefs: “Only the pink Legos are for girls,” and, “The pink Legos are not for boys.” My son and his father are huge Lego nuts and picked up some pink ones at some point just because they like to have the widest possible variety of colors. If you are building a tropical town, for example, pink, yellow, lime green, and white are the appropriate house colors. My son is very indignant about the idea that a particular color (maybe two colors, if you count purple) is reserved for girls, while boys don’t have any color that girls aren’t “allowed” to wear. At the moment he has a fuchsia toothbrush with butterflies on it, which I quite agree is nicer than the alternative choice of olive green with sports balls. It really annoys us when the ONLY choices are obviously boy/girl, with no neutral option.

    About the princess kit, check thrift stores! My mom got me some awesome sequined cocktail dresses (which were calf-length and not at all form-fitting on my 6-year-old self), absurdly high-heeled shoes, and rhinestone jewelry for just a couple dollars when I was in a royal phase. :-)

    My son hasn’t been much interested in Dora, but we did battle with the Teletubbies a few years ago, and I can’t stand SpongeBob–ugh, those staring eyes!! I also detest Hannah Montana and the many similar Disney Channel shows about spoiled kids on stupid escapades.

    The primary thing I’m not buying him this year is any type of portable computer. I got an iPad this fall, and his dad picked up a used iPod Touch, and Nicholas is so thrilled with both that we’ve found it difficult to stick to his screen-time limits–the problem would be a zillion times worse if he had his OWN device!

  6. says

    Anything that screams “I’m a Christmas present” is staying at the store. ;) I cannot stand toys whose sole purpose is for someone to buy as a present. Oh, and I cannot stand toys (dolls in particular) that move, especially by their own accord.

  7. Katie says

    Just a thought on sewing the dress. You may be able to just shorten a formal gown either found in your own closet or picked up second hand for less headache and not a lot of cost. When I worked at a daycare the girls loved those dresses for play clothes.

  8. Jenny says

    I’m not buying my son the $300 train set that he is kind enough not to ask for because it is too expensive. Sadly, he is doing us a favor and asking Santa instead. Last year Santa already let him down a bit by buying a smaller version of the star wars ship he was asking for. He’s a sweet little boy so he never said anything til this year, but I knew he wouldn’t be thrilled, it just didn’t come in the jumbo size his older freind had it in anymore. Now, he’s asking SANTA for this wildly expensive gift and he’s told me he’s going to be real specific when he sees the big guy so there’s no confusion this year. We’re barely making the bills, which of course he doesn’t know. He knows Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, but he doesn’t know yet that Santa doesn’t exist and we don’t want to ruin it for him. He’s 7 so we don’t have much longer for him to believe. So, he won’t be getting that. Don’t know what he will be getting. Have no clue.

    • says

      to Jenny-
      I’m just thinking, as I read your comment, that your child will already be experiencing some disappointment with Santa, because he is old enough to begin wondering why Santa is not getting him any present he asks for. So now may be a good time to let him know that Santa is ‘pretend.’ While I think pretending about Santa is fun and harmless, I’m not sure I understand why it is very important for kids to believe he is real for as late into their childhood as possible. After all, we don’t teach our children to believe in fairies, unicorns, mermaids or Star Wars characters as realities. At our house we have fun pretending that Santa is going to come, and I think our Christmas is just as delightful without the actual BELIEF in him.

      As you said, you have taught your son that the real meaning of Christmas is the Saviour’s birth. Perhaps, your son is showing you that he is mature enough to grasp what is really REAL and what is pretend. He may grow to place more focus on the real event of Jesus birth, once he is released from believing in a Santa alongside a baby Jesus (which may be confusing- how are they connected?).
      These are just my thoughts, and I hope I shared them with utmost respect for you and your family.

      • Kimberly says

        My husband and I had such a hard time with Santa. We are on a budget and tend to have just a few presents under the tree… while friends/family may have alot more. How do you explain the inequality? We just introduced santa as a fun, fuctional character. I read stories about St. Nicholas, but emphasized that he is dead now. My kids understand the real meaning of Christmas, and they feel “grown-up” knowing the truth. We also remind them not to tell other kids the truth…
        That could be devastating!
        Great list– great post! ;)

  9. says

    I love your “naughty toy list.”
    When my kids were little, one of the BEST toys we ever bought them were the play silks from http://www.magiccabin.com/ It was our fav store…although a bit pricey. They used those silks for years and for everything.
    I also made the waldorf dolls for them and they LOVED them and use them to this day. (ages 8 and 12)
    My daughters were petrified of the disney movies for years…I think my oldest saw Snow White at 12. :)
    Great list. Merry hunting for the perfect toy!
    Sarah

  10. says

    I just hopped over after reading your tweet that you were getting some flack from a parenting forum for this post.

    I grew up as a missionary kid, and my parents tried for us to spend most Christmases with the whole extended family {we lived in Haiti so closer than some overseas missionaries}. Well, upon leaving to go back to Haiti, we would have to chose one or two of the new toys that we had been gifted and be satisfied to play with the others when we would come back to the States for summer break.

    It’s funny because I honestly do not even remember those times but my grandmother and aunts do and they felt so sorry for us. But I left no scar or bad memory in my heart at all. You see…the kids I lived around most of the year had WAY less than me…so I guess having the “coolest” or “most popular” thing didn’t really seem like a big deal there.

    I hope this encourages you that God knew that your kids would be….well….YOUR kids…and that He gives you the wisdom in these decisions what is best for them and one day….they will be grateful for the time and care you put into making the best ones for them.

    I know that I am with my parents!!

    • Anne says

      Thanks, Lindsey! What an interesting perspective, too. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope one day my daughters (and sons, too!) feel the same way about me that you feel about your parents.

      • says

        Well…we probably won’t be buying the children or each other presents at Christmas. Last year they each got one, but this year is even tighter. We purchased a home out of necessity and it has been a huge blessing but it does take all we have at the moment to keep it. We aren’t on any welfare or assistance…the Lord sees that our needs are meet and that is a huge blessing. But honestly…it’s hard to think about what to give…since I’m not doing any. I’d never buy something with Bratz in the name…but the other things don’t bother me much. I’d prefer one princess doll over 10 dollar store trinkets anyday. Those seem to come in from relatives and are broke the next day. :/

    • Stefanie says

      Lindsay – Thanks so much for your comment. It was an encouragement to me. We are a missionary family living in India, & this is our first Christmas away from family in the US. Our girls definitely have more material things than anyone else around us, but I worry that the time spent away from family will be a hurt that they will carry with them for a long time. It’s so encouraging to hear from other grown MKs. Thanks again for sharing! :)

      • says

        Man! So many thoughts are running through my brain as I think about my childhood and your concerns about your girls.

        Honestly, I cried every single time I had to say goodbye to family. I was/am a sensitive soul and family was/is everything to me. I used to ask my parents {when I was a teenager} why God had to call “our family.” As a little girl, I would hold my grandmother’s hand and trudge through the airport saying, “I don’t want to go, Granny.” During adolescence, I would spend time “in mourning” for about 3-4 days when we would return to Haiti each time.

        And then one day I was 16….and I had a choice given to me by my parents to live with my aunt my senior year in the US and graduate there. It was the hardest decision of my life at that age and they didn’t make it for me…they helped me process of course….but ultimately it was my choice.

        Suddenly Haiti meant the world me and I wondered how I could ever leave. I ultimately did for my education and long term college plans but that year with my aunt, I cried often because I missed my parents…and I missed my “home” …. Haiti!

        I do believe that my relationships with family members are different because of living far away….I didn’t have all the American and day-to-day memories that they have with each other. Being a third culture kid, after awhile, you can’t totally relate to all your relatives, and if people are not open minded, they never really will. However, for others, our relationships deepened over the years.

        Also, God gave us “missionary family.” My “favorite” grandmother is actually not my biological one but a fellow missionary with my parents. I know that might sound hard/harsh for a grandmother to hear but that goes back to the insecurities and/or lack of world view that some of my relatives have/had including my grandparents. But the way I look at it is that God gave me a grandmother who “gets” me….in a whole different way.

        I know this is convoluted and I hope this does not discourage you at all. Being an MK/3rd culture kid is hard and amazing….and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My sister feels the same way and in fact did her final masters thesis in counseling on the topic. The closeness we have to our parents is unreal…and that is AMAZING for us!

        I am happy to chat any more about this if you would ever want to! MKs are an unique breed. In college…we always “found” each other and it was always special…deep understanding.

        God bless you guys in India! I spent a month there when I was 19 and fell in love with the people!

        • says

          Lyndsey,
          Thank you so much for your response! It wasn’t convoluted or discouraging at all! Honestly, everything you mentioned as being a struggle for you, they are things that I pray about for our girls all the time. Our girls are still really young (7, 5, & 3 year old twins :)), but I know growing up on the mission field comes with its own set of struggles and hurts. I so desperately want to shield them from the pain (I’ve asked the Lord myself at times why He called our family), but I know that the Lord doesn’t waste anything. I’m trusting Him to use it all for their good & for His glory. Thank you so much for taking the time to share a little bit of your story with me. It was a privilege and an encouragement to read it. I would say most of the MK’s we’ve met are such amazing, well adjusted, and mature young people. We pray the same for our girls as they get older. Thanks again for writing me back, and many many blessings to you in 2015!

  11. Julie says

    I agree with the whole list. While I am ok with princess play, I will not buy anything Disney themed for my daughter, and never have. My resolve was cemented when she came to me crying because her hair “isn’t yellow like Cinderella’s.” I am not at all ok with pressure being put on little girls, by themselves or by others, to look a certain way.

    I’m sorry to hear that other people are being critical and saying such things on whatever parenting forum that may be. I guess they can go ahead and feel sorry for my daughter, too ;-)

  12. says

    As a mom of three girls and a grandma to a boy and girl, I wholeheartedly agree with you (Dora is even worse in German trying to “teach” toddler English that is mostly wrong aaaarggghh!!!).

    When I was a little girl in the early 70s, I didn’t even really know about Disney princesses (I think my mom took me to see Snow White and I spent all the time under cinema seats investigating how they flipped up and down… plus the witch scared me!) but I spent hours drawing big crinoline princesses and embellishing their dresses and loved my fairy story and nursery rhyme books with lovely illustrations that fired my romantic imagination. While my daughters had access to the Disney paraphernalia, none of them were keen at all. We have traditions around the year that gave them the opportunity for dress-up – gold paper crowns are everywhere here on January 6th (3 Kings Day) and carneval in February occasionally demanded a princess dress – my granny altered an old “going dancing” dress for me to dress up in; I promptly tripped on it and cut my hand!! – but more often, they wanted to be like other kids: a bee, a cat (for years and years, that costume was so worth making!), a cowboy, a witch and when they got to 9/10, they all wanted to be a “punk”, so funny!! Oh, and one year, a tube of toothpaste?!! My youngest adored an Ikea outfit for a parrot – cap with beak, gloves with claws and a tail to fix round the waist, all in bright coloured velvet… and the corresponding face paint was always popular.

    As for Lego, I inherited some from my cousin and we used to build houses or cars or anything, really, it was totally neutral stuff, red/white/yellow/blue with green boards to use as a base, and a few windows. By the time my oldest was born, it was already being sold more specifically for certain models, often cars/space/monsters, so I didn’t bother much with it and none of the girls was impressed. They preferred Playmobil so we accumulated quite a bit of that, depending on their interests, which varied from simple farm animals to begin with, through zoo animals, hospitals (!), police, circus animals, mediaeval jousting and native Americans… I have kept it for the grandchildren, since it covers so much and provides so many hours of entertainment. While they were small, I removed the tiniest pieces, though. I also use a Playmobil nativity to introduce the kids to the Christmas story.

    Now I have great difficulty finding anything to buy my grandchildren, since all of the things I see in the stores are simply junk: merchandising galore, non-gender-neutral, too much pretend and no reality, plastic plastic plastic, it’s really depressing. There is nothing there that they need and although I think the cost is prohibitive, I really am considering getting a set of play-silks, they sound brilliant and versatile, space-saving and really good for imaginative play. Sigh.

  13. says

    My seven year old daughter LOVES the Lego Friends sets! I’m thrilled because they allow her to be so creative and engineer fabulous designs while being feminine. Don’t worry, she also adores her bow and arrow and art of almost any kind. But we sure love the Lego Friends!

    • Shannon Hancock says

      My girls LOVE their Lego Friends sets as well. It isn’t because they are pink, it is because they are so much more detailed. They always build them “correctly” the first time and then quickly rearrange them how they want, using their imagination and creativity. Not only do they NOT stifle their creativity, they then have all sorts of extra accessories that do NOT come with the other Lego sets and they adore adding the details. My 14-year-old son has been a Lego addict since he was a small child, and he also enjoys helping his sisters with their Lego friends. Sometimes I think we go too far with this whole “pink is bad” thing – sometimes a girl just likes pink. It doesn’t make her weak, or insecure, or someone who thinks she is inferior to males, it just may appeal to her at that age or time. I think that eliminating entire groups of toys because YOU don’t like them actually is doing exactly what you don’t want to promote to your daughters – you’re taking the choice away from them, which sends the message that they aren’t smart enough to pick the “right” toys. :)

  14. Janice says

    I wish that generic Legos existed anymore, but I have not seen those basic tubs in the last couple of years. My three kids are Lego obsessed and the Lego Friends (though probably not my favorite bit of marketing) are far from worthy of a ban in my opinion. I am not familiar with the line that you mentioned in your post, but the Friends line has a little more variety and no pony pieces that I have seen. My daughter does not like the dark themes that are targeted at the boys, so she spends a lot of time building her cafes and boats from the Friends line. Her brothers like those kits too.

  15. Christie says

    I love your post. I’m totally with you on the no Bratz dolls, ever. A few years ago while working as a nurse in a cancer center, an elderly woman was telling me about how she was adopting a family for Christmas. She was telling me about what gifts the kids had asked for, and said “The little girl wants a certain type of doll, I can’t remember what the brand is… It’s like Barbie, if she was a whore” I almost peed my pants because I was laughing so hard, I asked her, is it a Bratz doll? She said, oh yes! That’s it!

    Now every time I see a Bratz doll that’s the immediate first thought that comes into my head!

  16. Jennifer says

    Well this list is pretty much exactly like mine. My husband and I loathe the Disney princess stuff. Actually I love Disney but I refuse to make my child a walking billboard for them. In fact that goes for any animated character. My two year old doesn’t have a single stitch of clothing with a cartoon anything on it. Noisy toys and gaudy toys are also on our no way list

  17. says

    Hmm, I see your point on a lot of this, and I thought I’d be the same way before I had a kid. But I’ve found that it’s not very productive to deny my kid an Elsa doll or pink-colored something because of my grown-up, very biased views toward the world at large. Now I think everything is benign until we assign it a power.

    For instance, I can’t imagine telling my daughter she can’t have a Disney toy because I happen to disagree with Disney’s marketing philosophy, but that’s just me.

    I prefer to keep all toys on the same level, never assigning a good or bad designation. A toy is a toy is a toy. Unless, of course, it happens to be a LOUD toy. That’s where I draw the line. My sanity’s at stake. ;-)

      • Maria says

        I don’t think I has to be all or nothing with Santa, and I don’t think you have to flat out tell him Santa is pretend. We talked a lot about how Santa has so many children to bring gifts to that he tries to bring everybody some of the things they want but can’t bring them everything, and sometimes the things he brings are smaller than what he might want. We also talked about how Santa has a lot of helpers and we could be Santa’s helpers to other children. If it’s possible with your budget this year, I always made a point of picking a boy my son’s age from our angel gift tree and church and having him help me pick out a gift. Yes, he started to figure it out from that, but I let him come to his own conclusions about the true meaning of Santa.

        I think I’d look for a less expensive train set and talk it up big time. Maybe something similar to what he wants is on eBay at a better price?

  18. Tracy S. says

    My 17 year old daughter has spent the last week ranting about “design kits” she saw in the toy aisle at Target: Cars for boys (blue box) and clothes for girls (pink box). She said maybe both boys and girls would rather design and decorate houses or robots or anything else! She is planning on studying engineering next year.

    I like your princess kit idea. My oldest daughter got a dress up kit from her grandma for her 7th birthday. Grandma bought 3 or 4 prom dresses at Goodwill and she tacked up big flounces in the hem to make them fit and added elastic to the bodices. Her little sisters eventually inherited the dresses. That is the mark of a good gift.

  19. Traci says

    I popped over from the newsletter. We “do” princesses around here because I prefer them over barbies (although she gets barbies too…I try and buy the more modest ones or ones I find at garage sales), and although she plays with them, she’s not infatuated with them.

    I’m really interested in what kinds of toys you would give to a 5 (girl) and 3 (boy) year old! Any suggestions for imaginative play? Are playmobils worth it? (If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear it!)

    • says

      My daughters got bitten by the Elsa bug last year, and that’s exactly how I felt about it: I’m okay with them playing with them, as long as they’re not obsessed!

      I love open-ended play ideas for 5-year-olds and 3-year-olds: play silks, dress-up clothes, legos or other age-appropriate blocks. We’ve also gotten a ton of mileage out of our train set and play kitchen. There are also some unusual ideas for kids here: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2013/12/10-unusual-gifts-for-kids/

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