8 Gifts To NEVER Buy Another Mom’s Child*

8 Gifts To NEVER Buy Another Mom’s Child*

ScienceofParenthood.com - 8 Gifts to NEVER Buy Another Mom's ChildThis weekend Stewart and I will be celebrating our son’s eighth birthday. And while the kiddo is giddily counting down the days until he is finally another year older, for me, his birthday comes with a certain measure of dread. For even more than the thought of hosting 20 third-graders hopped up on sugar and determined to wreak as much havoc as humanly possible, I dread the birthday gifts they’ll leave behind for my son when they go.

Over the years, I’ve learned that kids’ gifts generally fall into three broad categories:

* Something the kid will hate

* Something the kid will love

* Something the kid will love … but that will earn you the stink-eye on the playground and ensure that you are forever blackballed from the cool moms drink-a-thons.

So, as a public service to moms everywhere, I’ve rounded up the absolute worst offenders in the birthday gift-giving and party-favor department — though these rules hold true for any other occasion that requires the giving of gifts.

If you want to keep your mom friends — and good ones are sooo hard to find — under no circumstances should you EVER give the child of a fellow mom ANY of these eight Producers Of Hell On Earth. And if you’re ever tempted to do so, just remember that eventually your kid will have a birthday party — and payback is likely to be deafeningly loud, ridiculously sticky and/or unable to be removed from upholstery despite repeated professional cleanings.

The verboten list includes:

Anything that makes the ears bleed. Remember Spinal Tap (“This one goes to 11”)? Any gift whose decibel level makes an Ozzy Ozbourne concert seem like the Quiet Zone is not the stuff of gift bags. And this goes DOUBLE for those toys whose Off buttons are cunningly hidden inside a panel that requires a specific screwdriver not typically found in a standard tool-kit to access. I used to wonder why one veteran mom (grandmom, actually) persisted in giving my son board-books and wooden puzzles that made every kind of siren noise, engine whine and construction clang known to humankind … until I realized she wore a hearing aid. If a mom will require a cochlear implant after prolonged exposure to a given toy, for the love of all that’s good and holy, leave that fucking thing on the shelf.

Anything whose repetition will land you a suite in the Rubber Room Hotel. A subset of the Toys That Make The Ears Bleed category, these kinds of toys loudly tootle out songs that you cannot get out of your head with an ice pick — though after a few rounds you will desperately want to try. Give a kid a gift that plays the synth-pop version of It’s A Small World on an endless loop, and no jury of her peers will convict that kid’s mom for what she will do to you once she hunts you down.

Anything that makes Chucky look like a cuddly Cabbage Patch doll. Like the pink pig one of my husband’s aunts gave my son one Christmas. This little piggie, which came dressed in a glittery red Santa suit and oinked out Jingle Bells when you pulled its tail, looked like the result of a Deliverance/Amityville Horror mashup. And it went from the gift bag right into the garbage bag.

Anything that Daddy will think is HIS. These gifts usually come with a remote controller. Or they fly. Or they have a remote control gizmo that makes something fly. And while this SOUNDS like a great gift idea, what happens when Dad spies the RC Anything nestled in the tissue paper is that his Inner Child jumps out and grabs it. Your child will never see it again.

Anything requiring Mom’s participation. As any working mom will tell you, this is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Mom needs toys and projects that will captivate her kids so she can work in peace. NOT toys that require her to read instructions and mix stuff together while her kid sits next to her playing Minecraft till everything is set up. Or toys that require her to jump up from her desk every five minutes because “I need help, Mommy.”  If a kid can’t take it out of the box and immediately start entertaining himself, preferably for hours, it’s a no go.

Anything Living. My friend Tina’s twin girls once left a birthday party with a pair of goldfish in a favor bag. G-O-L-D-F-I-S-H. And not the fluorescent baked kind either. WTF??? Sending a kid home with a living goldfish in a bag isn’t gifting a child with her first pet. It’s saddling a Mom with the obligation to race out and find replacement fish every few days when the darn things inevitably get scooped up by the Great Fish Net in the Sky. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened to us yet, but I’m floating a rumor that I’m allergic to goldfish, just in case.

Anything that comes with a bazillion little tiny pieces that will inevitably scatter throughout the house. This was my bad, fellow moms. Learn from my mistakes. Back in our nursery school days, I actually did buy a little girl in my son’s class a jewelry-making set because what little girl doesn’t want to deck herself out in lots and lots of jewelry? Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the little girl’s father has a fucking doctorate in OCD. That is, until I got their note “thanking” me for such a “thoughtful” gift … “all 800 pieces of it.” The other thing I’d forgotten is that the little girl’s mom is an FBI agent. She knows my whereabouts. And has a gun. Oops.

Anything that involves glitter, glue, dye or any combination thereof. Proof that karma is a bitch, the same year I gave that little girl’s dad an Anxiety Attack In A Jewelry Box, my two-year-old came home from a classroom birthday party with a favor bag containing a bottle of red glitter glue and one of those paddles with a ball attached to an elastic band. Glitter and glue are two items that should never be anywhere near a two-year-old. It’s been six years, and I’m still looking for THAT mom so I can smack her with her own paddle.

* If you want her to EVER speak to you again. 

The “season of giving” is just around the corner. So, if you liked this post, you’ll LOVE the one about my OCD aka Obsessive Christmas Tree Disorder!


Like Science of Parenthood on Facebook!


A version of this story originally appeared on Lifescript’s Health Bistro blog.


(Visited 1,849 times, 2 visits today)

Never miss a post!


  1. You should add to this list any item that has 4000 accessories and follow up items that YOU then have to buy at a later date. American Girl comes to mind. “But I got the doll at a yard sale, it was only $20!” – yes, but now I have to fight with my kid over why we can NOT buy her $40 outfits, $25 pets, and spend more money to get HER hair done than MINE!
    The Next Step recently posted…Priceless Mom Moments: Sharing, Caring, and Private PartsMy Profile

    • Norine Dworkin-McDaniel :

      OMG, YES! When I hear my mom friends with girls talk, I thank the Universe that I only have to deal with Legos.

  2. Ha! I love this list. My daughter just turned 7 and we didn’t have a party so we were safe. THIS year. :)

    I’m popping over from the women of midlife on FB and wanted to let you know I’m definitely going to share. Hope the party is amazing and the gifts are easy on you!!
    Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered) recently posted…Depression is real. #DayOfLightMy Profile

  3. I agree…quite a comprehensive list! I try to steer away from patented gender-driven toys as well. But that’s just me.
    Walker Thornton recently posted…Looking for a Relationship When You’re Over 60My Profile

    • Norine Dworkin-McDaniel :

      Thank you! I really tried to do the gender neutral toy thing when my son was younger. But it didn’t matter. That stuff is hardwired. I swore I’d be the mom whose kid didn’t play with toy guns. Yeah, right. After I watched him turn a pink fairy wand with glitter and feathers into a machine gun, I gave up. Lost cause. :)

  4. This post should be copied and put into every birthday invitation and Christmas card…anything written that may require gift giving. I have a closet chock full of things that people have gotten my kids that will soon be on the block at a garage sale. I see no reason why I should not profit from someone else’s inconsiderate choice of gift. Especially the sister in law who does it on purpose!
    Sandy Ramsey recently posted…A Split SecondMy Profile

  5. Love this list! The ones with noise, are the ones that always got to me.

  6. I loved this!! Haven’t stopped smiling. Reminded me of the train engine your grandparents lovingly presented to you one birthday. It went whooo, whooo, chugga, chugga!!! It mysteriously stopped working after the first day!!

    • Norine Dworkin-McDaniel :

      Seriously, anything that makes a noise above a whisper needs to come with construction-grade ear plugs. Or better yet, not make it into the gift bag at all!

  7. I feel as if all three of our kids received this list at every birthday and holiday! I still remember hiding a doll from my daughter that looked as if she just hopped from the red light district! As far as pay backs? Ha! Guilty as charged–my husband and I bought a very shiny, rolling, noisy, fire engine for our nephew one year…and yes, we chuckled with wicked glee as we wrapped it!
    Elin Stebbins Waldal recently posted…Attitude: Perspective Day 16My Profile

  8. That about sums it up. I think the deadliest toy ever is the godforsaken FURBY! I remember having nightmares that that thing would crawl into my bed and keep yammering non-stop until my head exploded. I’d definitely prefer a goldfish.

  9. Yes, yes, yes!! Totally agree with every one of your choices! But this is also a great list if you have ever had a sister who had children a few years after you and got your child every version of this list!!! My mom brain is fried and I forgot a few things. Let the buying begin for my nephew!! Lol!!!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted…Easier to Love?My Profile

  10. Terrific list! I think I know much of this implicitly, but it helps to have it spelled out. Before I had my son, I was certainly guilty of giving all of these sorts of gifts at friends’ kids’ parties. I’m especially guilty of getting all sorts of crafty gifts that require adult participation. My son is only two so the one that pisses me off personally is musical toys. You get those stupid songs in your head for days!
    Jessica Smock recently posted…In Defense of Calliou (and All Whiny, Clingy Toddlers Everywhere)My Profile

  11. Perfect! My 3-yr-old has one of those puzzles that make noise that I had to disable because it would keep going off every time we turned on or off a particular lamp. Felt like Poltergeist.
    Liz recently posted…Zoe vs. the Doctor VisitMy Profile

  12. Oh man. That list is perfect. I always get anxiety before my kids’ birthday parties, but it’s mostly about…where the heck am I going to put this giant 3 foot long semi truck that you just got my toddler? type of feelings. :)
    Meredith recently posted…5 Arguments Against Having a Perfectly Organized PlayroomMy Profile

  13. Hilarious list! I’m loathe to admit that when I was a single corporate gal in my 20’s, I had no idea what to buy for a birthday gift for my boss’s 4 year old daughter. So I showed up with a HUGE paint set that must have had about 200 different little pots of paint. The ENORMOUS smile on her daughter’s face was directly proportional to the FROWN on her mother’s face! Yikes!
    Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) recently posted…Am I Exploiting My Neighbor?My Profile

  14. Amen, sister! Why is it that grandmas seem to think they are exempt from following this list? Seriously, your kids were so awful to you when they were little that you need revenge? Your mom tortured you by giving your kids horrendous gifts so you pass it on because you think you earned it? I’m breaking this chain! I vow right now to never give my grandkids annoying toys or anything alive without checking with their parents first. And I will gladly store anything that happens to unexpectedly fall into that category at my house. I swear!
    misssrobin recently posted…A Few Recent ZIA PiecesMy Profile

  15. Amen! It’s the noisy ones and the ones I need to participate in that get me the most. Sometimes I try to convince him he won’t really like it and we should exchange it for something else. That rarely works, but on the off chance….
    JenKehl – My Skewed View recently posted…And When You Start A Conversation In The Middle of A Sentence I Do Not Find it AmusingMy Profile


  1. […] we’ve been featured on BlogHer. A few months ago, BlogHer and Mumsnet in Great Britain had the same post on their home pages on the same day. That was pretty exciting. I (Norine) was also the Lifescript […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge