The holidays are all about the joy in a child's smile... when she opens the heinously expensive gift she's been pining for. Here are some great gifts for kids that won't result in them shooting their eye out (probably).
Be the uncool aunt who always gives books! Give the child in question copies of your favorites on every holiday, and they'll grow up to be as awesome as you are. Worst case scenario: You'll enjoy thumbing through some children's classics in Borders, and the book will get tossed under the kid's bed. Our recommendation: The Jolly Christmas Postman. It's a good story with cute illustrations, plus every few pages there's an envelope stuffed with pieces of fake mail. It's sure to entertain bookworms and illiterates alike!
Of course, some kids don't take kindly to books as gifts:
Consider yourself warned!
Give the kid the upper hand in every snowball fight with the Flexible Flyer Snow Block. It looks boring, but it's an essential tool for creating snow forts (and it's just $8.42). Add in the book How To Build An Igloo and perhaps a Sno-Baller to make it a full kit. Then sit back and watch the neighborhood kids get pelted with perfectly-formed snowballs.
If you're really cheap and the child is young enough that it will be happy playing with the gift bow, try knitting something. Adults will be impressed and you won't feel as guilty about watching idiotic reality shows if you're keeping your hands busy. If you can't knit, consider a gift from Blabla. Their knit dolls are made of natural fibers by actual humans, and all the critters, from raccoons to billy goats, are ridiculously adorable.
Everyone love Legos, and the Lego Star Wars Death Star is the perfect gift if you're looking to buy a child's love this holiday season. If you don't have $534.99 lying around, go with the Lego Hogwarts Game. Part Lego set and part board game, kids get to build a model of Hogwarts, which includes "moving staircases and secret passages." While playing the game they can "strategically rearrange the rooms to throw opponents off course." Bonus: When the kid who got "thrown off course" freaks out and throws the game across the room, you can just snap it back together.
Sing-A-Ma-Jigs are the Furbys of 2010, except they're way cuter. These stuffed animals jabber, sing songs, and even harmonize with each other (if you collect all 12). The only drawback: There's only so many times you can listen to "Yankee Doodle" before you wind up hiding the Sing-A-Ma-Jig on top of the bookcase.
Of course, a noisy toy is the perfect gift if you hate the kid's parents. Wouldn't your jackass brother-in-law's kids enjoy a drum set, complete with cymbals and a microphone?
When you were little, did you have a cousin who yelled, "That's because I won first place!" every time you pulled "You Won Second Prize In a Beauty Contest" in Monopoly? Sounds like her kids need a magic set. It isn't as obviously annoying as a drum set, but it leads to hours of "Hey Mommy, look at this! Oh wait ... hold on, I'll get it. Mommy, you're not looking!"
Kids today have never been exposed to metal lawn darts or bite-sized Fisher Price Little People, so they probably can't handle a Red Ryder BB Gun. Instead, get them the next best thing: A top of the line Nerf gun.
The Nerf N-Strike Longstrike CS-6 Dart Blaster can fire foam arrows 35 feet and includes a totally necessary targeting scope. According to the product description:
There's even a fold-down bipod to help you steady your aim for those really important shots. Gotta make a quick pop at close range? Removable components rapidly provide one-handed freedom with a pistol-style weapon! In either mode, load up, aim, press the trigger, and watch the darts fly! It's terrific fun with your friends at home or on the job.
Some parents aren't into toy weapons, and admittedly, I rarely felt the need to "make a quick pop at close range" when I was six. However, I can appreciate a well-crafted Nerf toy. Plus, it's good to know that if necessary, adults can borrow the blaster to take out surly underlings at work.