The 10 Best Children’s Toys to Gift the Children of Your Enemies

10 toys that are sure to garner praise from your worst parenting foes

  1. Motion sensing singing toys (including the entire V-Tech product line).
    Do children love these educational, gross motor skill developing, hideously colored toys? Yes. Do they all include lights, sounds, no volume control and a hair-trigger response to motion?  Also, yes. These monstrosities will undoubtedly become your baby’s favorite toy, no matter what the beige wooden block pushers say. Consider this your official welcome into parenthood. You’ve not lived until you’ve heard a robot voice belt out “I am a POWERFUL DUMPTRUCK” every time you walk a little too close to the toy box.

  1. “Science” toys.
    Geodes. Volcanos. Dinosaur bone excavation. Slime making kits. Electrical projects. Kitchen science experiments. Sure, these all sound like great hands-on gifts that will encourage the youngsters in your life to get off screens and develop their hand-brain connections. In reality, they all require way more parental involvement than the age recommendation plastered on the box suggests. You start by helping your kid read the instructions, then you have to source a 9-volt battery, a hammer, white vinegar, a 3 oz cup, electrical tape, and a Philips head screwdriver. Two hours and some tears of frustration later, your child will give up and you’ll be stuck articulating a stegosaurus by yourself at the kitchen table trying to pinpoint the moment where your life went wrong.

  1. Glitter.
    Imagine, if you will, watching your artistic child unwrap their Christmas gift from their well-meaning, single and childless Uncle. Your child squeals with delight as they foist the package into the air. What is it that has them so enamored, you wonder. They turn the face of the package to you and your chest crumples in dread. It’s a rainbow set of fine grain glitter. The herpes of crafts. The unwinnable war. No matter how careful your child is, you will find glitter in your house until they graduate college. You will remember this for decades and plot revenge. Well-meaning Uncles, be forewarned.

4. Floodgate toys.
Here are the most four most aggravating words to ever be slipped into the end of a toy commercial: Each Set Sold Separately. From Calico Critters to Paw Patrol vehicles, these are the potato chips of toys--you can’t have just one. No, once you begin the collection you have opened yourself up a Pandora ’s Box of purchases. And then, as soon as you have devoted an entire wall of the playroom to the invisible residents of Adventure Bay and their canine rescue team, your child will decide Paw Patrol is for babies and now they need every ugly Treasure X monster in existence.

  1. Musical Instruments
    Drum kits and keyboards might immediately spring to mind, but thankfully these bigger ticket items are rarely gifted without parental approval. What you really need to look out for are the smaller, more dangerous gateway instruments: recorders, harmonicas, karaoke machines, microphones, whistles. If you give a child a whistle on purpose, you deserve to experience an entire year of slightly unripe fruit. You know who never needs help making a shrill noise meant to alert adults to danger? Children.

  1. Kinetic Sand, Play Doh, Slime and other substances.
    You are only allowed to gift my children these items if you have also gifted me a year of weekly maid service and six-month supply of a high-dollar buttery chardonnay.

  1. Large play-sets
    Of course I’m thrilled with the four foot dollhouse and the 10-track Hot Wheels play-set that now reside in my living room because there’s nowhere else to put them. I’m certainly not anxious every time I walk in the door because it feels like toys are slowly expanding into every single space in my house, threatening to smoother me in my sleep like some kind of battery-operated version of The Blob. If you give my child a toy in a box as tall as they are, we are now in a fight.

  1. Yellies
    These are cute little fluffy animal-adjacent toys that move toward motion. The louder you yell, the faster they go. I’m serious. That’s their whole thing. Were there any parents in the boardroom at Hasbro when they green-lit these? I was hopeful that the pandemic might have killed them along with any lingering notions I had about being a teacher, but alas, they’re still on the market. If you really hate a parent, get them a toy that requires yelling to make it work.

  1. Mail-order kits (Kiwi Crate, etc.)
    If you’ve ever thought, “You know what would be great? Getting a tantrum in the mail once a month,” these kits are for you. I admit, the idea of a consumable craft/science/engineering project showing up monthly to delight your child sounds great. However, much like the aforementioned science toys, they require more parental involvement than desired. Plus, they are guaranteed to show up on the one day a week you have something else to do and your child will go bananas and insist they need to make a Ferris wheel out of cardboard right this instant. Now you have a paper cut and you’re twenty minutes late to a half-hour gymnastics lesson. 

  1. Sound puzzles
    These puzzles are light activated, making a noise every time small fingers successfully insert the right farm animal or vehicle in the correct space. Sounds fun, right? Sure. Until you lose one of the pieces or forget to finish the puzzle. You’ll be reminded of your error when your child is finally asleep. As you slowly and quietly try to turn off the light to sneak out of his room you’re accosted by a cacophony of farm animal noses and steam engine’s whistles. Enjoy another 20 minutes of bedtime purgatory, curtesy of Melissa & Doug.