Yesterday I posted "ten gift ideas for kids least likely to end up in landfill" and I promised today I would post my list of some of the worst gifts I've observed. Of course all these gifts were well-intended; the generous gifters just never saw what happened after the gift was received, but as the mom, I got to manage the consequences. And in most cases they were NOT much fun.
Here are gifts to avoid - unless you dislike the recipients, perhaps.
1. Any young children’s toy with lots of pieces and no container. These quickly drive parents nuts. The pieces get all over the house, and you wind up going out and buying plastic bins just to store the damn pieces, which you quickly grow to loathe.
2. Gift certificates: they might seem perfect but turn out to be pain in the neck.
- They require a parent to schlep the kid to the store - which is rarely convenient. Some are electronic, which is a better bet, but still tricky and often requires parental assistance and supervision.
- Gift cards are easily lost - they're little. I can't tell you how many times we had to go through a big stack of cards to fish out the accidentally discarded certificate.
- Worst is that store gift cards are a big ripoff, since they gradually lose their face value and eventually expire altogether (though some consumer laws are being passed to address this).
- And if you actually make it to the store with the card, the chosen gift never costs just the amount of the gift certificate, so you must either add to it, or hold on to a gift certificate with $2.13 balance which hangs around for years, cluttering up your life!
4.Single shares of stock - by far the all time best-intended and most irritating gifts my kids received. They were given by an dear elderly gentleman who wanted to teach them about investing, a worthy goal indeed. (Though each did this in school with the Stock Market Game in about 5th grade.) He gave each kid three single shares: 1 of Disney, 1 of CocaCola, and 1 of Johnson and Johnson. I remember very clearly because each one generated quarterly statements, annual reports, tax statements, and miniscule dividend checks! And when they wanted to sell them, we discovered the transaction costs exceeded the worth of each stock. We finally donated them to charities, which in itself generated paperwork. Great intention, terrible consequences!
5. Likewise, US Savings Bonds are not child-friendly, at least for children old enough to understand numbers. It is hard to explain to a kid that a $50 savings bond is worth $25, and will only be worth $50 in another 20 years! Talk about coal in your stocking…. My son thought it was bizarre that it was legal to give something that was marked $100 and was only worth $50! Just give the $50. Fifty bucks will mean a lot more to a ten-year-old than the matured $100 bond will mean to him or her when he or she is pushing 25 years old!