How to Buy the Perfect Gift for Your Niece or Nephew

by Kate Noonan

When buying a gift for your niece or nephew, you need to follow a few important guidelines. Clothes (too useful), video games (too boring for you), and any living creature (no explanation needed) are out. Also, try to steer clear of anything that is collectable, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Webkinz, or — heaven forbid — anything to do with Magic the Gathering, as these kind of things are simply too cruel to all parties involved. To get the maximum enjoyment, and thus the greatest return on your investment, you will need to think strategically and identify something that walks that thin line between being totally fun for kids and completely aggravating to the grown-ups (i.e. your siblings) who have to live with them full time.

Ideally, these items will fall into one or more of the following categories: things that are messy, things that are mildly destructive, and (the very best) things that make some sort of noise.

Time permitting, go to the toy store and test these objects out yourself. But, life is busy and sometimes a birthday sneaks up on you, so fortunately, there is no shortage of suitable gifts available online — and you can even have them shipped overnight with the batteries so thoughtfully included, meaning your beloved little ones can start playing with whatever diabolical selection you’ve made as soon as possible. Your siblings will really appreciate this gesture.

For newbies, here’s a list of my favorite suggestions:

Star Wars™ Light Sabers (with sound!)
Stomp Rockets
Scientific Explorer’s Disgusting Science — A Kit for Studying the Science of
Revolting Things

Radio Disney Jams: Top Hits Vol. 2 by Hannah Montana, Ashley Tisdale, The
Cheetah Girls and Raven-Symone

Lego Ultimate Building Set
A very thick book of knock-knock jokes (bonus points if given before a long car ride
• My very own late-1980s-era Yamaha electronic keyboard with percussion pad
The Clarke Tin Whistle: Deluxe Edition Book & CD
Melissa and Doug Band in a Box

Be warned, your revenge-crazed siblings may begin teaching their children to say the darndest things, like, “Aunt Kate, why don’t you have a grown-up lady’s body?” and “I don’t think writer counts as a real job.” Take it in stride. After all, just like those lovely gifts you’ve purchased, the kids are headed elsewhere soon enough.

Kate Noonan is a freelance writer from Baltimore, which in case you haven’t heard, is the new Brooklyn.

Photo via Flickr