5 Gifts Your Boys Will Hate - OhBoyMom

5 Gifts Your Boys Will Hate

November 28, 2012 in Parenting

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, December is almost here, so it’s time to get serious about holiday shopping. It’s not easy buying presents for three boys, who no longer dream about the trendy toys they see advertised this time of year. They are way past the Fisher Price, plastic toy stage and that makes pleasing them a lot more difficult. What’s more, we celebrate Hanukah AND Christmas in our house – an interfaith child’s favorite time of year! However, it makes an interfaith mom’s job of buying cool gifts a lot harder. Sure, the boys still make lists and tell me what they’d like, but for both holidays, I also like to surprise them with gifts they never would have thought of on their own. Every year I try, and every year, I fail, with at least one gift, if not more…Here’s just a small sampling of my major failures of gift-giving over the years:

  1. A Dollhouse. Yes, I tried that one year. I went all gender neutral on them and decided my three boys needed to play with a wooden dollhouse.  Seriously, what was I thinking? Within days, one of them had taken a purple magic marker and madly scribbled all over it so that it looked like a graffiti-scarred house.
  2. Books. I know, I should be fostering a love of reading and believe me, I do as much as possible. Two out of three of my kids do enjoy curling up with a good book, but when holiday time rolls around, unwrapping a book does not get their juices flowing. Also, I can rely on Grandma and Grandpa, who won’t give up on bolstering their intellects and gift them with books every year. The boys know they can expect a book from their grandparents every December.
  3. Clothes. I’m talking about practical clothes. I won’t even think about giving them a nice sweater or jacket.  A basketball jersey with their favorite player’s name on back, on the other hand, now you’re talking their language!
  4. Any non-tangible item. In other words, if it’s not something they can see or touch, they are not gonna like it. I won’t even try to gift them with a “special lunch with Mom” or “a day at the mall with Dad.” The only exception to this is tickets to a Knicks game or a gift card to Game Stop.
  5.  Outdated Video Games.  This might possibly be the most hated gift of all. One year I tried to surprise my boys by finding a college basketball video game they had never seen before.  Well, of course they had never seen it before; it was five years old and for sale at Game Stop in their “used games” section. No wonder it only cost $10 instead of the usual $60 for brand new games — you know, the games they actually want. The look of utter disgust and disappointment on their faces was enough to send me scrambling back to the store to make the exchange the day after Christmas.

This year, I’ve decided to stick to their lists as best I can. And if they complain that I didn’t surprise them with anything “good” this year, I’ll just hand them each a $20 and say “Surprise…Now you can shop for yourself!”

Have you ever failed at giving gifts to your kids like I have?


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy November 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Boys are so hard to buy for! I don’t know how you do it, honestly. After years of trying to please my nephew (now 12) I’ve given up. Cash it is! My girls don’t appreciate practical clothes either…or obscure games (I’ve tried that too). Ugh. I haven’t bought a single Christmas gift yet…I feel like such a slacker!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I’m with you on the slacker-ness — I haven’t bought a single gift either!


Janine Huldie November 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

This was great Emily. Not having boys I may not be the best on this, but can tell you this it is universal that all kids hate clothes for presents (unless you are Emma, who is a princess and loves already dressing up in skirts and dresses, lol!). Seriously my niece who is 3 years old and the same age as Emma got clothes for her birthday and just threw the clothes as she was opening them. So I can totally see where you were going with this. Loved it!!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thanks and yes, I too can relate to a child throwing a gift after opening it — and not in a good way!


Kelly November 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Uh I’ve failed so many times:) lol. Like when I kept buying my daughter clowns and she was in fear of them. She kept hiding them every night and I’d go put them back! I didn’t know she was scared of them. Now that I think about it they were kinda creepy. Every one played music and the heads spun around…I thought they were so cute! Lol

This year – we as going on a family vacation to Mexico and that IS their gift:) haha. I told my husband I’m giving each kid a little spending money and c’est la vie!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

That is pretty funny about the clown gifts…glad you finally figured it out! And Mexico sounds like the perfect gift for all — may have to suggest that one next time!


grownandflown November 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Emily, great list and I admit to having given “loser” gifts like the ones on your list, too. With a 22-year old son, I am afraid to tell you that it hasn’t gotten any easier. I’m looking forward to him graduating from college, moving into an apartment (please, please) and then buying him things he will need. I only worry that these will rate more like practical clothes than the latest Madden video game.


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Yes I could see how it gets even harder to give gifts when they are adults…I can never figure out what to buy my own parents either. However, I bet your son will appreciate stuff for his apartment — maybe just throw in a video game too for old times sake! :)


Audrey Howitt November 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Boys are hard to shop for–I have girls and when they were young, if it was pink, it was a hit–easy!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Cute! And with boys, if it rolls or makes noise, also a hit!


Cari @ MeetMyHusband November 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Great rules of thumb! My husband has two twin ten-year-old boys from his first marriage. They’re so tricky to buy gifts for. I’m sure your rules/failures would apply to them, too. Great post, Emily!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks Cari, and yes it’s a tricky age to please any kid, boy or girl.


Roshni November 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Oh boy! Outdated video games!! That’s big one, especially there’s one coming out every hour or so it would seem! Yet, they are always aware of it!!


ohboymom November 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

You got that right! I can’t pull the wool over their eyes, especially when it comes to video games.


Stacy Harris November 29, 2012 at 12:33 am

This is too funny. I am pretty sure there are plenty of gifts that I have failed at, but I must say my kids are pretty good at hiding their dissapointment. But, I have always preached that it is the thought and not the actual gift that matters. That and I threaten them with absolutely no gifts if they don’t at least act grateful! 😉


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 12:59 am

I preach the same thing Stacy, although I haven’t tried the threat of no gift if they don’t act grateful — good one!


clark November 29, 2012 at 2:29 am

“…one of them had taken a purple magic marker and madly scribbled all over it so that it looked like a graffiti-scarred house”

As a male-type Reader, I totally laughed at this, mostly because I could identify with it ( sorry, with your boys side of the gift process!) If it helps any, I can see the marker as the only thing a guy-kid could do!

The gift of actual money is something that is more significant than I think some parents understand, it is very definitely (for the child) a sign of becoming less of a kid.

‘cellent Post


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 3:29 am

You are so right about gifting money Clark — it does give them the message that we trust them to be a responsible consumer now. Thanks for your input!


Steve November 29, 2012 at 3:03 am

Two boys ages 16 and 17 and they are actually quite easy to “shop” for the past few Christmases. The older boy always has a list of exactly what he wants and I just follow that. As a guy myself I can say that most of us aren’t that difficult toplease and we don’t make secrets out of what pleases us. Just go with what we say and you should be fine 99% of the time. The younger boy is completely the opposite; impossible to get even one suggestion from him, let alone a list. It doesn’t help any that his birthday is just a couple weeks before Christmas either. So he usually gets money and the admonition not to spend it all in one place.

My daughter is only 30 months old, so pretty much anything is a winner for her. And she loves clothes (shoes especially), so we haven’t had any problems there, though I can see a problem brewing for my wallet as she gets older if the love for shoes continues unabated!


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 3:28 am

I have the same issue with two of my boys…one makes a detailed list; the other either has no list or puts impossible gifts to purchase on it. As for your daughter — Uh oh, girls and their shoes — watch out!


Michelle November 29, 2012 at 4:13 am

Agree completely with your list. Especially the reading part! It’s so hard to get kids to read, especially with internet distractions….that’s why I’ve started writing short stories. And to kids, if something’s not tangible, it’s not liked either. Thanks for sharing!


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I love your short stories and you’re so right — kids’ attention spans these days seem much shorter because of all the electronic distractions. Adults too!


Melanie November 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

LOL! I almost had tears in my eyes reading about the wooden dollhouse, the “special lunch out with mom”, and the outdated video games. I don’t have kids but I know how fussy they are these days after Au Pairing two very spoilt children. And especially boys!! I wouldn’t know what to buy them…the $20 sounds like a plan, lol. Good luck! 😉


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Thanks Melanie and yes kids are fussy about gifts for sure..I bet you have some good stories from your au pair days!


Cyndi November 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Oh man, you sound way more successful than I think I could be. I’m almost all but given up getting anything for my parents – they have everything. Nieces and nephews? I always screw up. I’m probably the mean aunt, but I stopped giving them presents when they turned 18 because I always got it wrong and I’d find stuff in the trash after Christmas that I had given them. They weren’t unappreciative, but I was clueless. I just give them photography cards now. At least I know they’ve read them. LOL.


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I’m impressed you gave your nieces and nephews gifts until the were 18…I would have stopped way before that! And yeah, my parents are impossible too. I send them food gifts like “cheese of the month” clubs.


Stephanie.Sprenger November 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

That is priceless – the graffiti dollhouse – ha! It is so funny to me how the gender stereotypes are often true. Hilarious list!


ohboymom November 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Yes, it’s true, although one of my sons did go through a phase of wanting a doll — thus the dollhouse fiasco!


Kate Hall December 5, 2012 at 4:43 am

LOL! This is great! The dollhouse kills me! My eight year old has high expectations (just like mom) and if we lead on that we’re getting him something good, it had better be GOOD. Or he will be so deflated and disappointed. My husband, poor thing, is still learning about this with him (and me).


ohboymom December 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I’ve got one with high expectations too, which does make it even harder. I’m learning to try to not build things up so much, but it’s hard, especially when you think you did actually get them a good gift.


Pete December 7, 2012 at 1:12 am

Great suggestions here, my wife will be the book giver for sure. I will keep these in mind, especially the dollhouse!


ohboymom December 7, 2012 at 2:26 am

Ha! Yes, I am cautioning you in advance about the dollhouse…I’m not saying boys won’t like it, but I’m also not guaranteeing it will remain in one piece! Glad to hear your wife will be the book giver because someone has to assume that role. Thanks for commenting!


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