Bad Santa: Three kinds of toys you shouldn't buy for kids

Toyportfolio.com co-founder Stephanie Oppenheim tells TODAY all about the best toys for kids every year. TODAY.com asked her to share her picks for the WORST. What toys should you never give, especially to someone else's child?

Super noisy toys
If it's so annoyingly loud or insistent that you want to scream, that's a good indication that the toy is too noisy. Unless you know that this particular family loves the clamor, I'd steer clear of loud toys or products without volume control. That's one of the factors we look at when we review toys.

Toys with projectile parts
You can't ensure that siblings won't "accidentally" shoot in the direction of their little sister. I'd also be careful about giving toys that come with lots of small parts when you know there is a baby or toddler in the house.

Gross toys
Toys that enable you to make green candy snot just don't do it for me. I also steer clear of what I call ugly "rococo-plastic." Toys should have a certain level of design.

A couple more tips to remember when picking the perfect gift for children:

Parent intensive
Don't give a gift that requires a great deal of parental supervision, unless you know the parent is really into trying a chemistry set, putting together a 1,000-plus piece construction set, or teaching their children how to play a super complicated board game.

Special needs
Be mindful of the special needs of the children on your list. For example, a child with ADHD may be too frustrated by a long game with lots of rules. We have a list of toys for kids with special needs on our site.

More from TODAY Moms:
Holiday card stress: Why parents strive for perfection
Ho-ho-high-tech: Kids send digital wish lists to Santa's inbox
Kids at adult holiday parties? Kelsey Grammer did it at Playboy mansion

People.com
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Discuss this post

So if you hate your neighbor, give his kid a set of drums :)

  • 1 vote
Reply#1 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 3:14 PM EST

Bratz! Why on earth should we be giving little girls toys called Bratz that encourages not only snotty behavior but teaches them that dressing sleazy and wearing a lot of makeup and botox-looking lips makes them cool...

  • 1 vote
Reply#2 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 3:27 PM EST

I don't know. My youngest daughter loved those dolls and she's certainly not like anything you described. My son also had his own collection of them when he was about five. He loved playing with them. To our mind Bratz dolls just looked comical and cute. Oh, I also didn't buy ones with "sleazy" clothes.

    #2.1 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 4:14 PM EST
    Reply

    Toys that enable you to make green candy snot just don't do it for me.

    Ah, I see! So it's about what YOU like and not what the kid likes! This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn: DON'T buy my kid something just because I like it. In the end most everything I bought them like that ended up going to a thrift shop or the garbage can. I eventually learned to quit wasting money. If any of my kids would have really enjoyed a toy that lets them make green candy snot I would most likely have bought them one.

    Through the years I did find some winners. My Little Ponies were always a big hit with my girls when they were young and still makes a great gift for one of them as an adult. Legos, and contrary to what some people think it didn't matter that they didn't come in any girly styles. My daughters wanted the pirate sets and Star Wars sets and they set about and accomplished earning $80 to buy a set that had something to do with Egypt. This last year when birthdays rolled around what do you suppose the one who loves My Little Ponies so much wanted? Thor Legos! Now she wants the Lego Ironman for Christmas.

    Unfortunately my son hit a time in toy making when the quality went downhill so badly almost everything fell apart before he got much use out of it. He was never a rough-and-tumble child so I know it wasn't because he mistreated them. When he was about eight he had saved his own money for some type of motorized helicopter. A rotor broke off and we couldn't even repair it. I bought him a Nerf toy for Christmas one year. Within six months it was toast. The only toys I bought him that lasted were the wooden Thomas the Tank Engine sets and those he outgrew all too quickly. Even so, if you have a younger child to buy for I really recommend them. Sure, there are bits and pieces to get scattered about but we bought a large tote and it doesn't take long at all to clean them up. I'm just glad that by now he's old enough he no longer wants toys as much as he does things like a video card or Swiss Army Knife. At least I know when I buy them they won't be worn out or broken before they're hardly used.

    • 3 votes
    Reply#3 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 4:11 PM EST

    LOVED the noise making toys! That way, I knew where my "dainty" little girls were & what they were doing! When it got quiet - that's when I knew it was time to go find out what kind of mischief they were into!

    The toys they enjoyed the most were the ones that didn't "do" anything. One year, I bought lots of dresses, hats, gloves, purses, etc at a consignment shopt that was going out of business. Those were used for years and years! Another year, I bought baby dolls that were the size of a real 3 month old baby. That & real baby clothes from yard sales & Goodwill were also used for years and years.

    I also learned to NOT tell others what to get the girls. Just because I thought they'd like it or not like it had NO bearing on their tastes! They had dolls, cars, 4 wheelers, dress up clothes, etc. Turned out to be pretty well rounded kids, if I do say so myself.

      Reply#4 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 4:32 PM EST

      I sure miss the good old days of Red Ryder BB Guns, Gilbert U-235 Atomic Energy Lab, Austin Magic Pistol, Johnny Reb Cannon, ect., ect., ect.

      Simpler times I guess, when people were responsible for themselves, they're children and they're actions.

      • 2 votes
      Reply#5 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 4:41 PM EST

      The headline: "Three kinds of toys you shouldn't buy for kids." The story: Five kinds of toys you shouldn't buy for kids. Now, I'm no math genius, but...

      • 1 vote
      Reply#6 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 5:24 PM EST

      I buy my nieces loud toys that are extremely hard to assemble just to mess with my brother. Oh X-mas joy :)

      • 1 vote
      Reply#7 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 6:44 PM EST

      my brother-in-law always did that, now he has a 7 year-old and a 5 year-old, payback time

      • 2 votes
      Reply#8 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 7:06 PM EST

      No noisy toy is as loud as my kids, so it's actually quieter around here when they play with that stuff.

      • 1 vote
      Reply#9 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 8:34 PM EST

      Childhood without green candy snot?

      Children of the world, arise! To Concord Bridge! The barricades!

        Reply#10 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 9:22 PM EST

        What's wrong with giving a kid a noisy toy? As long as they live in a different time zone than me, it's OK.

          Reply#11 - Tue Dec 4, 2012 11:43 PM EST

          I have been a teacher for the last five years, an uncle to seventeen for twenty years, and a Father for 10, and I hate the article she wrote. All the things kids love are listed as bad news, and when everyone else in the neighborhood has one the alienation starts. This article sounds like the kind of thing a childless rich Auntie would write. The standard lines about safety and special needs (duh, lady, we have met more than one child, you condescending spinster) flag this one as least readable holiday article of the decade.

          • 2 votes
          Reply#12 - Wed Dec 5, 2012 12:24 AM EST

          Couldn't the noisy toys damage their hearing over time? I've noticed my little guy typically picks out something noisy when he feels we aren't paying him enough attention. Granted his only sister is 9 years older, so he doesn't have a sibling to keep him occupied, but he used to build his "Island of Sodor" Thomas tracks right into the common area sort of forcing us to play with him. But his Thomas infatuation lasted about 3 years, so it wasn't a short-lived thing at all.

            Reply#13 - Wed Dec 5, 2012 7:17 AM EST

            sounds to me like the person who wrote this doesn't think kids should have any fun. Christmas is about them not the adults.

            • 2 votes
            Reply#14 - Wed Dec 5, 2012 12:37 PM EST
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