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Gifts you shouldn't give to other people’s kids. Ever

Any parent who has ever spent an afternoon trying to find a missing helmet for a Playmobil knight, or stepped on a piece of Lego while getting a glass of water for a groggy child at 2 a.m., knows what it's like to curse a toy that comes in a hundred, tiny, impossible-to-keep-tidy pieces. (That said, just try taking Lego off your seven-year-old's wish list.)

Still, there's a fair number of toys that are just plain pointless, and which, as more than a few bloggers have observed, you should avoid giving to your nieces/nephews/grandchildren unless you want to punish their parents. One father has compiled just such a list under an article entitled: What NOT to buy my kids for Christmas.

This list includes: anything loud, especially if the same songs or noise gets constantly repeated until you want to hurl it out the window. Any game with a million pieces. A toy instrument that doesn't really play and really just makes random, jarring noises. Anything "that's going to hurt like holy hell when I step on it," (i.e. the aforementioned Lego, which makes for conflicted parents). And any water toy not meant for the bath or for the outdoors where no one will have to clean up the mess. Anything living. And glitter – which defies the vacuum cleaner every time.

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Cory Byrom, the author of the piece, includes an admonition not to buy "anything inappropriate." But as grandparents can attest, that can get pretty complicated. It pays to ask about Barbie because she's a love-hate toy. Nerf Guns might be banned in one household and then acceptable in the next.

Of course, if you really want to make the parents suffer, as another web site suggests, you can choose from the list of dreaded toys, which would also include goo (the kind that inevitably picks up all the lint in the house and is found smushed in the carpet under the bed two months after it's opened), and microphones (if you have heard a kid singing the lyrics to Space Unicorn, you already know why this is a bad idea.) The kids will love you, but the parents might not invite you back.

Which only means that giving gifts to the little ones is a game of strategy. Check your list twice and play wisely. That drum set might just find its way to your house someday.

Share your own list of toys your kids might love but you would hate. (Or the painful moments involving ones that they've already received.)

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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