I hate shopping for presents for kids that aren't mine. Ok, if I'm close to the kid, it isn't so bad. However, most kids are a pain in the neck to shop for.
Our great-nephew's birthday party is coming up, and we got maybe 2 weeks notice. So, yesterday, there we were standing in the toy department, trying to figure out what to get for this child. He is about to turn 1 year old. He lives out of town, technically out of state, so we don't see him a lot. In fact, I have only seen him one or two times. I know virtually nothing about this child. I don't know if he's talking or walking yet. He could be really developmentally behind and spend his days on the floor staring at the ceiling fan, and I wouldn't know. I'm pretty certain he's not some super-advanced genius kid, because the family would be sure to brag about that, especially the one raising him. I don't know any of his interests. I don't know what he already has. I don't know if he likes looking at books. I don't know if anyone reads to him regularly.
Are you seeing the problem here? What do you get for a child when you don't know what they already have, what anyone else is getting them, what they need, or what they like?
We didn't want to waste our money on some cheap toy that would be broken in a week. We didn't want to spend tons of money on something we don't know will get used. We didn't want to get him something he already has or that 3 other people would also get him for his birthday. We prefer buying educational or useful stuff, not just junk. We had hoped to get him a drum from Leap Frog, but it was online only, not in the store. We couldn't guarantee it would get here in time, and my hubby wants to have the gift in hand when he gets there. I totally understand that. So, there we were looking at the Leap Frog stuff and all they had for 1 year olds was the Tag Jr. I don't want to get something like that for someone else's child, because I have no idea if they would purchase additional books for it. Without the additional books, it is useless, and a waste of money. Plus, I have no personal evidence of whether or not it actually helps kids learn to read. By the time the Tag came out, my kids were both beyond that point. It came out in 2008. Dea was 10 and Jay was 5. She had been reading at a high school level for a few years and he had already taught himself to read (though he still wasn't reading in front of us). We simply had no use for it, so never bought it. I would hate to buy it for someone else, only to find out that it doesn't do any good and is just a fancy toy, with no educational value. I would also hate to buy it for someone else only to find out that they don't want something like that for the child. So, it was a no on anything Leap Frog. We also shot down all VTech options for similar reasons.
We eventually settled on a book. There were 3 there that we were choosing between. All 3 were collections of 6 popular early reader books. One was entirely Dr. Seuss books. One had The Foot Book and other titles similar (eye, ear, nose, arm, etc.). The last had a couple by P.D. Eastman and some others that I can't really say I've heard of before. We choose the last one. We figured it was less likely than the others to be chosen by someone else for this child. It had characters I recognized, even if I didn't recognize all the books. It had more variety than the others. We almost chose the Dr. Seuss one instead. My husband asked my which I would prefer to get for my child, and I said the last one. That meant that it was not likely to be the one most appreciated by the one raising this child. Finally, it was the fact that it was least likely of the 3 to be purchased by anyone else in the family that made us get it.
Now, we wait and see how appreciated the gift is.