worst gifts to give

Let me start by saying that I love gifts — so much, in fact, that I discovered they’re my love language when I took that popular quiz that was once floating around. I’m also extremely grateful that my kids have people in their lives who willingly enjoy purchasing gifts for them. Between their aunties, uncles, and grandparents, they are pretty lucky to be so loved and thought of. 

When it comes to what’s available on today’s store shelves, though, there are some gifts that are better choices than others. Sometimes when I receive a particularly annoying gift for my child, I often wonder if the gift giver secretly hates me.

Perhaps this is their form of passive aggressive torture? Here are what I believe to be the worst culprits of the worst gifts you can give my kid: 

Oversized Stuffed Animals. Fact: kids love hoarding stuffed animals. My now 12-year-old used to sleep with a literal mountain of them when she was growing up, and now my three-year-old has followed suit. In fact, we have to limit his stuffed animal addiction because he’d likely not have any room left in the bed. Oversized stuffed animals, though, are an entirely new level of savage. They’re soft, sure, but does anyone really think that the giant Costco bear actually makes a good gift? Stuffed animals, especially oversized ones, sit in a corner and collect dust and whatever else rolls through our house. As a nurse, I learned from my experience working at a camp one summer that lice especially love to hang out in stuffed animals. No, thanks. If it can’t even fit in my washing machine, I’ll opt out of this one. 

Toys with Approximately 799 Tiny Pieces. Here’s the truth — that amazing baking kit or Lego spaceship isn’t going to happen, at least not for another few years. I prefer toys that require limited supervision so I can have more time for the important stuff, like Instagram and hot coffee. My one-year-old is also very likely to choke on said pieces, and as much as I’d like to hope they’d all stay together in their perfect sized container, you and I both know that they won’t. They’ll instead be strewn all over the playroom, only to be found randomly throughout the year in play kitchen pots, wedged under couch cushions, and possibly shoved inside my one year old’s diaper. He likes to put stuff in there sometimes. 

Any Musical Instrument or Band Components. Yes, I’m sure that harmonica seemed like the perfect gift idea when you were strolling through the aisles of Target. Thanks for the drum set! My house is definitely not noisy enough with my three kids and dog. The keyboard is spectacular, thanks! That’s sure a loud volume setting — nah, my hearing isn’t that important. For the love of my sanity, though, can we also stop with the recorders? They were annoying enough back when I played Hot Crust Buns on repeat for my poor unsuspecting victims parents in late elementary school.

Toys Without Volume Control or Off Buttons. I’ll be the first to admit that in general, toys with an acceptable level of noise or flashing lights don’t bother me. The worst, though, is when loud toys don’t have any sort of “off” button. You know what’s even more obnoxious? When they have some sort of stalker sensor that triggers them to emit a noise every time you walk by. That solar powered STEM concepts puzzle seemed great during daylight hours, but right now in the pitch black playroom — as it’s firing off random space related facts — I’m officially creeped out. 

Playdoh or Magic Sand. I love art as much as the next mom, and I love activities where kids can work with their hands. Here’s the thing, though — that cool haidresser Play-Doh set requires extensive assistance and gets tiny fluorescent bits all over my house. Months later, I’ll still find them crammed into the carpet or my favorite rug, and the baby will likely find them and eat them. Either that, or I’ll grow accustomed to permanently living in a layer of Magic Sand. Unless these gifts are accompanied by a year’s supply of housekeeping, I suggest skipping it. 

Cheap, random dollar store toys. I want to first say that this isn’t a knock to anyone’s budget. In fact, I’d be thrilled with a simple handmade card for my kids over Dollar Store toys, because they are truly the bane of my parental existence. They’ve also received quite a reputation over recent years for their less than stellar ingredients, but their quality is also severely lacking. I don’t want to go hunt down another cheap light up wand when the one that’s been gifted to us breaks after 37 minutes of use, or contribute said broken toy to the already overflowing landfills. I really mean it when I say that a handmade card is totally our jam. 

What do you think, moms? Is there a gift on this list that makes you cringe? 

Jessica Rockowitz
Jessica is a Boston girl turned Austinite as of 2016. She is a wife to Kyle and mama to Hayley, Colin, and Graham. Though she misses many things about the East Coast, she absolutely cannot complain about the active, taco-infused lifestyle of Texas. She is a former OB/GYN Nurse Educator turned digital media agency owner and lifestyle photographer. When she's not busy behind the lens, you can catch her caffeinating, desperately trying to find a cheer carpool, and obsessing over microfashion. Follow her over at www.jessicarockowitz.com


  1. This is a good list. I haven’t seen the idea of just getting random dollar store items, but its true. We have a relative that’s talented at picking out the most obnoxious gifts for our kids. We’re trying to return the favor. annoyingkidstoys.com also has some good lists in case others are looking for ideas.


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