Children are strange—even alien at times. They’re still developing and it’s impossible to understand what’s happening in their little brains. That makes gift giving difficult. You don’t want to stymie their development or disappoint them with a gift they didn’t want and it’s hard to know what they will like or what will freak them out.
Some gifts, however, you don’t have to second guess. Some gifts are just a terrible idea. We rounded up toys you should avoid this holiday season, lest you encourage your kid to develop into the next Ted Bundy. Or, at best, resent you forever for ruining their childhood.
Stuffed Bunny With Removable Organs
All you really want to hear from your tot is “Mommy, I pulled out its spleen and pretended it was crying!” And that’s what you’ll get with Giblets, a stuffed bunny with organs you can take out and rearrange. It’s sold as an educational toy, and maybe it is. But, and I might sound like the anti-science brigade, it also might educate your kid on the best method for nonconsensual organ donations.
One commenter wrote “I’m very pleased with the quality of the plush rabbit, colourful organs and easy open zipper.” What a succinct description of the organ quality. And the ease of access to said organs. Hannibal Lecter would be proud.
This “Face Bank”
This creepy coin bank is no cute piggy bank. It is a blank box with a face. Its mouth moves as your hand approaches, evidenced in the below creepy video. No sane child would even use this, because that mouth looks like it swallows fingers.
Coming from Crate and Barrel’s toy brand, The Land of Nod, this doll looks like a patient from a mental institution back when lobotomies were totally chill. But like, the chic version. Only the most stylin’ psych ward inmates for your burgeoning psycho killer.
To this, I object on several grounds. The first is that it is 2017 and you should probably be getting your daughter a toy that encourages her to do something with her life besides reproducing. The second is that Midge’s stomach is magnetic and removable, so you can stuff the baby in. Which just seems both creepy and a horrible lesson in the mechanics of human reproduction.
A Doll That Really Cries
Every parent would agree that a crying baby is the best part of being a parent. So why not pass along that joy to your own kid?
JK. This is a ridiculous gift. Sure, it can be cool when dolls and other toys interact with you in some way. But this doll cries real crying baby sounds with real tears until you rub her back enough. This doll is a poorly disguised punishment by parents who resent their kids for having themselves been screaming, crying, snotty babies.
And Finally, This Popular Stalker Elf
The Elf on the Shelf is a children’s Christmas book with an accompanying toy elf that sits on your mantle and judges the heck out of your kid. It “reports” the children’s behavior back to “Santa,” i.e., their parents. The parents are supposed to move the elf and let the child find it.
It’s a stalkerish riff on the already stalkerish notion of Santa seeing everything you do. The creators call it a “fun-filled Christmas tradition” that began in 2005 and still draws millions of buyers. Which is plain creepy. It induces stress in both parents and kids. Parents have to wonder if they moved the elf for fear of ruining the Christmas magic. And it’s bad on kids, too. Psychotherapist Andrea Nair wrote “the thought of an Elf who holds the power to nix Christmas presents having eyes on them at night is causing children to have nightmares.”
Children’s book author Adam Reed opposes the creepster elf, so he made Reindeer in Here to replace it. While kids can’t touch the Elf on the Shelf, they’re encouraged to play with the Reindeer. Still, both are designed to induce anxiety about judgment in your kid.
I’m all for encouraging good behavior in children. But turning your household into a surveillance state so a three-year-old will stay in line seems like a good way to make the next Unabomber.