What to Buy for Kids (I’ll Pass on the Creepy Barbie!)

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

This Christmas, Mattel is heavily promoting a Barbie doll which has a video camera in the middle of her chest and a screen on her back. First, let me say: this creeps me out.

Second, for the love of St. Nick: WHY?

I’m not against Barbie in principle, though if one of them dared to enter my girl-less abode, she would be headless AND limbless within two minutes. I’m just curious: who seriously thought this particular Barbie incarnation was a good idea? Don’t we have enough toys and gadgets that beep and whir, using up all sorts of non-kinetic energy? Did Mattel really need to implant [shudder] a camera in their star performer?

Don’t get me wrong. I like electronics, I do. I’m even learning to text, against my better judgment--hold your applause, please. And my boys are as video-game and action-movie crazy as the rest of the male population.

But last Christmas, son #2, Jackson, received a stomping/growling dinosaur with eyes that glowed as red as a Christmas bow. “Rex” cost my generous in-laws an inordinate amount of money, and he lasted all of thirty minutes before becoming extinct. (Side note: this situation eerily resembled the plot line of Jackson’s favorite Little Critter book. Life is just weird sometimes.)

When my father in-law tried to return the toy, a flustered clerk admitted the store was having all sorts of complaints about “Rex.” Meanwhile, Jackson and his cousins had set up an elaborate Lego and Lincoln Log village and were having the time of their lives.

My own favorite Christmas memory: I walk into the living room, my eyes closed. Mom and Dad are guiding me with excited voices, and as soon as they say, “Open your eyes,” I gasp. Before me is a massive dollhouse, filled with furniture and accessories. Its miniature details—pots filled with itty-bitty peas on the kitchen stove, diapers on the teensy changing table in the nursery—delighted me. My mom had labored for months to fulfill an eight year-old’s fervent Christmas wish. Even now, I get teary-eyed thinking about my parents’ huge sacrifice of time and money.

During my “tween” years, I spent hundreds of hours down on my knees by the dollhouse, engaged in imaginative play--no batteries required.

A few days ago, I allowed Jackson to use his allowance to buy something at a discount store while I shopped for his cousins. When he spent his hard-earned money on balloons and a big package of army men. I was so thrilled—and so was his dad, who used to play with that same toy when he was a little boy. Last night, they staged a massive battle together on Jackson’s rug.

So this year, my hubby and I are buying a few more gifts that don’t need to be booted up or plugged in. We’re loading up on scooters, skateboards, games and books. My parents, at whose house we’ll be celebrating, are stocking up on craft kits, colorful building blocks, and action figures.

If we’re lucky, Christmas morning might even be peaceful.

A gal can dream, can’t she?

Photo by John Corvera. Used with permission. Post by Dena Dyer, author of Let the Crow's Feet and Laugh Lines Come.


After hearing of David's and Cheryl's gift woes (and admitting a few of our own), TheHighCalling Team got together in our virtual office. There, amidst laughs and a lot of good Christmas cheer, we brainstormed about gift ideas. All of us liked the idea of "humanitarian" gifts, so we're including links to our favorite charitable gift places below.

But we also found that many of us love to share gifts we wrap and hand to our families and friends. Most of us admitted we like to receive gifts too! Check out our favorite gifts wished-for, received, given, and about-to-be-given. If you want to guess who suggested certain items in the gift-ideas box below, we bet you could figure it out!