Christmas is coming, which gives you a golden opportunity to squander money and add to the mounting clutter inside your home. There are millions of options when it comes to buying presents for your children and then pretending that Santa gave them those presents and then resenting the fact that the children thanked an imaginary construct over the actual purchaser of the gift. But no matter what you buy, there is one clear, ironclad law of children's toys and gifts, and that is that THE MORE A CHILD LIKES A PRESENT, THE MORE YOU WILL HATE IT.

I've been a parent long enough to know that children will, instinctively, flock to the loudest, most cumbersome, most irritating toy first. You will try to wrest that toy away from them for five seconds, just five seconds to have a bit of peace and quiet in both your home and your mind, and your child will react like a fucking methhead being led to detox. WAHHHHH FUCK YOU I HATE YOU GIMME BACK MY WII! So with that in mind, I combed around and tried to find the holy grail of Christmas gifts: one that leaves both parent and child satisfied. Join me and see if I succeeded.


Odds you will approve of this present: 100%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 0%

Notes from Drew: In a perfect world, I would give my children nothing but books and they would be happy. Books are affordable, inspirational, and quiet (except for those Dora and Thomas books that have little buttons you can push to make noises, which means they are not books but GODLESS NOISE MACHINES dressed in sheep's clothing). They're the perfect gift, except that children find them boring and stupid. I can't argue there. Once children have discovered far more exciting playthings like television and video games and live ammunition, books can't compete. If it's between reading and eating a box of candy canes, they're all over the candy canes. Of course, there are some people who have kids who ADORE reading. "Oh, my little Cameron can't get enough books! Every new book is a new adventure to him! We hardly turn on the TV at all!" These people are witches and should be drowned.


Odds you will approve of this present: 0%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 100%

Notes from Drew: Candy makes the perfect stocking stuffer because it's dirt cheap. I mean, honestly, what the hell else am I supposed to put in this thing? A watch? I need filler gifts. The problem is that candy is, of course, the root of all evil. Once your child busts open a candy cane, she will take off half the wrapper and slurp the end of it for 17 hours, until her hands are coated in liquid candy cement and she runs around putting her sticky paws all over every goddamn thing in the house. Then you take the candy cane away and she attacks you like frenzied revolutionary. You've basically taken Christmas and turned it into a worse version of Halloween. Halloween is already damaging enough. You don't need a second one. Never give out candy at Christmas.

American Girl dolls

Odds you will approve of this present: 60%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 90% (if female), 10% (if male)

Notes from Drew: American Girl dolls are a perfectly nice gift. They're quiet, they force your child to use her imagination, and your child can occupy herself for large swaths of time role-playing with one, with frees you up to play video games and shit. That's factoring out cost, of course. Once you factor in cost... HOLY GOD. Two hundred thirty bucks for a fucking doll? Is she an ACTUAL girl? Can she grow up to help with dishes and whatnot? Worse, the doll itself is merely an entry point. Once your child has the doll, you have now been whisked into the entire American Girl subculture: the accessories, the catalogs, the restaurant (birthday parties book months in advance). We're talking $150 for a chalet. What kind of high-maintenance gold digger is this you've welcomed into your child's life? American Girl dolls will leave you destitute.

And the amazing thing is that I've seen plenty of families that have MANY American Girl dolls. In fact, their children seem to have every toy on the goddamn planet. How can these people afford all this shit? This is tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise. I bet these people also order seventy-dollar biscuits by mail.

Leap Pad

Odds you will approve of this present: 40%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 20%

Notes from Drew: The old Leap Pad used to be a physical book that you could touch and it would make noise and play terrible music and do all kinds of wacky shit. These pads were meant to make reading more interactive, but instead they just made reading harder. Remember that scene in Big where Tom Hanks is introducing a digital comic book and John Heard ruins his shit by saying he doesn't get it? That's this. Where am I supposed to touch the page? Does the pad know I'm on this page now? Why does the fridge moo when I touch it? It was confusing and horrible, which is why the Leap Pad is now just a straight digital tablet. Like an iPad, but horrible! Trust me: your kids will know that you failed to get them an iPad when they open this thing. And you really don't want to give a child a gift that essentially announces to them that regular reading sucks. They know that already.


Odds you will approve of this present: 10%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 50%

Notes from Drew: NO! YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MIX UP THE COLORS! STOP PRESSING IT IN THE CARPET! GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! How did this crumbly neon glop become a universally accepted indoor plaything? It's like giving kids pony cans of spray paint.

Lego sets

Odds you will approve of this present: 70%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 40%

Notes from Drew: Apart from the obvious dangers that stray Legos—and Duplos, which are giant Legos made for stupid children—pose to the health of your feet (seriously, it's like they know precisely where your anterior tibilas tendon is located), there are other problems. First of all, some franchise tie-in Lego sets are expensive as shit, even though the thought of building my own Lego Millennium Falcon makes me rock hard. Secondly, the whole process of building your Lego Hogwarts castle involves you patiently sitting there with your child while they fail to read the instructions properly. And you have to fight with all your strength not to push them aside and be like TIME FOR DADDY TO STEP IN. Then, once your Lego thing is built, you can't really play with it. You can try, but no kid ever likes dicking around with the little Lego people. They're the throwaways in the Lego set. They don't even have knees. You basically just erected a sculpture that exists to be dusted.


Odds you will approve of this present: 100% (you picked that shirt, after all)

Odds your child will approve of this present: 1%

Notes from Drew: Clothes aren't a gift. Children know full well that you bought them that shirt for your own sake, so that you could treat little Kayleighanna as your own personal American Girl doll. They aren't falling for that. I remember when I was a kid and I could easily tell which presents were clothes because they all came in long rectangular boxes. I opened them last. I would have thrown them in the fireplace if my mom had let me. Clothes are pointless.

Thomas the Train set

Odds you will approve of this present: 60%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 80%

Notes from Drew: Like an American Girl doll, a Thomas the Train set forces you to enter into a wildly expensive toy ecosystem, in which you will throw down $30 at a time for Rocky and Gordon and James and Spencer and every other obscure, Really Useless engine on the Island of Sodor. You will exhaust every last penny buying up drawbridges and roundhouses and engine washes until you are so poor that you have to scrounge garbage cans for fish carcasses. That said, it's pretty fucking sweet to build a kickass train track. LOOK AT MY TRACK! IT HAS SWITCH POINTS IN SEVEN DIFFERENT PLACES, PLUS A DEVILISH HAIRPIN CURVE! ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?! The only thing getting in the way of your masterful track is your son, who will demand a track that is structurally unsound. This piece here isn't connected to anything, boy. Are you TRYING to kill all the passengers?


Also, my son pronounces Percy the Engine, "Pussy," which never stops being fun. "Look out! Here comes Pussy rolling down the track! Pussy is causing confusion and delay!"


Odds you will approve of this present: N/A

Odds your child will approve of this present: 100%

Notes from Drew: If you give a child its own iPad for Christmas, you are a horrible person and I hate you. It's one thing to buy an iPad for yourself that you can let the children use in specific situations: long plane rides, during otherwise contentious fingernail trimming sessions, etc. But to shell out $500 so your 6-year-old can have its own iPad? No. Screw you. Your child is an entitled little shit and I hope he trips and falls in the mud and his little iPad gets ruined and he cries all the way home in the back of your BMW SUV because you clearly own a BMW SUV.

Board games

Odds you will approve of this present: 100%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 30%

Notes from Drew: Oh, look! It's what people played before there were video games! Merry Christmas, little Johnny! Wait, where are you going? Why are you setting fire to the curtains?!

Tickle Me Elmo

Odds you will approve of this present: 20% (prior to 2012), 0% (2012 and beyond)

Odds your child will approve of this present: 40%

Notes from Drew: It's fallen out of fashion, and not merely because of accusations against puppeteer Kevin Clash (and really, people, do we expect any better from our puppeteers?). The TMX Tickle Me Elmo was the kind of gift that was awesome the day your child opened it. You busted it out of the packaging, tickled it, and then laughed and laughed for two hours until it grew tiresome and your child never played with it again. Also, a Tickle Me Elmo requires 78,000 AA batteries and drains the power out of those batteries after 12 seconds of use. And it will seduce your son once he turns 16. KIDDING KIDDING WE DON'T HAVE ALL THE FACTS YET.

One Direction dolls

Odds you will approve of this present: What? Are you kidding? Fuck no.

Odds your child will approve of this present: ????

Notes from Drew: Jesus.


Odds you will approve of this present: 100%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 30%

Notes from Drew: Nothing is more fulfilling than watching your child finish a puzzle on his own. Oh my God, look how fast he did that puzzle! He must be a prodigy. He's going to attend Harvard at 15 and write elaborate quantum physics formulas on his window deep into the night. He may end up inventing the urine-powered energy turbine. Will his astonishing intellect hinder his ability to make true connections with people? Friends? Lovers? Underlings? Will he die a genius but unloved by those around him? God, that would be horrible. No more elephant puzzle for him. (Throws puzzle in the trash can).

Craft kits

Odds you will approve of this present: 60%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 40%

Notes from Drew: It seems like something wholesome, organized people would give their children. And then: BEADS! BEADS EVERYWHERE! My God, there are billions of them! Ever spill a craft kit? It's like a hurricane hitting your home. The cleanup takes years. Also, no craft kit ever fits snugly back into its packaging. I have paper crown kits that are sprouting sticker pages out of both ends.

Plush toys

Odds you will approve of this present: 100%

Odds your child will approve of this present: 25%

Notes from Drew: You're gambling that your child will develop an emotional attachment to little Corduroy. But most of the time, that shit gets thrown onto the bed alongside the rest of stuffed puppies, giraffes, and elephants. At night, the toys come to life and beg with your child to play with them. They plead and cry but their master won't answer them. WHY? Why must they be destined to be forever unloved?

Video games

Odds you will approve of this present: 0% (NOTE: applies only when you are not using it personally. Increase the figure to 10% if it's a Wii or Kinect because you're "glad it encourages movement.")

Odds your child will approve of this present: 1,000%

Notes from Drew: Let's face it: any video game console (or something that plays video games, like an iPad) is the greatest gift ever. I remember when my folks got me a Sega Master System as a child and even though the Sega Master System was the John Oates of '80s video game consoles, I was happy for MONTHS. So happy. Every fiber of my being was pleasured by its existence under the tree. There is no perfect gift that will ever satisfy both you and your child. There is only Video Games and Shit That Isn't Video Games. Every other gift is dogshit in comparison. And really, how bad can video games be for you? I played them as a child and now I curse at people online! Wait.

Top photo via RaGardner4's Flickr