More Christmas Gift Ideas

I have two kids home sick from school, but they only had one barfing session each (one kid last night, the other kid this morning), and since then they have been absolutely well enough to play video games, so I am hoping hoping hoping that they just had too much dinner last night or something.

Every year at Christmas I re-read This Year It Will Be Different. This time I’m deliberately reading one story each night, after it’s dark enough outside for the Christmas lights to look peak beautiful. This has been a very pleasant way to do it, as it turns out.

Certain Christmas carols bug me; I won’t list them all, because one person’s teeth-clenching irritant is another’s sentimental favorite, but I did want to mention a little issue with Do You Hear What I Hear. That’s the one where the night wind tells the lamb about a special star, and then the lamb tells the shepherd boy about a special song, and then the shepherd boy tells the king about a special baby, and then the king tells his people about the special baby too. But in the actual Bible story, what the king actually does upon hearing the news of a special baby is order the execution of all boys two years and younger. I can see how that wasn’t as nice a verse for the song, but what if the shepherd boy had instead continued the game of Telephone with a grown-up shepherd or a magi or something? Then we could have had another good verse without the story veering.

We are right at that point where “There is PLENTY of time to prepare for Christmas” has the potential to turn into wild panic about how little time there is left. Rather than trying to make idea lists around a certain type of person, I am going to just show you what I’ve been buying and trust you to figure out which person on your list it might work for, if any.


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Pokémon wallet for my six-year-old nephew who just started getting an allowance. I had Paul and the three youngest kids all weigh on the decision, because there were several pretty good ones; this one was the winner, but not by a lot. The runner up was this one. Arguments for the one we got: it’s cuter; it’s a more attractive design overall; you can act like you’re putting your money into a Pokéball. Argument for the runner-up: more Pokémons is better.


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Pokémon Throw ‘N’ Pop Charmander and Great Ball, also for the six-year-old nephew. I thought this looked really cute and fun. The hardest part was picking which Pokémon/ball combination.


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Pusheen 12″ plush for my eight-year-old niece. I hope I made the right call on this. Elizabeth thinks the ones eating things (cookie, cupcake, sushi, doughnut, pizza, ice cream, chips) are cuter, but I thought a more basic edition would have more long-term cuteness/appeal. (By the way, there is a 41″ version too if you are of the go-big-or-go-home temperament.)

I also bought the Pusheen stamp set, which by the way is TINY—tinier than I was imagining, because I failed to read the perfectly clear description. It’s a nice stocking item, though. And if you’re thinking of buying some Pusheen stuff, I definitely recommend the Pusheen book. All my kids love it.


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Nerf Dart refill, for ten-year-old Henry. When we are old and moving into a nursing home, they will clean out our house and, one assumes, find thousands of Nerf darts, because where do they all go?


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OPI in Madame President. For me. I had a bottle already, but Elizabeth uses up a lot of nail polish and so when the price dipped I bought another bottle to set aside and not let her use. I’ll have Paul put it in my stocking.


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Pizzacraft dough docker, for Paul. He likes trying new kitchen toys, even if they don’t end up being useful.


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LEGO Space Shuttle Explorer / Moon Station / Space Rover. For Paul, who recently said he was in the mood to build with LEGOs again. I like that you can make three different projects with the same set.


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Portal the board game, for either Edward or Henry, depending on who has fewer presents. The video games Portal and Portal 2 have been extremely and persistently popular at our house, so even if the board game ends up being terrible it’ll be fun to open. I’m also buying this little LEGO Portal set; probably I’ll give it to Paul because he can be relied on to share graciously.


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Dixit, for 16-year-old William. I am picky about games, and I do like this one. I like that it’s low-pressure, and everyone plays for themselves so you don’t have to worry about letting teammates down, and it’s relaxed and creative, and it allows time to pause and chat for awhile mid-game-play. I was explaining the game to William (I played it at someone else’s house) and he really liked the sound of it so I’m getting it for him.


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Chicago Cutlery Fusion II 5-inch utility knife and 7-3/4-inch chef knife. We have the 3-inch paring knife and Paul commented recently that it’s one of his top favorites and he wishes he had a second one so he didn’t have to keep washing it. So I’m buying him a second one, and also these two different knives from the same line so he can see if he likes those too. I see they say hand-wash only, but we have been putting the paring knife through the dishwasher daily.


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Hedgehog journal, for niece who loves hedgehogs. Also hedgehog stickers.


Melissa and Doug Giant Deer. For me, and as a friend for my giraffe. I can’t fully explain myself, except that I saw him in a store and his nose was perfectly off-center and he was looking at me like this:


You should have seen all the adoring looks he got as I wheeled him around in the cart. Everyone who saw him wished they’d seen him first! Everyone! I have him standing next to the Christmas tree with Christmas lights draped over his antlers, and I have no regrets.


20 thoughts on “More Christmas Gift Ideas

  1. Celeste

    We’ve come to love Victorinox knives. There is a Granton-edge meat slicing knife going under the tree. It turns out that fajitas are something everyone likes at home, so it’s a cost of doing business.

  2. Alice CW

    I’ve played the Portal board game and really enjoyed it, even though I’ve never played the video game. Something that may help with expectations is that the game can last a rather long time, but then end pretty abruptly. I see that the game time on the box is listed as 30-45 minutes, but I have had a game that has creeped closer to the 75 minute mark.

    If you don’t mind a suggestion for future board game gift ideas, I heartily recommend RoboRally. The name initially made me think of those “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots,” but it is nothing like that. Every player has a robot that they are trying to navigate across a factory floor to reach different flags in a certain order and interference from other players or from moving conveyor belts can send your robot off course. It’s lots of fun and plays up to 8.

  3. Jessica

    One of my cats LOVES the Nerf darts. If she finds one, she’ll chew it and carry it around the house like a mouse. We try to keep them in a Ziploc bag, but inevitably she finds them and destroys them. So a refill pack is needed here and a great idea!

    1. Meaghan

      My constant warning about NERF darts is to make sure if they go up on your roof, make sure they come down. They got stuck in a gutter if ours, which meant that rainwater overflowed and put stress on our foundation that caused a leaking crack. No idea that was possible and if it had been behind a finished basement wall, we would never have known until significant damage was done.

    1. juliloquy

      We love Dixit, too, especially my 10 yo daughter. Have you ever played Sushi Go? It’s super fun, too.

  4. M.Amanda

    I’ve been thinking about buying the deer! My husband just brought home the moose, which he won in a drawing at work. The kids are fighting over him. His name is Gilbert. I don’t want to reward their bad behavior, but I fear that if I can’t take some heat off Gilbert, he may not stand by New Years. And the deer is so cute!

  5. Elizabeth

    I’m happy with how happy you (and all the other – slightly jealous – customers) are with your deer.

  6. Maggie

    Oh! I have no use for or space for that giant deer and yet I’m having to exert an enormous amount of will not to just go ahead and buy it. How cute!

    Oldest is nearly 15 and hasn’t played with Nerf in a few years AND YET every time I move furniture or look under something I swear to dog I find nerf darts. They are spontaneously reproducing themselves or something. 20 years from now when I move into a retirement community 1-800-got-junk is going to have to come to my house to take away all of the old nerf darts…

  7. Chris

    If only I could start off every day with a Swistle post like this! I feel all warm and fuzzy. I’m between your and Rob’s age…I often find myself wishing I had a mother like you. Is that odd to say? Well, I’ve said it now.

  8. Shawna

    I cannot believe that niestle is 8 years old. I CANNOT! Time, how it flies.

    Also, I am ordering Dixit for my friend Christmas get together, I love games where you can pause and chat or get up to fix a drink and not miss much.

  9. Ashley

    Ha, my 5-year-old son just had the same complaint about Do You Hear What I Hear? the other day. It’s one of my favorite carols and I had never really thought about it much before, but my son piped up from the back of the car, “Wait, isn’t the king a BAD king? ” We talked about it and decided that perhaps the “mighty king” is one of the Three Kings/Wisemen (although we agreed the song doesn’t make that clear at all).

    I also totally would have wanted to come home with that deer.

  10. Melinda

    I am cracking myself up today because I decided I was going to buy This Year It Will Be Different and then realized maybe I should get the Kindle edition since we’re reaching that apex of not enough time before Christmas and when I clicked over it to the Kindle edition on Amazon it told me I’d already bought it December 16, 2012. On your recommendation, I’m sure. I’m loving all the gift suggestions!

  11. Meaghan

    I always assumed the king was “Christ the King” not Herrod, because he was a jerk. But realized as I was reading that was kind of a weird leap. Anyhow, I looked up the song origins and I think you might like them. It was written in the 60s as a response to Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis as a general plea for peace.

  12. Maureen

    The deer is adorable! I am waiting with breathless excitement for the delivery of my giraffe!! I’ve decided to call her Maribelle-like the merry bells of Christmas. I still have no idea where she will be residing, we had to rearrange our living room furniture last night when we brought home the Christmas tree. Times like this, I wish we had a bigger house!

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