Christmas Present Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Snap Circuits SC-300So Christmas has come and gone, and it’s easier to look back on all the presents my family got and tell which ones seemed to be worth the money, and which ended up being big duds. (Note: Boxes are never duds. Often, the Amazon box something came in ends up providing more entertainment than the toy itself.) I provide this list mainly because I know what a jam it can be to try and find presents for birthdays and such–maybe this list will give you some ideas for an upcoming special occasion. (And as always, if you happen to click on one of these links and buy it through Amazon, I get a cut. Just sayin’.)

So, what were the best gifts? TRC definitely liked Snap Circuits a ton, and I love it whenever he plays with them. Basically it’s a collection of electronics experiments that teach how circuits work. So he learns, is occupied for a while, gets to build things and have fun, all at the same time. Definitely a great toy.

Denisa got a pressure cooker, and that’s been a huge success. She had been really reluctant to get one, since it sounds like she’d had one growing up and was scared to death of the thing–never knowing when it might just explode. This one is electronic and has none of the random hissing and spitting of a traditional pressure cooker. You just plug it in, punch some buttons, and let it go. Beans go from dry to done in about 15 minutes. Incredible. Denisa uses it every week, often multiple times in a week. Big time good gift. This cookbook has been a good one, too. They go well together.

The Pyrex storage dishes are also a favorite. Much better than the standard plastic ones. They microwave great, store things in the fridge great, don’t stain. Good stuff.

TRC’s Beyblade set and Bakugan figures were popular for a bit, and he still plays with them, but I could take them or leave them. It didn’t help that some punk kid at school swiped a part to his Beyblade, so now they don’t work. Sheesh.

TRC and I play Magic the Gathering together a lot now–he really gets into it, and it’s been a lot of fun. The theme decks are a good place to start, it seems.

The spy gear comes in handy for TRC from time to time, but not as much as I thought he’d play with it. Still, he does take it out fairly regularly and enjoys being sent on secret missions.

Creationary, which the family got, is a fun game, but you could probably homebrew this one pretty easily, assuming you have some Legos on hand (and if you have a young boy, then I’m betting you do.) Just make up some cards with different objects on them and take turns drawing cards and trying to build what comes up. It’s really simple, but fun.

DC plays with her dress up sets a lot, but doesn’t do much with her dolls. Maybe she plays with them up in her room–I’m not sure. Haven’t been up there in a bit to find out. Who knew that a collection of different pairs of shoes would prove to be so popular? (Note: that’s not the exact thing she got. Close enough.)

I still haven’t played Ghostbusters 3 yet. There was a time when any new video game I got would get a lot of playtime. Buying presents for me was easy–video games and movies. Now that I have apps on my iPad which costs a few dollars each, and Netflix . . . I just don’t need those things anymore.

The pretend kitchen set is used a lot–and I made a small “oven” out of a cardboard box and duct tape, which is also popular. I don’t think splurging on a whole toy kitchen would be worth the space it takes up in your house or the expense. Cardboard boxes, my friend. Cardboard boxes.

I also use my bluetooth keyboard for my iPad quite a bit–makes typing on the thing much easier and faster, and it’s small and easy to store.

Actually, in looking back on the haul, we did pretty well. There’s nothing we got that I feel like was a total waste, and almost everything is used and enjoyed. That said, we could have stood to save a bit more than we did. I get caught up in the Christmas spirit (the one that involves TOYS!!!!), and get carried away each year. Not hundreds of dollars carried away–more like tens of dollars. But still–tens of dollars add up over time. ๐Ÿ™‚

How about you–any toys you’ve really liked? Any suggestions to make to others? The floor is yours, folks.

5 thoughts on “Christmas Present Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

  1. Wasn’t aware you played Magic. I’ve played since junior high, still pretty actively. I end up with massive accumulations of extra cards (mostly commons) from drafting. I’d be glad to hang onto them and ship them into the frosty north as I reach critical mass.

  2. Dan–That would be awesome. I only recently started playing, now that I’ve grown me a competitor. (Wife never really wanted to, and I didn’t know anyone played–always wanted to, though). I’ve been having a blast with it, though–lots of strategy, although I’m sure experienced players like yourself would blow me out of the water.


  3. Who suggested that pressure cooker? That woman is a genius. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m looking more into getting some less-plasticy stuff to hold our leftovers in. I will have to research it further, but the pyrex was a good idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a comment