Stop! Put that back on the shelf. Click it out of your Amazon cart.
Now, think. Gifts are great, but they soon turn from presents to pasts, so make sure that thing you are buying is going to last (and not drive you insane).
These are important questions. Ask them before you make that purchase.
1) Is it age appropriate?
Last year, I bought the girls a giant tub of Play Doh. The first time we used it, the situation became me making them things out of Play Doh. And they watched. And demanded. And watched. And tantrumed. They had me trying to make a carousel before I finally put it away for good. A carousel. Out of Play Doh. We didn't use the stuff for another six months, when they were older and better prepared for it.
2) Do they really want it, or do they just think they want it?
I bought them an Alfie for their birthday because every time we went to one of our friend's house, all they wanted to do was play with "the robot." Seemed like a shoe-in, right? Well, little Alfie has been on the bookshelf collecting dust since August. Sure, we break him out every once in a while (usually I or my husband have to make him interesting to the girls before they'll play), but what the twins were really into wasn't Alfie. It was going to their friend's house.
3) Where are you going to put it?
Buying a bicycle is a great idea. Until you're still seeing it against the wall of your living room months later because you've got nowhere to store it.
4) Does the gift-receiver have siblings close in age? If so, how many of those siblings are going to die over this present?
5) How likely is this present to drive you insane?
I have a drum set I am going to return. I prefer my hearing and both of my girls alive over being deaf from drum beats and terrified screams as one of them pulls the other one's hair out for her turn.
6) Is it a consolation gift?
Don't buy it. That's the drum set. The drum set is supposed to be a play kitchen. But they didn't have any. So I bought something impulsively that I thought they would also enjoy as their big gift. Don't do this. All or bust. A replacement is most likely going to feel like just that.
7) Is it within budget?
Remember, your kids don't really care about what they are getting. I mean, they do, but not as much as you do. If you can't afford the expensive iPadTouchThisWithGold this year, get them other things they'll enjoy that won't break you. The holidays aren't about going into debt, no matter what the stores would have you believe. They're about living, loving and being around family.
Don't forget in your mad rush to get the perfect gift that your perfect gift is already in your home with the bonds you're forging over carols and cookies.