If you are horrible at the holidays, like myself, you may have found yourself without a gift for your baby for various reasons— a job that takes up too much time, a stomach bug during crucial holiday shopping hours, confusion over early onset Hanukah, etc.
Maybe your baby is so new that you haven't yet entered the "Normal Thinking Adult" phase. Or maybe your case of "Mommy Brain" is chronic. OR. Maybe you have older kids with very real holiday wants and desires, so you put the needs of a baby who doesn't yet understand the meaning of Christmas (TOYS! TOYS! TOYS!) on the backburner.
In any case, you're in luck! Not only does your baby care less about your excuses, he/she also doesn't care about how much effort went into their gifts!
To assauge your guilt, I've put together a handy round-up of household items that your baby will be more than thrilled to receive, so everyone else can go back to ooohing and aaaahing over their iPad Airs and their rainbow looms in peace.
Best of all, these gifts don't require a blow torch to break them free of their plastic packaging. In fact, they've got no packaging whatsoever.
You know your husband has one hanging out in a drawer somewhere. It's probably got his campus ID, a condom and a misplaced sense of irony inside. We keep ours next to the changing table for preventative purposes. Harlow is a big fan of arching her back and flipping over mid-change. So far, the wallet, with all it's pockets, textures and oh-so-satisfying sounds, is our best chance of distraction.
2) Bottle of Aspirin
This might sound dangerous BUT— I recommend using a plastic bottle with a childproof cap, emptying it out and filling it with loose change. It's a DIY rattle! You might get funny looks if you ever bring your new baby's toy out in public. But telling curious strangers that your 6 month old is in charge of helping you remember to take your meds is half the fun of parenting.
3) Tennis Ball
Did you know that Andre Agassi's dad hung a tennis ball over his crib so he could practice following the ball with his eyes? TRUTH.
4) White Socks
Simply take a black Sharpie and draw some eyes on the toes. Call it Casper and you've got yourself a supercool ghost puppet! Even better, socks usually come in pairs. Two for the price of one!
Not only will the baby have fun with her new colorful toy set, the lids can teach invaluable lessons in fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. Make sure to store it in it's original kitchen cabinet location for added interest. Call it "Tupperware Hide and Seek". If your baby wants to play again, simply make a feeble attempt to return the tupperware to its rightful location. Trust me— your baby can play this game all day every day and never get bored!
6) Old Blackberry
Sure, you can hand over your iPhone but why risk potential drool damage when you've almost certainly got an out of commission dinosaur hanging out in a box with dead batteries, outdated computer cords and your old palm pilot. Dust that thing off, charge that bad boy up and take an educational trip with your baby all the way back to 2007! It will take a good five to ten minutes before she realizes she was duped and goes for your iPhone again.
7) Cardboard Box
Is it a house? A bus? A spacecraft? It's all three and more! Your baby's imagination is the only limit to what his/her new box can do. If your baby is too young to realize its potential, poke some airholes and flip the box over for guaranteed interactive play. Boxes are so effective, depending on your child's intelligence level, you may be able to use this gift fallback for the next five to eighteen years.
8) Remote Control
I know, I know. You're afraid your baby will erase your backlog of Scandal episodes. Or cancel your scheduled recording of the Bachelor premiere. That Juan Pablo! He's so sexy! Don't worry. Just locate an old remote (it's in that box with the Blackberry) or remove the batteries from your current one. Then laugh as your baby aims her new toy at the television with no results. It's fun for the whole family!
9) An Empty Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Tube
I know you've got a plethora of these hanging around. You used an entire roll of paper towels just this morning! Save that tube. It's been Harlow's favroite gift this holiday season. She uses it as an instrument, as binoculars, and as a teething toy. And best of all, she doesn't notice when we replace it. Unlike that whole Blackberry/iPhone debacle.
10) Empty Water Bottle
It crackles, it shape shifts, it doubles as a wind instrument— if it also ate all the food from your fridge, I'd call it the cheapest babysitter EVER! This is also one of Harlow's favorites. I know because she screeches like a velociraptor every time I try to drink from one. Once I hand it over, all is quiet.
With these household items at the ready, you can feel free to test out your new iPad Air till your heart's content.
Just don't let the baby see it.
Because that baby will settle for nothing less from that point forward.
Rewritten and reposted from December 2010, when nobody was reading except maybe my mom.
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