If you spent Black Friday as I did — hunkered down over my computer screen, wishing the fairies of consumerism would just kill me already and put me out of my misery - you still have some shopping to do.
I mean, what are you to do when the last of the must-have toys was sold from the assembly line six minutes after the company manufacturing it leaked to news sources "Junior will likely revolt if it's not under the tree?"
Why, you improvise, of course.
So in the spirit of holiday giving, what follows is a list of gift alternatives that will probably break the bank, but who cares? The bank is already broken and you need to cover you posterior. And anyway, the kids and grandkids need to see something when they rub the sand from their eyes come Christmas morning.
Knitted Lab Rat, $62
The Crafty Hedgehog — etsy.com
Your little scientist will be dazzled with this knitted curiosity. The white rat is hand knit from an acrylic mohair blend, and his little innards are needle-felted by hand out of 100 percent wool. He comes pinned into a framed corkboard. As he is not glued down he can be easily removed for cuddling. Poor thing. If you throw in an additional $18 your knitted biology project will arrive in an actual lab tray.
Also available in Frog. Makes the perfect gift for the pacifist biology student on your list.
The Tickled Pink
Deluxe Nursery Set, $300
You know what this means right? Now when you leave the house with your new little mother, not only will you have to schlep your kid's coat, hat, books, backpack, snacks, extra shirts, pants and various and sundry things … you're going to be toting double for your new plastic grandchild, too.
Because, this is the ULTIMATE doll set, and includes a custom made "Newborn Nursery Baby," stroller, diaper, backpack, four-piece dish set, piece hat and bootie set, snowflake snowsuit, comb and brush set, bed/changing table, bedding set, fleece gown and cap, fleece blanket, clip-on bunny pacifier and bunny rattle. And you thought real babies don't even need that much gear.
Wooden Cinderella Coach, $1,100
This limited production rocking chair will be hours of pretend fun (as opposed to real fun) for your little Cinderella. And it will only set you back a couple of weeks' pay. Don't be cheap. It is an heirloom piece that will live on forever in the heart of a child.
It includes rockers, gourd seating and clocks. You can speed through any fairytale story and still get nowhere, but at least you'll know when it's bedtime.
Penny Pony Ride-On, $350
Just drop the jumbo penny into the slot and hold on. The mechanical horse you know and love from visiting K-Mart will make clip-clopping and neighing sounds while swinging its head and tail.
It's a good investment, really. You'll never again have to empty your pockets of quarters and wait in the wind and rain to get to your Blue-Light Special.
Reborn Baby of the Month Club, $1,200
ShamrockLady — etsy.com
Are your snarky teenagers driving you nuts? Do you miss the days when they were cute and cuddly and didn't speak? I think at least one major news outlet has done a feature story on these eerily creepy dolls and the collectors who love
Made to look like real newborn infants, these dolls have weighted bodies, micro-rooted wigs. You get a baby a month for six months: a newborn, a preemie, a micropreemie, at least one boy, one girl, one with open eyes and one with closed eyes. Just don’t let the kids tote these dolls around by their hair. You don’t want a visit from Social Services.
Makes the perfect gift for the kid who has dreams of running an illegal daycare.
Broken Bones X-rays, $27
For kids who just can't wait for spring - when they'll fall out of a tree, necessitating a trip to the emergency room and will wind up with a set of their very own. Or for the more girly-girls on your list who otherwise may NEVER have to have any part of their bodies set in a cast.
X-rays are also available in animal anatomy for all those kids who plan on becoming veterinarians.
Deliverance Van, $260
Stephen Fabrications — etsy.com
The "sculpture" of a truck is just a rusty metal box with a deer antler on rollerskate wheels. I don't think I can improve upon this blurb, however: "I intended this to be a toy and halfway through building it, I realized it was dangerous and went with the danger thing. Delivery vans (vans in general) are creepy. So is this one."
Come to think of it, it's perfect toy for your least favorite nephew.
Lunch Lady Action Figure, $11
Can't you just smell the fish sticks and Tater Tots? Nutrition may soon be coming to a school near you, but the lunch lady who serves it will always have a hairnet and see-through plastic gloves. Anything else would be un-American. The only thing that would make this toy better would be if the food choice stickers you can apply yourself had Scratch-n-Sniff technology.
Mmmmm. ... Lime Jell-O with mystery bits. Mmmmm.
Zorbit Double Wall Inflatable Ball with Harness, $2,000
The Kids Fun Company
It's a human hamster ball, folks! Even the ad copy says words like "maximize the thrill while eliminated unnecessary risks," just not in that particular order (or with the same spelling). It's perfect for any child with an overprotective parent, or anyone who just wants their kids to go play in traffic ... safely.
What if your kids prefer water play? You don't want to risk drowning do you? For the bargain price of $800, you can get Aqua Ball. (The company originally named the device Water Walker … but you know … sales were probably sluggish and Aqua Ball just sounds so much more entertaining.) After all, the Aqua Ball is guaranteed fun. (I'm not sure it's the money-back kind, though.)
I seriously doubt you'll be needing to look elsewhere for that perfect gift this year, but I'd still like to invite you to join me on Christmas Eve as I do my last-minute holiday shopping at the liquor store. I'm just going to ask for something in the back - something, say, among the recycling? The kids will be happy. They'd rather play with the box, anyway.