Christmas Kids Toys And Gadget Checklist

BatteryStack.jpg No matter how carefully you plan, there's almost always a point on Christmas morning when little Jared's shiny new toy won't work because you forget the batteries or some other implementation disaster. As a card-carrying geek, I'm all for giving the kids tech presents, but after a few minor incidents of this kind over Christmas, I've made a few notes on what to do better next time around.

Stock up on obscure batteries

Most well-organised families keep a stash of AA batteries ready for replenishment, so even if gift givers don't remember to check the packaging and throw in batteries, you might be alright. However, while AAs may be the dominant source of electricity in the toy universe, other options do arise. Having plenty of AAAs and a 9-volt or two can be a useful insurance policy. (I draw the line at LR-44s, which were needed for one present round our way this year.)

Check if you need any extras

Some gifts simply aren't much use without key accessories. A Sony PSP, for instance, really isn't much use if it doesn't have a Memory Stick Pro Duo to accompany it (as I belatedly realised this year). Similarly, If you want the whole family playing with the Wii, then extra controllers are a boon and will minimise squabbling.

Co-ordinate other family members

Of course, getting all those extras can be expensive, so if there's a central gadget on the gift list, line up other family members to supplement it. Someone's getting a new iPod? An iTunes card is easy to post and very useful. If there's a DS under the tree, then there'll need to be a game or two.

Have distractions ready for charging periods

Some gadgets can be used right out of the box, but many need powering up. Plan an activity (whether that's a family walk, heading to church, playing with other gifts, or just eating breakfast) for while it's plugged in and getting ready to go. You could also unpack and charge the night before, but take the recipient's likely reaction into account. On a related note, if you've given a new iPod or other MP3 player, then sitting older kids down for a session of CD ripping can be a useful afternoon break.

Those are the issues I personally ran into this year, but there's bound to be others. Share your best tips for giving tech in the comments and we'll all do better in 2009.


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