A generation ago, kids were delighted to find "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" under the Christmas tree the book by Dr. Seuss, that is. This holiday season, what with the movie just out, the kids will be clamoring for all sorts of Grinch toys.
Buying the perfect gift for the perfect grandchild is always a challenge for grandparents. And grandparents, you won't go wrong with the Grinch's cool seven-function Radio Control Getaway Car. Trust me. Or if you have a younger grandchild to please, there's the animated musical Grinch bank. Both are available at Payson's Radio Shack.
With our new movie theaters opening soon, what could be more fun than a trip to see the Grinch movie with the grandchildren? They are coming for the holidays, aren't they?
Maybe the Grinch doesn't turn you on, though. You're wishing for some ideas that are different, not your run-of-the-mill, mass-produced, every-kid's-got-one gift.
Then, read on.
First, some rules and reminders especially for grandparents: You want the kids to love your gift (even more than what the OTHER grandparents give them), but you don't want to tick off Mom and Dad in the process. Gifting is harder for long-distance grandparents, too. Consider these tips before you start to shop:
Check with the child's parents first. Say you're thinking of a bike for little Joey. Mom and Dad may already have one on hold at the store. For heaven's sake, don't get a pet for a grandchild without checking.
Consider a lasting gift, one that a child can learn how to value.
Know the child's tastes and interests. Don't buy a football for a boy who hates sports but loves science, or a doll for a girl who loves sports and hates dolls.
Kids love the fad of the week, but they'll also love a gift that shows you put thought into it and found something unusual just for them.
Consider where the child lives. A warm, wooly scarf and mittens are great for Payson's cold winters, but Mesa? Not likely. Small town or big city matters, too.
Remember what you gave them previous Christmases, especially if you have several grandkids. Don't do like one step-grandma who sent the same book two years in a row to one kid.
You don't have to spend half your Social Security check to please a child, especially if you're blessed with 18 grandchildren. Let your imagination and creative skills work for you. Of course, if giving expensive gifts make YOU happy, go for it.
Now for some suggestions, most of which can be found right here in Rim country.
Dolls immediately come to mind for granddaughters. Strolling the toy aisles at Wal-Mart is mind-boggling. There's everything from Barbie in dozens of reincarnations to Cabbage Patch dolls to baby dolls that do everything but make dinner await you.
But perhaps you want to get little Becky a really special doll, one that will grow in value as well as sentimentality over the years. Then a visit to Family Mercantile English Country Store is a must. Owner Barbara Pruiksma says her most expensive collectible dolls are made by Sonja's Style, ranging from $200 to $500. Boyd's dolls are the most reasonable at prices in the $30s, with many other types in between, such as Lee Middleton dolls in the $40 range. The Growing Up Dolls at $54 are popular. All of the collectible dolls are beautifully crafted with lifelike features and exquisitely detailed clothes.
"We also have clothes available for the Growing Up Dolls," Barbara said. "We have lots of grandmothers who buy a collectible doll each year for a granddaughter, starting at about age 7."
Anne Glissendorf, sales assistant, loves the collectible bears. "I get attached to certain bears, as well as dolls, and feel sad when they leave the store," she said. The bears come in all sizes and prices. One of the more expensive ones is Cottage Collectible's "Polly," made of mohair, selling for $82.99.
The store also has high-quality miniature china tea sets and Victorian doll furniture and carriages that would delight most any little girl.
Switch channels to electronics. Lorraine White, Radio Shack's manager, is ready for the deluge. "We're the everyone toy store, from age 1 to 51," she said, nodding toward boxes of remote-controlled toy vehicles stacked nearly to the ceiling in the middle of the store. They range from the $200 High-Performance Ford F-150 Monster Truck to 4-wheel action vehicles in the $30 range. Check out the '67 Impala replica with lowrider action, or the Barbie Radio-Controlled 4X4, too.
Girls would be fascinated with the $20 My Secret Diary that opens only with voice password. No more lost keys the day after Christmas. You want to teach a little tyke how to shop? Give her Barbie's talking cash register with a handheld scanner that reads barcodes and displays prices on the screen for about $50.
For kids who love science, Wal-Mart has telescopes, microscopes, planetariums, rock tumblers, model engines, electric hand-launch airplanes, radio kits, metal detectors and butterfly jungles.
Your grandkids are into music? Consider electronic keyboards or karaokes or a favorite CD or CD player. Old-fashioned wind-up music boxes are nice, too.
Kid's computers range from a bilingual talking laptop in Spanish and English for About $40 at Radio Shack to a variety of desktop PCs up to $100 with as many as 60 learning activities. Computer games and software are popular, but consider one that's both fun and educational like The Oregon Trail or Clue Finders 5th Grade Adventures. Another winner is the American Girls Dress Designer CD Rom. The software can be found online or at computer stores.
Kids like things for their room, backpacks for school, jewelry boxes and jewelry. Here's an idea: Give your teen-aged granddaughter a family-heirloom ring or necklace. I know a man whose most prized possession is the rifle that belonged to his grandfather. Why wait for the will to be read?
Why not some cool accessories for his bike or a basket packed with items for her pet dog or cat? Consider crafts kits for your artsy grandchild or an easel and portable box filled with art supplies.
Is your grandchild just a wee one? Loveable Lily is a plush frog that teaches body parts, colors, dress-up skills, and how to tell left from right. She sings, too. There's the Step Start Walk n' Ride, a stable (that's important) walker that converts to a ride-on later. Little tots will love the First Words Phone that lights up with two modes for teaching words and numbers. And best of all, the Whoozit Goodnight Book, for kids who are afraid to go to sleep. A Whoozit toy that squeaks comes with the delightful book. These are all available on eToys.com and in most toy stores.
Don't overlook our Rim Country Museum for children's gifts. How about a Zane Grey video or a book about Arizona's natural wonders? Other good sources for one-of-a-kind gifts are the seasonal boutiques featuring crafts and handmade items to raise money for various organizations in town.
Are you a creative grandma? Sew a poncho, like one grandma I know is doing. Or crochet a wardrobe of clothes for her Barbie dolls like my daughter's grandma did years ago. Or make and send a box of the cookies they love to eat when they visit.
Don't forget the Harry Potter books or the myriad other fine books for children out there. Check out our local bookstores for both new and used gems. Some grandparents cruise the Internet bookstores to get ideas, then ask one of the local bookstores to order them. You can have books gift-wrapped and shipped directly to the recipient by online bookstores.
Another grandma says she's been collecting a series of Civil War books for her teen-aged grandson by buying one each month during the year. She's giving her younger granddaughters kid cookbooks with aprons, chef hats, pot holders and Granny's Cooking School Scholarships. She will give them lessons several times a month and they can invite their friends to come and eat with them when they are ready to cook.
Some long-distance grandparents I know have a video made of themselves reading a story to their grandson each year. What a great keepsake for the whole family.
But a word to the wise. Wrap up a toy to go with that video. Like I said before, you can't go wrong with that Grinch remote-control car.