Not sure about you but before I had children of my own I was pretty bloody useless at buying gifts for friends or relatives who had kids. I consider myself a fairly creative type, but the amount of times I’ve panic bought a Sophie the Giraffe or one of those ubiquitous baby feet and handprint sets displayed a distinct lack of imagination on my part, and I hold my hands up. Sorry!

Therefore, now I’ve been on the receiving end (as the actress said to the bishop), here are some gift ideas for little ones (and not so little ones) that won’t just stay on a bookshelf gathering dust, or get wheeled out whenever the person who bought them comes over for dinner.

Personalised books

sesameOscar The Grouch was my nickname as a paperboy FYI

One of the greatest presents I ever received as a child was a personalised Sesame Street book. As a seven-year-old boy I was mesmerised by the fact that Big Bird knew who I was and that my best friend Vaughn was tight with Oscar the Grouch. Just seeing their name (and those of their friends) printed in a book is enough to keep any kid happy. WARNING: May result in solipsism.

Self help

alainAlain de Botton. Pretentious? Moi? 

Once a dirty word, the notion of ‘self-help’ seems to have morphed into the much more acceptable form of cod-philosophy/mindfulness embodied by Alain de Botton’s School of Life. Easy to dismiss as pretentious, de Botton is actually highly skilled at condensing the teachings of great minds past and present and presenting them in bitesize, easily relatable ways, which can help you deal with the relentless onslaught of life as we know it. From books and classes, to candles, shoes and tote bags, you’ll definitely find some ace gifts here for parents facing a midlife crisis. It’ll also make you look smarter than you actually are.

Lego – now guilt free!

rude-legoFun with Lego!

After the recent announcement that Lego will stop advertising its products in the Daily Mail (after a public campaign calling on big companies to drop adverts from newspapers accused of promoting “hatred, discrimination and demonization”), there’s no better present can you buy the children of right-on parents that some good old Lego sets. Plus, their range is enormous; from Duplo for babies, to Technic, which allows older children to build more advanced stuff like gearboxes and steering systems.

Something she actually wants

mumdaysMum knows best

As much as all you metrosexual dads out these might consider yourselves fashionistas, buying your partner a stylish handbag or designer accessory is a risky business. Therefore, why not opt for something (a) she can choose and (b) might actually allow her to chill the hell out at this hectic time of year. Mumdays offers everything from spa break pamper packages to help around the house from professional cleaners. You could always offer to do the washing up occasionally too you lazy b*stard.

Aquabeads

aqua

What do you mean it sounds like an adult sex toy?

For artistic little souls, Aquabeads come highly recommended. They are tiny colourful beads that bind together when they get wet, so you can create all sorts of lovely things. For younger kids there are even booklets and templates to help them along. My friend Steve still has the dog (he thinks it’s a dog) that his daughter made for him years ago. How sweet!

It’s all about the Benjamins kids!

these-are-the-board-games-you-should-be-playing-right-now-800-body-image-1446624029-size_1000Braap! Good, clean family fun…

Board games are pretty dull, particularly when you’re a young kid. The Cash ‘n Guns board game should keep them entertained and get them used to the harsh realities of inner city life (big up the N10 massive!). Nothing like cartoony violence and foam guns to get the fun started.

You could of course reject the capitalist wet dream that is Christmas. Simply agree that you’re not going to buy any gifts as a family this year, and give your money to a worthwhile cause instead – I hear Syria is in trouble. But whatever you choose to spunk your money on this Christmas, I hope you have a good time.