What gifts should I give my cousins?
October 23, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Giftfilter: I need Christmas gift ideas for three cousins. The eldest is an almost fourteen year old boy, the middle one is a ten year old girl and the youngest is a nearly nine year old boy.

So, I'm a graduate student in the United States who'll be going back home to India over winter break. My uncle and aunt, who are naturalized New Zealanders, will be visiting around the same time, along with their three great kids. The last time I met them was years ago and I'd like to get them each a cool present from here, with the budget for all three being not more than $150.
What I know about them based on previous visits and their parents' emails:
The eldest: Loves playing the guitar, started his own rock band with his friends and has been giving performances. Their band won second place in a school talent contest. He also uses music software to mix his songs and has gotten into 3D animation using the program Cryengine2 (which I don't really know much about). When he visited India in the past I remember him being very into things like insects and dinosaurs as well my Erector set. This was many years ago of course, so I don't know if he's still into that sort of thing. Plays soccer, loves skiing, surfing, mountain biking, all sorts of outdoorsy things. His father seems concerned that he's not into academics and seems to be growing up into "a typical Kiwi kid", but I think he's very smart and that the academics can wait.
The middle kid: Loves horses, horses and horses! Has been obsessed with horses for a while and has finally been getting riding lessons. Also likes buying and selling virtual horses on the net and writing. Her father sent us some samples of the stuff she's been writing, which seem impressive for her age. Plays netball and skis, surfs, bikes etc.
The youngest: Has recently taken up the guitar. Likes to play Scrabble. Plays soccer and softball. Seems to be the one who likes math the most out of the three and skipped a class.
One more thing: my aunt and uncle are very religious Christians. My paternal family is Christian (my mother's side is Hindu), but of a very easygoing sort. I was a little shocked the last time my uncle visited to find that he had an anti-evolution video brought out by the Discovery Institute that he insisted on showing to the entire family. I'm afraid I was rather rude and stalked off to another room at the time. I thought about getting an evolution-related gift but my mother said that I absolutely should not! Still, something science-related would be cool. I'm just afraid that these three really smart kids are going to grow up thinking the Bible is literally true. On the other hand I don't want to turn into that eternally despised person who gave me encyclopedias for my birthday.
posted by peacheater to Shopping (9 answers total)
Forget all that evolution/anti-evolution stuff. Make each child a Marshmallow Gun and hand them each a bag of mini-marshmallows to go with them. You'll be totally awesome and they'll all have a blast with their marshmallow wars.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:11 PM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: sorry . . . I shouldn't have posted so soon . . .

alternately, you could just make the guns for the boys and get the girl a horse-related thing - like Herd Your Horses.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:13 PM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the Herd Your Horses idea Sassyfras -- that sounds like it'd be right up her alley! I'm going to have to pass on the marshmallow guns though -- I'm pretty bad at craft type things.
posted by peacheater at 3:26 PM on October 23, 2008

Peacheater, you might also pick up a copy of the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. It is a classic American book for horse obsessed kids. The oldest might like a t shirt or two from American bands or clubs ... the more obscure the better, I'm thinking. If you want to introduce some science in a fun way then maybe get Pop Bottle Science for the youngest.
posted by gudrun at 5:22 PM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: For the two younger kids: Anything from the "Klutz" book publishers. They have how-to books targeted to kids, on a LOAD of topics, and each book comes with a toy -- the book about "how to knit" comes with needles and yarn, the one about "how to juggle" comes with three juggling balls, the one about "the world's best board games" is a book of the boards for a bunch of different strategy games and it comes with enough game pieces to play all the games in the book...things could be found to suit just about all of them, I'm sure.

The 14-year-old may be a little tricky, just because teenagers just are. Maybe a book about the biography of one of his favorite bands? Or a few books from the "33-1/3" book series? That's a series of small books, each one by a different writer, and each one an in-depth analysis of a particular famous album. Or -- there's a book called "1001 albums you must hear before you die," with reviews of 1001 albums released between the 1930's or thereabouts and about 2003-2004 (whenever the publication date was).

You can see I tend towards books. I've noticed very few people turn down books altogether.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2008

Ignore the evolution stuff. You mean well, but you'll just come off as a dick.

Wait until they outgrow the silliness imparted by their (also well-meaning) parents, and if they don't, you can always attempt to engage them as adults later.

In the mean time, let them be kids and have fun. I like the music-related suggestions most so far, since they're both fun and educational.
posted by rokusan at 6:42 AM on October 24, 2008

When my niece was into horses, she collected toy horses like some girls collect Barbies. She could never get enough of them. If it were me I'd get her a toy barn because it's so cool, but it would probably be a pain for her parents to pack.

Beckham is in America now, so maybe the boys would like good quality Beckham jerseys. I bet the boys back home don't have those.
posted by toastedbeagle at 8:25 AM on October 24, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.
Rokusan, youre probably right that bringing evolution into the gifts would be a dick move -- though I feel that a science-related, even biological-science related gift that's not overtly about evolution would still be appropriate.
For the girl: I love the Herd Your Horses idea. Since she's into trading virtual horses online, she might really like this game. I will also look into the Misty book and toy barn ideas.
For the eldest: So far the suggestion I like the most is the 1001 albums of all time book.
For the youngest: The Klutz books look really cool.

If anyone has any further suggestions, please feel free to comment.
posted by peacheater at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2008

Response by poster: Follow up a month later: I've decided on the Herd Your Horses game for my girl cousin, A Book of Artrageous Projects by Klutz for the youngest and probably the 1001 albums of all time book for the eldest. Thanks for all the help everyone.
posted by peacheater at 7:34 AM on November 23, 2008

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