Bonus points if it can go off at 3:30 am.
November 23, 2010 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Chrismahannukwanzaafilter: My sister has yet to send a real wishlist for my nieces, and the naughty uncle, Mister Fabulous, wants to make her pay in sanity! What is the most annoying toy for this holiday season?

My nieces are 4 and 2. They live 2000 miles away. My sister sent a wishlist for Christmas, and listed several things for herself and her husband. She listed for one niece: A Dora doll and books; my younger niece: books. I kind of think it was selfish of her to think that she could specify all sorts of things for herself (specific clothes, perfume, electronics) but wants her kids to have books. Only books. While I can appreciate wanting them to be educated, I doubt a 2 year old is going to want to read endlessly for the next year.
As a result, Mister Fabulous has decided that the kids need to have toys. The kind of toys that will drive a parent up the wall due to the sounds they make. The kind of toys that can be heard across a house and through the walls. The kind of toys a kid can truly cherish for years to come. I ask of you, MeFites, what can I send these girls to make them happy and my sister crazy?
My mom already got the Dora doll, it's out. Elmo is out, too. I am in Portland, OR so store selection is great. Budget is around $50 apiece.
posted by Mister Fabulous to Shopping (51 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Any dolls of the singing variety should do nicely. I nominate the Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus dolls. ;)

You could also go retro and get them both Furbies with plenty of spare batteries for months of endless torture awesome family bonding!
posted by patronuscharms at 12:31 AM on November 23, 2010

As a parent, I have three things to say to you. Feel free to ignore #1.

1) Her sin is far less egregious than the one you're planning.
2) BardophileJr's (turning 4 next month) tolerance for toys that make annoying sounds is a lot lower than mine. Your gifts may get rejected out of hand.
3) Next year, tell her she must include something on the wishlist that is purely entertaining, rather than edifying. There's even time for her to still do that, should you wish to reconsider your nefarious plan. :)

(bardophile has brothers and therefore no hopes that MisterFabulous will actually reconsider)
posted by bardophile at 12:37 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

If her kids are 4 and 2, your sister can easily arrange to have toys she doesn't enjoy removed. I doubt if she dislikes the gifts that they will last long in her home.

My suggestion is to give the one niece a Dora doll - find a talking one, if you like, and cool books that they'll love, and will get to keep. Write lovely things in the front of the books, so they can always remember they are from you. Write in big, simple letters, and short, simple words, and soon they will be able to read the inscriptions by themselves.
posted by Ellemeno at 12:59 AM on November 23, 2010

If you want annoying the answer has to be drums.
posted by 6550 at 1:15 AM on November 23, 2010

posted by Ignorance at 1:37 AM on November 23, 2010

Dude. Seriously?

Don't be THAT guy. I would eschew the "let's punish Sister Fabulous for being selfish and give her kids toys she will be annoyed by" approach. Nothing good will come of it. Karma, vengeance, etc and all that.

That said, I like to give my neice (who's now 4) presents that foster imagination and creative play-- Lego/Duplo, etc. A toy castle and some dolls/figures & accesssories might be in order. You can pick out a princess-y one if that's your/their thing. Or not.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:38 AM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

1. My 2yo absolutely adores books. Spends days looking through, leafing through, and being read from them. She's supercareful with them too. The more books the better; favorites rotate weekly.
2. Toy musical instruments, like a harmonica or a toy piano, can be both cute/nice/inspring and bloody annoying. Drums tend a bit too much towards the latter.
posted by gijsvs at 1:47 AM on November 23, 2010

There are those supercool sound books they had when I was a kid. Like, you were reading the story, and all of a sudden there was a little picture right there in the text? And the picture corresponded to a button on the side of the book that jutted out from the rest so it would always be there. And you would push the button and there would be a sound, related to the story! The one I remember was the sound of bubbles, in my sister's Little Mermaid book. Those were freaking awesome and I'm sure helped me learn to read as early as I did.
posted by Night_owl at 2:04 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Buy them noisy books! There's a great range of books with electronic buttons and squeaky toys in any bookstore or department store book section.

My kids had one about Clifford The Big Red Dog that drove me nucking futs. "Good dog, Clifford!" wears thin after the 400th replay every day.

And by the way, I think every kid needs a relative who buys the fun annoying stuff that their parents won't.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:06 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm down with this, my sister and I love to torture each other through the gifts we buy each others kids. This year for my girl's second birthday we got a huuuuge Play-Doh set. Ever try to get that stuff out of carpet? Oh yeah, luv ya, sis.

The sound books are also great, especially when the kid likes a particular sound and that's all you hear all day - the damn cow moo-ing over and over and over and......
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:52 AM on November 23, 2010

The world's most annoying rubber chicken:
posted by Harald74 at 2:56 AM on November 23, 2010

Seconding the drum kit :)
posted by hardcode at 2:57 AM on November 23, 2010

I got my 4 yo son the deluxe toy story Woody doll for something like 40 dollars. Perhaps the Jessie doll for a girl? It is truly beautiful, my husband had a double take reaction when he saw it, it looked like right our of the movie.
posted by uauage at 2:57 AM on November 23, 2010

That is all.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 3:38 AM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]

The best way to annoy her is not to send anything. The two year old will not notice. Four, I'm not so sure. But I guarantee Mom will be quietly (or noisily) pissed, even if she doesn't say anything.

On the other hand, is getting her pissed really what you want? Wouldn't you just rather she make it more of a priority? Call her. Tell her, I'm sorry I know you're busy, but today is the last day of my Christmas shopping. I need an idea, stat, anything will do. Then get what she tells you and don't worry about whether it's the world's most awesome idea or not. Feel free to include some add-ons of your own if you don't think it's enough.

Coming up with gift ideas is hard for some people. Finding the time to make contact is hard for other people. Both seem like such simple things from the other one's perspective. But they're not. So do try to accommodate. Pretend you're a call-center worker on a fact-finding mission. Stick strictly to business and do not get off the phone until mission is accomplished. It really shouldn't take that long once you've actually got her on the phone.
posted by Ys at 3:57 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I once ordered a bunch of stuff out the Archie McPhee catalog -- back when it had more cheap toys and fewer weird flavors of gum. Anyway, I concentrated on stuff that would make noise. So, three kazoos in different colors, those party things that you swing and make noice and sparks, a bunch of whistles, one of those thingys that pretends to sound like a cow... lots of small, cheap toys. I then got a giant box, filled it with packing peanuts and mixed in the toys. Then I shipped the whole thing off to my friend's son. He was 6 or so, if I remember correctly.

As I predicted, when he realized that the toys where scattered in the peanuts, he started tossing the packing peanuts in the air looking for the toys. And then, he played with the toys until his parents were both losing their minds. It was beautiful. I got a call from my friend's wife a few days later saying she could understand why I would want to wreck vengeance on her husband, but asking what she had ever done to me. Collateral damage, hon. Collateral damage.

Anyway, that's what I did.

Oh, yeah, the kid still talks about what a cool gift that was. And it's been ... a long time.
posted by driley at 4:13 AM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]

What about the perennial favourite, the fart cushion? The four year old should love it.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My kids have that Screaming Flying Monkey! (It's right up there with their stuffed tarantula - which screams loudly when you squeeze it - for annoyance value.) I'd highly recommend it.

What a shame that Elmo is out. I used to wake up terrified when he would randomly start giggling in the middle of the night. Stupid haunted Elmo, scaring a single parent who didn't have a big brave man to check that it wasn't actually possessed. The kids thought it was hilarious.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:23 AM on November 23, 2010

Last year my son got an knockoff Air Hogs car that runs on the walls. It has to be the noisiest thing ever. On the walls the noise is amplified 10x. It's not really in the demographic or budget for your nieces, but that is the noisiest thing in my house. It doesn't get used very often though.

Most irritating thing would be the Wizards of Waverly Place Wand that my 10 year old daughter has. The sounds that come out of that stupid plastic stick had to have been specially designed to irritate the hell out of adults. My two year old thinks it's the best thing EVAR and is constantly pushing that stupid button. When the batteries die I will do a little dance. If you are truly evil you will get them each one of those wands, books about wizards, and a Wizards of Waverly Place video. Then you are assured they will use those wands constantly.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:24 AM on November 23, 2010

What? Books are rad. Especially picture books. Even if you're two and and just look at all the pictures without really knowing the story. I remember some of my childhood picture books with a lot more fondness than my toys.

(Also, it's very possible that the kids really do want books, or your sister doesn't want you to spend a ton of money on the kids, or they've already got the "big" presents planned for them.)

Anyway, I've got a couple of suggestions that might sit well with you while still staying within the book guidelines:

Annoying as fuck: those fucking books with the little sound-effects buttons on the sides, as mentioned above. Great fun for kids, torture for everyone else. They came around after I was a kid and when I started babysitting, so I have zero love for them. I'd rather buy a kid a pack of Marlboros. (Not really. But almost.)

Cherished for years to come (but still possibly annoying): If they don't have a copy of The Monster at the End of this Book, get them one. Best kids' book ever. It's not silent reading time, either: plenty of opportunity for YOU TURNED THE PAGE!! screaming and raucous laughter. Look for other books that the kid can interact with without sound effects, too. We loved A Squirrel's Tale and There's a Mouse about the House, which both have little critters that you slip through the pages as you move the story along. The back cover on each book reads "LET'S DO IT AGAIN!" so you might be stuck in a perpetual loop of squirrel storytelling. Your nieces aren't exactly looking to sit in the corner with The Brothers Karamozov; a lot of books for young children have a heavy element of play to them - and often still require a parent to help with the reading part. Books like that tend to be the best-loved by kids, and have the highest annoyance potential for the parents who have to read/listen to them four times a day.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:31 AM on November 23, 2010 [11 favorites]

My kids have that Screaming Flying Monkey! (It's right up there with their stuffed tarantula - which screams loudly when you squeeze it - for annoyance value.) I'd highly recommend it.

I bought it for my 30 something brother, who took it to work. It is so fun, and so shrill. I think the four year old will dig it, and the two year old will dig watching it. I found it when I was at my nadir of my Christmas shopping one year in a bed/bath type of shop. Truly a Christmas miracle.

If she has cats, it will freak the fuck out of them too :)
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:39 AM on November 23, 2010

Toy drum and caffeinated candy.
posted by scruss at 4:42 AM on November 23, 2010

Motorized fire trucks with REAL ACTION SOUND are usually great- they come with sirens, back up noises, and so on. Nothing says the day after Christmas like the sound of a fire truck blaring away in a garbage can.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:49 AM on November 23, 2010

My friend's little boy had this toy set and he loved it. It is well made and makes for a nice parade.
posted by InkaLomax at 4:53 AM on November 23, 2010

Oh, you want to get them Singamajigs.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 5:03 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I bought my 2yo sister a beautiful brass bell for Christmas one year ;-)
posted by jannw at 5:08 AM on November 23, 2010

Perhaps a few years from now, they'll be ready for A Week's Worth Of Whoopee. (Scroll down.)

"A gallimaufry of gags, the prankster's pantheon. Our seven-day selection of sophomoric stupidity includes a joy buzzer, a bottle of disappearing ink to spill on someone's white shirt, candy that turns to blood in your mouth, a pack of gum with a mousetrap inside, a nice fake nail to put through a finger, a fly-in-the-ice cube, and the American classic whoopee cushion. Add some rubber vomit and you've got enough gifts to get through Channukah."

Data point: My little ones always loved the self-inflating whoopie cushion. My son, older and heavier, would flop down on it and his little baby sister would HOWL with laughter.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:16 AM on November 23, 2010

I would recommend going with something stealth-annoying, something that on the surface looks like something a person would want their children to have, something beautifully made and educational and developmentally stimulating.

Like, say a Band In A Box. And a Beginner Band Set.

Personally I think it's kind of okay to be that guy. I know I was Bad Auntie for a while, before I had kids, buying my friends' kids crazy stuff and filling them full of sugar. It's a rite of passage. And some day, if you have kids, your sister will get to tease you about how you used to be the cool uncle, but now you're Mister No Refined Sugar. I wouldn't want to deprive her of that future chance.
posted by padraigin at 5:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My in-laws bought my 3 year old son a complete set of drums for Christmas when I had a newborn that year. I was not too happy. My sister-in-law always liked to buy noisy things to bother us. The kids loved them and they only bothered my husband, so I think she was disappointed that I was fine with those things! The one he hated the most was a child's keyboard that also had preset tunes it would play over and over. This was for the 2-5 year old age so that might work.

I got my 14 year old son the Screaming Monkey for Christmas because his whole list was for non-toys. I think everyone needs at least one toy for Christmas, no matter their age. It was (and is) a huge hit - except it drives my husband crazy.

I would also recommend things like crafts that will keep them busy. My kids and my nieces love doing crafts. You can buy the kits or just pick all sorts of things you think they would like. If you want to bug your sister, you can pick the really messy ones. It isn't just noisy things that bothers some parents!
posted by maxg94 at 5:21 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, I would like to join the chorus and add that my 18-month-old's Christmas list is mostly books, because HE LOVES BOOKS. He spends all day shuttling them across the room from his bookshelf to the nearest adult and then shoving everything off your lap so he can climb up in it and get you to read to him. Other than books he likes trucks-for-toddlers and we already own about 25 of those. We really struggled to come up with some toy things we thought he'd PROBABLY like, but really what he wants to do right now is read and play with trucks, and we're kind-of at truck critical mass. (The other thing is, he's a first grandchild on both sides ... he has as many toys as a two-year-old needs. He already doesn't play with half of them, even when we rotate them so different toys are out. Books can grow with him.)

My son particularly likes books with touchy, texturey things -- like the Usborne "That's Not My X" series. If you want to get a book the 2-year-old will like rather than an instrument of parental torture.

When it comes to noisy toys, if we think they're inappropriate (age-wise, usually), we just donate them. And if we don't like the noises, we just take the batteries out. He doesn't know the difference.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:55 AM on November 23, 2010

Oh! For New Year's: Wooden Noise Maker.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:56 AM on November 23, 2010

You could always buy them obnoxious children's books, like Dinosaur versus the Potty and I Stink!
posted by headspace at 6:46 AM on November 23, 2010

Tickle-Me Elmo would be a hit, and also probably kind of annoying. You can be a little passive-aggressive and get the kids plenty of Raffi and other cds of kids music. I quite like Raffi, but many adults tire of kids music quickly. Please get things the kids will love, regardless of their Mom's list. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street is a lovely video and would make a good addition to Elmo.

Get their Mom lots of books, including several to read aloud to the kids. Of course, I love books, so I think they're the best gift .
posted by theora55 at 7:13 AM on November 23, 2010

You know, some kids like books a lot! And most middle/upper-class American kids already have more toys than they know what to do with.
posted by mkuhnell at 7:14 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mister Fabulous is not as evil and nefarious as some are thinking. My point isn't to piss off my sister as much as it is to be the uncle who fills them with sugar and a wee bit of caffeine and gives them the cool toy, the shiny toy, the possibly annoying toy.

As for books, I love suggestions from lots of people here, especially the books with noises. I have sent them several books in years past as every child needs a Dr. Seuss collection.

And they are so getting a Screaming Flying Monkey. I might get me a Screaming Flying Monkey.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 7:16 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Another obnoxious children's book that my daughter and I both loved is Dr. Dog. (Especially awesome if your sister is a delicate flower who doesn't approve of poop and fart jokes).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:21 AM on November 23, 2010

I guess I'm a little late to the party now, but I just wanted to put in another plug for noisy books. I LOVED noisy books when I was a young'un. The keywords you seem to want here are sound book and songbook; here are a few examples. You'd be following the letter of the law while still getting the annoyance factor in.

And yes, I also just loved reading books books books, and I definitely still love the childrens' books I loved as a kid. Books are good gifts! Can I suggest Stellaluna and The Salamander Room? I also love There's a Monster at the End of this Book mentioned above. And basically anything here. Can you tell I wish I had a young relation to buy books for?
posted by pemberkins at 7:28 AM on November 23, 2010

Another vote for the Screaming Flying Monkey. My Mom got them for Dad, Sister and me as part of our stocking loot one Christmas and it remains the best. stocking. stuffer. ever.
posted by heathergirl at 7:41 AM on November 23, 2010

Wha..., buying slightly annoying loud gifts is a tradition in my family. All in good fun.

My nieces have gotten tons of toy musical instruments, guitar and drums, and loud talking moving Sesame Street dolls. I recently got a friend's kid a toy keyboard that plays a song in three languages, English, Spanish, and Cat (it meowed). That was a fantastic find.

By next Christmas we'll have our first child, and I'm worried about retaliation.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 8:17 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's another musical suggestion. I was about 4 years old when I got my first recorder. I actually tried to play it properly most of the time (it came with a book of all the music from The Little Mermaid, how cool is that?). But sometimes, it was so satisfying to just take the thing apart and blow into the mouthpiece as loud as possible. It makes a really lovely (and loud, did I mention LOUD) shriek.

Oh look, I found almost the same thing on Amazon. Three music books, one wonderfully shrieky instrument.
posted by pemberkins at 8:22 AM on November 23, 2010

Can be heard across the house? Check
Fun? Check
Adored for years? Check
Goes off at 3am? Check
Drive mom crazy? Check.

Sounds like these girls need a puppy.

Note: this is mostly in jest, as one should never gift pets as a surprise.
posted by mrsshotglass at 8:30 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not annoying - but still fun and useful and kinda techie:

Tag Reader by LeapFrog.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2010

An aside to the whole annoying, loud stuff : if it's too loud and annoying in my household the toys usually somehow disappear. Just saying, don't spend good money on something that may just inexplicably "disappear" because it's too dang annoying.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:48 AM on November 23, 2010

wants her kids to have books. Only books. While I can appreciate wanting them to be educated, I doubt a 2 year old is going to want to read endlessly for the next year.

I think you may be misinterpreting your sister: I have a one-year-old who wants to read endlessly. He has tons of books, and asks to be read to all day long. He has preferences and favorites. I'm asking everyone to get him more books for Christmas, because he LOVES books. He likes other toys OK, but he spends far far more time with his books than with anything else. I guess it's a bonus that he's getting "educated" but really, books are his favorite toy.
posted by agent99 at 9:44 AM on November 23, 2010

30 some years ago, my aunt bought my brother and me Hungry Hungry Hippos for Christmas.

I don't think my mom has ever forgiven her, not entirely.
posted by hms71 at 11:08 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I got everyone ukuleles and knock knock joke books last year.

Nobody could possibly fault you for that. At least not for the knock knock book. They don't make noise, and you can feign wide-eyed innocence when your niblings turn into tiny, warped Arthur Godfreys.

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Orange banana, uh, hm. IT'S ME! HAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHA! (four-year-old bails out of flaming joke for the nineteenth time in a row, strumming atonally and cackling.)

posted by Sallyfur at 11:08 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Barfing Jabba the Hutt?

It's even more fun when they learn that they can run their morning cheerios through it. :)
posted by Citrus at 11:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My office loved the screaming monkey.

And my cousins did this kind of toy war thing to each other, so I say okay :)
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:15 PM on November 23, 2010

I got my niece a toy accordion one year; I'm still proud of that. Now she's 11 so I introduce her to weird songs for her ipod; she's a big J.Coulton fan (a little dated, yes, but a preteen loving "Tom Cruise Crazy" is hilarious).
everyone in my family is getting a screaming monkey now.
posted by maryrussell at 6:04 PM on November 23, 2010

Get them Mo Willems' Pigeon books accompanied by the plush Pigeon that wails "Let me drive the bus!!!!" when squeezed.
posted by brujita at 9:57 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just walk down the toy aisle and press buttons. You're sure to find annoyances.

When I used to babysit for my neighbor's then-3-year-old, he had a Fisher Price jungle playset (similar to this one). Each of the animals played sounds. Well, the bird did AN ENTIRE VERSE of that song "the more we get together the happier we'll be" song. I never knew a toy bird tweeting a song could sound snooty, but it did. The thing drove me so crazy I'd hide it in his older sister's room whenever I watched him.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:08 AM on November 24, 2010

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