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If we're being brutally honest, we'd probably have to admit that children are just a little bit spoiled these days, aren't they? Too many electronic gadgety gifts and not enough single walnuts and tangerines if you ask me

Friday, 22 December 2023, 16:27

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Children love Christmas and everything that goes with it, nobody can be in any doubt about that. However, if we're being brutally honest, we'd probably have to admit that they're just a little bit spoiled these days, aren't they? Too many electronic gadgety gifts and not enough single walnuts and tangerines if you ask me.

Given the parlous state of the economy, many families will be attempting to have a more thrifty Christmas this year but, unfortunately, it would almost certainly be too much of a shock to the system to stick a couple of selection boxes under the tree for the nippers with a note attached saying "We know that Twixes are a lot shorter than they used to be but count your blessings, you lucky little tykes. By the way, it's chicken for dinner, love Santa." No, such are the levels of entitlement in the world of the ankle-biters, I fear the ensuing tantrums might register somewhere mid-rangish on the Richter scale. Still, I've found a solution - there are two toy options that won't break the bank and, once the baffled child has come to terms with the fact that they don't need a WiFi connection, will offer hours of endless entertainment.

First, the yo-yo. No human being should ever reach adulthood without mastering at least a handful of yo-yo tricks such as the Sleeper, Rocking The Baby or The Forward Pass. Also, if you mention the fact that 16th-century hunters in the Philippines used primitive yo-yos to hunt animals while sitting up in trees, this will give the gift lashings of added kudos. Divulging this information might well offer the further bonus of your annoying Uncle Dave not making it up the garden path to the front door in one piece for his Boxing Day visit. Fingers crossed.

Next, the harmonica. This is a truly great gift idea because it takes only thirteen seconds of intensive study to reach the level of Bob Dylan and the thing's so portable that you can send the youngsters to practise anywhere very far away indeed until they get to Stevie Wonder standard about two hundred years later.

Choosing either of these two gifts - plus a walnut and a tangerine as a good will gesture - will also leave enough in the kitty for you to get yourself a bottle of finest malt whisky. (Look, I didn't say the harmonica idea was perfect, did I?)

Merry Christmas one and all!

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