No It All Gift Guide for Boys (Ages 5-8)

Let’s face it, we’ve all noticed the marked parallels between Santa Claus and the other omnipotent, omnipresent bearded man up north.  He sees you when you’re sleeping?  He knows when you’re awake?  Surrounded by a group of devout followers… and everything captured carefully in an enormous book.  If you don’t follow his rules and do exactly as he says… straight to a toy-free inferno full of coal, and not the mythical clean kind, mind you.

Jake has always been a bit of a skeptic.  But this year, he’s become exceedingly more brazen and unabashed.  Fortunately his interest in video games has kept him just barely in check.  Though he did tell me he used Google Earth to scan the entire North Pole and did not see any signs of Santa’s house.  Good thing is, not believing in Santa Claus is the fastest route to Christmas morning disappointment.  And given how tired I am from this year of moving, Jake better be careful I don’t just approve Santa’s pending PTO request.

Now listen up Santa’s helpers!  Most of these ideas have already been placed in Santa’s warehouse, or carefully doled-out to relatelves.  Please contact your local representative should you have an inquiry for the big man upstairs.

This year’s gift guide is a little simpler than in years past.  Ages 5 and 7 are definitely dawning on a new era of interest in sports and electronics and Pokémon t-shirts.  Sticking with last year’s categories, a few ideas for those looking for a bit of curated inspiration.

And now, the 2016 No It All Gift Guide for Boys (Ages 5-8):


Nintendo 3DS XL:This year, on more than one occasion, I’ve been told “I want an Xbox360 or nothing.”  Imagine the dramatic, slow-motion whipping of the hair and matching furrowed brow.  I’m doing my best to casually weave-in stories of how I got my first video game console when I was THIRTEEN, after losing my house to a thunderous shaking of the earth, no doubt caused by an angry Santa Claus.  James had the brilliant idea of easing into this video game obsession with something we can still easily rip from the grasp of the furrowed brow, and place on a high shelf, out of reach.  Cue the Nintendo 3DS XL.  According to a few surreptitious hours of 5am internet research (I still haven’t adjusted to the time change… and am reluctantly missing those hours on Caltrain), Nintendo apparently still has the decided lead in handheld gaming.  Seems that Gameboy thing really gave them a leg up.  Nintendo doesn’t appear to currently possess the brand recognition and cache on the 2016 second grade playground as Xbox or Playstation.  Good thing for them, 1990 Santa is still infallibly loyal to the Mario Brothers… Mario Mario and Luigi Mario.

Battleship: Looking to assert total Y Camp domination?  Look no further.

Boogie Boards: According to Maestra Irion, Nate refuses to sing with enthusiasm in kindergarten.  Probably because he sings with an unrelenting vengeance at home.  Lately he’s been singing this song that includes the line “boogie par’ abajo.”  Which I gather is Spanglish for “the twist.”  In any case… Yes it’s November.  Yes the boys go into the ocean up to their necks every weekend.  Yes I think they’d love to boogie par’ abajo on their very own boogie boards.


Stick-lets: Given we’ve recently moved to a place with more sticks than the Blair Witch, these look to be just the ticket for hours of outdoorsy fort-building, video-game-free fun.  Send them out with these plastic doohickies and an old sheet and tell them not to come back until they’ve built something better than Minecraft.

Insulated lunch bags: Everyone is walking around with the blue insulated lunch satchel from Target.  Everyone.  Despite the fun of your water bottle immediately plummeting through the achilles heel of this bag’s mesh side holder, and the thrill of opening one’s lunchbox at home, only to discover unfamiliar sandwich baggies of someone else’s half-eaten cast-offs, it’s time for a change.  These insulated bags, from a company based in Santa Cruz, may just pass the “cool” test… Santa recommends the “shredder” or “shark camo” designs.

Old-fashioned pencil sharpener: Have you heard the joke about the pencil?  Never mind… it’s pointless.  Ha!  Jake really got me with that one while we were in line for the Polar Express this weekend.  In any case, we generally find all of our homework pencils are as dull as today’s newspaper funnies.  This one has the added benefit of being able to screw it to the wall so you can actually find it.

Ninja erasers: Is your living room full of mini ninjas practicing their Kempo five-point blocking system?  Get it?  Five-point?!  Tough crowd…  The perfect complement to the sharpener above.


Nerf N-Strike Elite Vision Gear: Someday I hope to one day meet a Nerf product manager and learn first-hand the process by which they develop the names for their line of foam weaponry and munitions.  And given the proliferation of the arms race, one can never have too much protective eyewear.  I’ve taken to wearing it religiously on weekends and anytime I’m not sleeping.  It’s especially helpful when we invite friends over to fight.  I mean play.  Just this afternoon, Kai was clearly handicapped by having to wear the suffocating Clone Halloween helmet as protection.  Meanwhile, I don’t think Nate felt as menacing as he wanted in his swim goggles.

“Cool” pajamas: You may be trying to overlook the fact that the little people in your life are wearing thread-bare capris to bed.  These may be the one time worth a Hanna Andersson splurge.  High quality Star Wars nightwear… quite possibly the only time when “cute Clone” is not an oxymoron.

Elastic headlamps: I know, I know… another guide with a flashlight recommendation?  The perfect stocking stuffer… you’ll see.

KEENS: I am a firm believer that money spent on little boys shoes, other than Keens, might as well be burned for warmth.  We once spent our hard earned “plata” on a pair of light-up Captain America shoes based on an enthusiastic, but ill-informed recommendation from a dad at swimming lessons… only to have them transform, with superhuman speed, into garbageski.  Knowing how to tie shoelaces is so overrated… bungee corded, indestructible shoes with toes like tractor tires?  Super.  Unfortunately Zappos delivered these in less than 24 hours and they’ve been put to immediate use.

Crocs: Crocs may be the Birkenstocks or the Tevas of tomorrow, but let’s get one thing straight.  They are cheap, they are plentiful, and they are one of the best things that ever happened to us.  Fast, sock free and virtually indestructible– they’re great for all kinds of tootsies, from fat, little, square toddler feet, to the bony talons of primary schoolers.


The Book Elf is experiencing a bit of an identity crisis.  He is currently neck deep in a multi-year change management initiative, transitioning several small and somewhat resistant youngsters to the magnificent and magical world of…   Reading to Oneself!  You may have sworn, in your teenage years that you’d never be caught dead anywhere near that comic store near Zoccoli’s.  Chalk it up to teen angst and march your fanny in there.

Graphic Novels: The graphic novel section is a treasure trove of reading incentives including the captivating picture book biography series on everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Lucille Ball.  Another great find is Hilo, an age-appropriate series authored by an original 1993 Real World San Francisco cast member.  Teen you would surely approve.

Please give my best to Santa, and let him know, Jake’s looking for him…

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