Fathers with children know that while the mother might be responsible for the Christmas purchases and preparation, what happens with gifts after Christmas is often up to Dad. Toys need assembled and electronics connected and kids being kids, they each want their own thing done first. So after some years of experience, I have a "toolkit" of things that I make sure are available for Christmas Day and the day after.
The PracticalDad Toolkit
- Phillips head screwdrivers in regular size – think bicycles and outside toys – and also smaller versions to unscrew the backs of electronic games.
- A wrench set for whatever outside toys come along – again think bicycles or basketball nets.
- Several sets of AA, AAA, C and D batteries for the electronic devices. A good rule of thumb is to count in advance what gifts require batteries and then get approximately four times the numbers of batteries. For example, if there are three handheld games not requiring a power cord, then purchase 12 AA batteries for use.
- Several rolls of tape of all varieties. This not only includes scotch tape, but also duct tape and painters tape. The painters tape is especially helpful in marking electronic cords that might have to be removed and then reinstalled with the new TV or other component. My eldest didn’t take it well when she wanted to just yank the cords from the back of the TV prior to moving it; I explained that systems with multiple components and cables can be truly messed up if the cords aren’t properly placed. Despite her protest, I’m still waiting for her to do it.
- Pen and notepaper for keeping a list of what has to be assembled. The children aren’t usually forgiving when they think that they’re being replaced in the assembly loop and you may actually want to let the kids choose a random number to help decide whose toy is completed first. This eliminates tne grousing about how "Dad loves Johnny more than me."
- A supply of zip-lock bags in sandwich and storage sizes to hold gamepieces, action figure parts and trading/playing cards.
- An envelope for each child to hold money and gift cards. The contents can be labelled on the named envelope and it can be kept in a central location so that the contents aren’t thrown out with the trash. Been there, done that…
- A large supply of patience. You’re going to multitask and being kids, they’ll think that the world turns on their ability to play with the presents. This will also include mouthy, occasionally disrespectful commentary.
As a side-note, it’s helpful to share notes with your mate before Christmas Day’s arrival so that you can have a sense of what’s coming and how to best make things work – scheduling wise, that is.
You’re likely to be tired afterwards, but it’s worth the time and headache and the kids will wonder how Dad is able to manage to put the stuff together so effortlessly.