I have a confession to make: Christmas gift ideas for children make me nervous. It's not because I don't adore spoiling my own children, but so often other people get it wrong.
Do I sound like an ungrateful brat? Let me explain. Nine times out of ten, instead of a well-designed, age-appropriate kids' toy, my children are inundated with junk.
Bead sets that are marked 'for age 10-plus' - my daughter is five - weapons that wouldn't look out of place in the armed forces and soft-toys based on cartoon characters. Never mind the children, no wonder parents occasionally lose their minds over kids' toys.
Call me old fashioned, but my ethos is simple. Source beautifully crafted kids' toys that aren't just one-hit wonders. Anyone can spend a tenner on the latest TV must-have, but wouldn't it be nicer to invest in illustrated books or finger puppets that are unisex and great for a child's imagination?
Even if you choose the cartoon they actually like, they probably already have the duvet/ lunch-box/ plastic figures. If not, they won't care, or - gasp - will have cared, but six months ago and will now think you're treating them like a baby. Believe me, in planet child there's not much worse than that.
The most successful Christmas ideas for children look gorgeous and come with guaranteed longevity. My daughter's jewellery box with a wind-up dancing clown is played with every night before she goes to bed, unlike the plastic handbag that snapped in two the second she put her treasures inside it.
My son plays endlessly with his wooden fort, hiding everything from wooden knights to toy cars inside. Like the music box, it also looks good in his bedroom - and most mums will admit this is important too.
My advice is to go for the best example of the classic Christmas present ideas for children you can find, or dare to be different. Traditional blocks, a pull-along hand-painted animal, a china tea-set or play tent, wrapped simply in brown-paper and tied with a coloured ribbon will look far cooler than the army of flashing chunks of plastic kids' toys given by almost everyone else. Wouldn't you be happy if your birthday presents lasted a lifetime?