What's the holiday season without toys?
Just imagine a Christmas tree without beautifully wrapped packages underneath it or a Hanukkah menorah-lighting ceremony that isn't followed by the handing out of gifts.
Sure, there are other factors that children love about the holiday season—building snowmen, going to parties, decorating the tree, singing songs, helping out in the kitchen, looking at lights in the neighborhood, even going to church or temple. But for most kids, it all boils down to how much loot they get.
Of course, some kids don't care what they get, others write out incredibly detailed lists, and still more hold out hope for gifts they know that Santa even on his best day would think twice about delivering, such as a grenade launcher, pet boa constrictor, or a magic powder to make their brother or sister disappear.
One gift that, for the right little girl or boy, would certainly count as the "best present ever" would be a pony. Unless they live on a ranch in Montana or some comparable place, many parents know that giving a pony entails vast supplementary expenses such as stabling and tack. But horses also teach responsibility and for some lucky kids, as long as their parents don't balk at the $10,000 price tag, may we suggest a pure-bred Shetland pony?
It's tough sometimes to tell who the present is actually for. If a father insists on giving his three-year-old son a custom Lionel train set, odds are Junior didn't get a vote. But for older children (of all ages) a classic train set is the stuff of dreams. The Lionel custom set is designed jointly by the client and the company to produce the perfect layout for any household space. Price? Plan on spending well north of $5,000.
To enhance the home in a less obvious way, get the wooden kitchen from ultimate luxury toymaker FAO Schwarz. For $695, the kiddies will play chef like they've never done before. Made in the Czech Republic by expert craftsmen and carpenters, the kitchen is extremely realistic, just smaller than an adult version. For example, the oven's door actually works and the sink has a real faucet fixture. Just don't let the kids try to fool you that they've washed their hands their, as water doesn't really trickle out.
Though they'll be spending plenty of time playing indoors or out in the snow this winter, kids should take advantage of calm weather while it's still here (at least in some parts of the country). For the future automobile enthusiasts, go for a car. Well, not a real car, but a gift that looks like one. BMW offers a mini 6-Series convertible in a metallic shade of red. At $250, the car seems a steal compared to what you could be spending when your child turns 17. A classic Louisville Slugger baseball bat is a classic that will never go out of style. Better still, you can get your gift recipient's name etched on the bat for a total of $49.
There's the tangible and then there's the intangible. A first (or second or third) trip to Walt Disney's (DIS) Disney World is magical for any young person. Plus, we're sure you could use a vacation too, and somewhere sunny like Orlando, Fla., wouldn't hurt.
Sure, it's nice to think about the under-18 crowd during this time of year, but there are also adults to buy for. Other installments of BusinessWeek.com's gift guide series includes delectable foods (see BusinessWeek.com, 11/16/06, "Food for Thoughtful Gifts"); car-related products (see BusinessWeek.com, 11/10/06, "Gifts with Vroom"); luxurious beauty and grooming products (see BusinessWeek.com, 11/03/06, "Presents for Pampering"); and hot fashions (see BusinessWeek.com,10/26/06, "Giving the Gift of Style").
But don't get too wrapped up in the adults in your life this season. Children really need the lovin' during the holidays.
Click here to see top toys for girls and boys.