It’s perhaps a silly thing to get sentimental about, but when I found out that a photo of Pickle was the background on my brother’s phone, I felt strangely proud. Not of Pickle, but of my brother. Does that sound weird? I’m very lucky to have three younger brothers, and when I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure how fussed they’d be. None of them have long term partners or any immediate plans to start a family (as far as I know!), and so I had no idea how they’d react to becoming Uncles. And even less of an idea of how they’d behave once they were Uncles.
Our family is fairly big – bigger than average, I’d say. My Mum is one of four children, and my Dad is one of five. That means, once we take into account marriages and partners, we have about twelve Aunts and Uncles (I say about because, you know, sometimes relationships break down or new ones are formed!), and eighteen cousins which feels like quite a lot. It’s got me thinking about what the roles of our extended family are. What kinds of relationships should you have with your Aunts and Uncles, and how do I help form the bond with Pickle and his Aunts and Uncles?
At the moment, Pickle is completely spoiled by his Aunts and Uncles! And never is this more apparent than on his birthday. And let’s face it, buying presents for other people’s children is really hard, isn’t it? First off, there’s the pressure of not buying something wildly inappropriate. Then choosing something that will be a hit with the recipient child. And then the biggest one: getting something parent friendly (or not, depending on how much you actually like the parent – it can be the biggest passive aggressive move to lovingly buy a child the nosiest toy possible). It’s difficult to find the balance sometimes between something that’s developmentally appropriate and educational, whilst being fun and exciting.
But for this year’s birthday, one of Pickle’s Uncles was given a bit of a lifeline: the Wicked Uncle gift service, an online retailer that acts as a one stop shop for present buying for children of all ages – you can filter the gifts they recommend by age, gender (if you’re into that kind of thing) and interests.
We have scoured the world to find a really useful selection of fun, unusual and different presents for children. We test every potential present before it goes on our website – we build the robot kits, paint the fairies, doodle with the pens, play the games and yes, we even wear the t-shirt! We can giftwrap your presents, send them direct with a handwritten birthday or Xmas card and even send you a birthday reminder every year.
When Wicked Uncle got in touch, asking us to test out their service – I knew it made perfect sense to ask his Uncle Will to do the honours, seeing as he’s currently working abroad in Australia. He’s actually got a pretty good track record of buying really thoughtful and well received gifts (like when he had a photo from Pickle’s Non-Christening Christening printed onto a canvas for my Christmas present), so I knew it’d be a good person to give his opinions on the service.
I gave him a £40 budget, and set him off on his mission to pick out a gift or gifts for Pickle that would cement his status as a ‘Wicked’ Uncle. And just as I got a bit emotional when I found out Pickle was my other brother’s screensaver, I was a little teary eyed when Uncle Will sent through his thoughts on the service in an email… I honestly had no idea he thought his presents through so much.
Here’s what he had to say:
Usually when I’m looking for gifts for Pickle, I go off and read what sort of toys are most suitable for his current age in terms of helping him develop. I found the Wicked Uncle site really easy to use with a decent selection without being too overwhelming.
The age filters are really helpful. I did check with a third party site to confirm they had the right recommendations, which they did! Based on the recommendations from that article, I opted for a construction based toy and a musical instrument (sorry in advance!).
When the gifts arrived, they were beautifully wrapped. The wrapping paper was a really lovely quality, and it was almost a shame to let Pickle tear it off. I think he must have thought so too, as he opened both presents very carefully.
Wooden Mini Xylophone
The first gift we opened was this cute wooden mini xylophone, complete with two wooden beaters. Pickle wasted no time getting stuck in and really enjoyed bashing away, giggling as he did so. He absolutely loves playing with the drums and percussion instruments at Rhythm Time and as musical toys go: I’d much rather listen to a xylophone being bashed than some horribly tinny musical jingle. Good call, Uncle Will.
Light Stax Building Blocks
Now, if you’re looking to earn some ‘cool’ Aunt or Uncle points, this gift will definitely earn you a fair few. After another careful unwrapping, Pickle and I were both delighted to see some light up building blocks!
The Light Stax blocks are compatible with regular Duplo, but when built upon their special black base, they light up and shine! From looking at their website, the bricks have already won lots of awards and it’s easy to see why. They’re just cool.
Pickle loved building up a tower before pressing the button on the base to make it light up, with options for it to blink and glow. At the moment, Pickle is just quite happy building a tower as tall as he can, but the possibilities are really vast with this toy and I’m sure it’ll keep entertaining him for many years to come, as well as helping him learn his colours too.
So, is Will a Wicked Uncle?
I’d say the gift buying experiment was definitely a success! Happy Pickle, happy Mommy and by the sounds of it, happy Uncle Will too. Here are some of his summarising thoughts about the ordering process:
Things he liked:
- Simple to use
- You can send a free message (we’re not a family of card givers in general, much preferring to buy a chocolate bar for each other instead!)
- Clear delivery times and pricing
- Impressed by Wicked Uncle using Pickle’s name for both products at checked and prepopulating the message with his name – it just saves a little bit of time and shows they’ve spent the time to streamline the process
Improvements he’d like to see:
- It would be good to include some information on their blog that talks about the developmental attributes of each toy, or even better if they could make it interactive so each toy could show which skills it helps to develop
Overall, Wicked Uncle is a really nice website and if I’m still living overseas for his next birthday I’d likely use them again.
Well, Uncle Will – I think you’ve done an amazing job at picking these special gifts for Pickle! We love them. And we love you. And we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll get to see you soon, and look forward to hearing all about your Australian adventures.
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Wicked Uncle, who gave us a voucher to spend with them in order to produce this review. All content, ideas and opinions are my own, except when quoting my brother.