Does anyone have this year’s “hottest” toy (according to whom, I’m not sure), the Zhu Zhu pet hamster? How far are you willing to go to get one, and how much would you pay for this $10 toy? Does anyone remember what last year’s hottest pet toy was? I don’t. Will it make or break my children’s Christmas if they don’t get at least one of the hot toys of the season?
The AP is reporting today (link here) that these robotic pets are fetching $40 or more at some auction sites from parents who are desperate to secure the latest and greatest toy in time Christmas. They look pretty cute, and if I had seen one in a store, I might have considered getting one for my children; the price is right, and the marketing has convinced me that this is THE toy they’re going to want, whether they know it or not.
However, if I don’t see it, then the world won’t end. I’m not going to fight you for it, nor am I willing to stand in line at 5 a.m. (or camp out overnight) on Black Friday for a hamster toy or any other toy for that matter. I’m willing to bet that supply will catch up with demand and these toys will be for sale again before they’re forgotten in favor of next year’s hot toy.
Am I missing something? I know I’ve missed some great deals today and probably a lot of fun looking for the perfect presents with a group of people united (or competing?) for a common cause: shopping. I read the newspaper ads and even thought, “what if”?
But then common sense, the need for sleep, and the lack of a sitter to watch my children took over my brain. There seems to be plenty of “stuff” to go around for kids and grownups, too, and I don’t think it’s all going to be gone today. They’ll have a much better Christmas if I get more sleep and forego stress over the hunt for the Zhu Zhu hamster.
But I’d love to hear your thoughts about the appeal of Black Friday shopping as well as the demand to give the latest and greatest toys to our children for Christmas instead of the almost-latest and greatest toys, pretty good toys, or (GASP) what kids would consider the lowest category of gift-giving, Things They Need.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
My mom, “Gwennie,” comes into town about twice a year from Connecticut. While here, she usually packs in a few trips to the local country western outfitters, a visit to a BBQ joint and, of course, enjoys some Mexican food.
For putting up with the craziness her trips usually entail, I’m entitled to some gift … usually of the purse variety, and of a brand I wouldn’t be able to afford for myself.
So there I am last week, searching for my perfect new bag. Alas, I find it but the store is down to two.
Can they hold it for me? Of course – but only until the end of the day … a full week before my mom’s arrival.
Can she charge it over the phone? Of course! So my mom ensures I have my dream bag and charges it over the phone for me. Here’s how that went …
Saleslady: “Ma’am, would you like us to send the bag home with your daughter or would you like it held in customer service until your arrival?”
Me: Super excited to take home my bag.
My mom: “Leave it customer service. She can wait.”
Me (to the saleslady): “Is she serious?”
Saleslady (to my mom): “Ma,am, are you serious?”
My mom: “Yes. I’m absolutely serious. Please box it up and we’ll pick it up Friday.”
After the disbelieving salesgirl shared this with her fellow salesgirls and they all expressed their sympathy for me, I called my mom back and asked “how could you??”
The explanation is this:
My mom wanted us to go pick it up together. She knew how much I wanted it and she wanted to be there to see my excitement to pick it up. She didn’t want it to be “old hat” by the time she arrived a week later. Part of the fun in getting for me was seeing my reaction to having it in my possession.
Three years ago, I wouldn’ t have had an ounce of understanding about this, and thought it was just plain cruel. But being a mom, one of the greatest joys I have is seeing my boy happy. I treasure those moments – the ones of utter surprise, of excitement, of bliss. And I probably will still treasure them when he’s my age. I guess some things never change.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
So Christmas has come and gone. Santa has probably brought your kids a toy (or ten) and now you wonder what you can do with all those toys your kids don’t play with anymore or have outgrown. I look at all my son’s baby toys and wonder what I can possibly do with them, as I am quickly running out of room.
I took some suggestions from friends and family and here are a few:
1. Keep them. If you plan on having more kids, you’ll be one step ahead and not have to buy all those toys all over again.
2. Give them to friends. Especially expecting or new parents. It will help cut down the costs for them and you’ll surely win friend points.
3. Consign them. There is a big consignment sale twice a year in Oklahoma City and Norman. It’s the Just Between Friends sale and they take tons of toys, clothing, strollers, you name it. They pay the consignor 65% of the sale. Not bad if you have a ton of stuff and would like to make a little back to put toward future toy and clothing purchases. Go to their Website to sign up or get more information. In Oklahoma City, go to http://okc.jbfsale.com. The sale will be at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In Norman, go to http://norman.jbfsale.com. The sales will be at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Registration begins in January and the sales are set for March.
4. Goodwill. 84 percent of the revenue brought into the Goodwill stores goes to their employment and training opportunities, which helps people find good jobs. Go to www.goodwill.org or your closest Goodwill store for more information on how to donate.
5. Infant Crisis Services. This local nonprofit helps the youngest of children. If you have baby toys that are gently used, they will gladly take them to give to families in need. You can donate new or good used clothing (preemie to size 6) and shoes, and new or good used toys, among many other items. Call 528-3663 or go to www.infantcrisis.org for more information.
These are just a few suggestions. There are probably many more charities or organizations that can take your children’s used clothes or toys. It’s one way you can keep giving, even after the holiday season is over.
If you have any other suggestions you’d like readers to know about, leave your comments here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share them.
According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, injuries kill more children each year than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined. Children age 4 and younger account for nearly half of toy-related injuries and almost 90 percent of deaths. In Oklahoma, about 130 children through age 15 die each year from unintentional injuries. For every fatality, approximately 45 children require hospitalization and 1,300 require emergency treatment.
These are numbers that aren’t to be taken lightly. The health department offers these tips when purchasing a toy to keep those numbers as low as possible:
1. Always consider the child’s age and maturity level. Purchase a toy suited to the ability, skill and interest level of the child.
2. Toys intended for children older than age 3 should never be given to infants or toddlers. They may have small parts that pose a choking hazard. Children younger than 3 should not be given toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches. Cords longer than this can get wrapped around a child’s neck.
3. Children younger than age 8 shouldn’t be given toys with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity (not including batteries).
4. Older children should be taught to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
5. Look for well-constructed toys. Check the toys periodically for broken parts that should be repaired or thrown away.
6. Consider the weight, size of the toy.
7. Make sure toys do not contain toxic paint or lead.
8. Costumes or pajamas should be labeled “flame retardant/flame resistant.”
9. If you give a child a bike, roller blades, skateboard or scooter, don’t forget to include safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards as part of the gift.
If you started holiday shopping early, you can also check toys to be sure they haven’t been recalled since your purchase. Go to www.cpsc.gov to be sure they aren’t on the list. And if you have children of your own, I highly suggest signing up for the website’s email announcements. As soon as a toy or other children’s item (such as clothes, cribs, etc.) is recalled, they let you know via email, complete with pictures of the items, where they were sold and when, and what to do with the recalled item.
Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time, especially for the little ones. Let’s all be extra diligent in keeping it safe for them. If you have any other good safety tips, comment here or email me at email@example.com.