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Santa still will come, but he won’t bring as much

Submitted by on Monday, 20 October 2008 4 Comments

Funny how finances increasingly are forcing me to be the kind of parent I’d planned on being.

I never intended to fall into a fast-food habit — that’s Dad’s job. Yet, there I was, driving through McDonald’s every Friday. Do it often enough and kids start thinking they’re entitled.

I never wanted to make holidays gimme-fests. Yet, when the Ghost of Christmas Past visits, he brings photos of tons of barely touched junk.

And looking back at last year’s images, I see only three toys the guys still play with regularly: Little Guy’s Thomas set, Big Guy’s pirate ship and their joint chalk board-Dry Erase easel.

I’m about to become a statistic again.

Toymakers nationwide are bracing for a tough holiday season, and I’m going to do my part to make it happen.

I actually started last year, cutting back spending in most areas but the guys. The prime-rib dinner became a hors devours buffet. Presents became hand-crafted instead of store-bought — and I’m not a very good crafter, so it took some imagination. We created cards and gift tags on the computer, making a dent in a stock of stickers bought a decade ago.

Looks like those moves could be trendy this year. Particularly as major toy manufacturers such as Mattel and Hasbro continue to raise prices.

Both blame recent increases in part on increased product testing, which cracks me up. They screw up, sell our children millions of poisonous products and then ask us to pay more so they can keep profits up now that they’re forced to do what they should have been doing all along. Damn government overregulation.

The kicker: Neither company is hurting. Mattel’s profits actually increased last quarter, The Associated Press reports. Hasbro’s fell, but the company still made $132 million. Of course, I realize in a shareholder-driven more, more, more culture, both results are considered failures.

Leaders at both companies already are smartly downplaying holiday expectations, telling AP they expect stronger sales in the under $20 category.

Contrarian that I am, I’m going the opposite way. I’d rather buy one $40 item that will hold the guys’ interest until at least Valentine’s Day than two $20 items they’ll abandon by New Year’s Eve.

And I’ll round it out with crafts, cookies and gazing at the tree.

Because those are the things they remember from last year anyway. And those are the things that, in the grand scheme of things, are more important than filling the house with crap.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Genevieve said:

    Well there going to be very disappointed with me this year. I’ve already bought the big present — tix to a concert for my oldest and us. My youngest will get a few toys – but it’ll most likely be one bigger thing and some clothes/socks etc for his stocking.

  • debra said:

    I still can get away with clothes, too.

    Big Guy was delighted last night when I presented, with great ceremony, a new pair of Batman pajamas. He didn’t catch on that he got them because he’s outgrown all his PJs. He just got egcited over Batman.

  • Julie said:

    You’ve been given an award! Check it out!http://www.coolmomguide.com/award/

  • debra said:

    Aw, thanks, Julie! I’ll have to ask the guys whether I deserve an award from CoolMom, and at best I’m going to get a split decision.

    But I appreciate it, and I’ll get going on my post. Problem is, my answers are going to sound a lot like yours. Dang. I hate it when I have to think before I’ve finished my first pot of coffee.