Every year, Toys “R” Us publishes its “hot toy list,” dubbed the “only hot toy list that matters.”
“Introducing the Fabulous 15,” the toy store chain’s website blares, “this year’s sure-to-be, Wish List topping toys and games kids will be hoping for this holiday season!”
From there, readers find a list of 15 toys, full of bells, whistles and blinking lights. On the more affordable side, there’s a $35 activity walker for toddlers and a $30 mall-themed carrying case for Shopkins figures. At the other end of the spectrum is a NERF drone blaster, for $200, and a Power Wheels 12-volt Wild Thing that spins kids around for a cool $250.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. As kids leaf through circulars or wander the toy store aisles, their eyes get bigger and their holiday wish lists just get longer.
In the middle of it all, parents scramble to make sure those Christmas wishes come true. They rack up big credit card balances and plenty of anxiety -- only to watch their kids tear through the presents and tire of the new toys before Christmas vacation is even over.
In the end, Christmas turns into a time of overindulgence, instead of a focus on the joy of the season and a family’s own faith and traditions.
So, maybe, this year, it’s time to put down the circulars, leave the toy store aisles and slide those credit cards back in your wallets.
1. Too much is too much for kids: Studies show that kids, especially little ones, are overwhelmed by too many toys. In some cases, kids don’t know how to play because they have toys all around them. Simple play things like wooden blocks and everyday items like a cardboard box help boost imaginative play. Items like these really are all young children need to entertain themselves.
2. Experiences are better: More than anything else, your kids want quality time with you. Instead of splurging on the latest toy, make plans -- and follow through on them -- to take in your neighborhood’s colorful Christmas lights, enjoy a free community holiday concert or cuddle under the blankets with some hot chocolate for a family movie night featuring classic Christmas TV specials.
On Christmas morning, instead of wrapping up things, wrap up plans for experiences -- from a membership to a local museum to visits to the new playground that just opened or the big sledding hill nearby.
3. Debt is no fun: If you’re already working to pay off credit card bills or student loans, more debt, courtesy of high-priced holiday gifts, will just keep you from reaching your goals. Credit card debt can easily spiral out of control, especially if even the minimum payment is too much for your budget. And it can be difficult for stressed parents, worried about mounting debt, to be much fun during the holidays.
4. Your family traditions are worth celebrating: If you’re out looking for the final three items on your kids’ Christmas lists, it’s hard to make time -- or relax enough -- to enjoy your family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s Christmas Eve mass or the dozens of Christmas cookies you bake each year, these are the memories you and your kids will treasure years from now.
So, this year, don’t fall for the hype. Make time for those memory-making moments this holiday season. They matter.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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