It’s almost the crazy consumer holiday season. Are you ready?
Most kids (including mine) are making wish lists and parents are checking them and their wallets twice. Stores are sending out colorful catalogs and newspaper ads to show you what you need to buy. Shop til you drop has replaced family and religion as the focus of Christmas in America today. Sure, you may go to midnight candlelight service Christmas eve, but you really just can’t wait until the presents in the morning. You prepare, scheme, wrap, hide for days, weeks or even months to get the prefect gifts.
If your family has kids, those gifts will probably be some sort of toys. So what’s the best toys? Are they the latest greatest the toy companies say kids want? Do they have to be battery operated or connected to a video screen? Do they have to cost a fortune? Do they even have to be new?
NO! Most definitely not. Sure the kids will be very happy and play with them, but after the newness wears off these will likely be found in the back of the closet or broken.
Many of the popular toys this year are pretty expensive. Rather than trying to buy expensive toys for everyone, consider buying several smaller, inexpensive toys to each child then one large expensive toy for them to all share. Or try games the family can play together.
What about their motives for wanting them? Is it because their friends have them? Is it because their friends don’t have them and they want to be the first? Peer pressure and envy are huge parts of kids decisions. I’m not saying don’t give them some things they want, just be careful about why they want them and that they will be played with longer than the first week. To give a child every toy they want, is to cater to their greed and selfishness. They don’t learn modesty or the joy of giving that way.
Try to get toys that foster creativity that can be used in more than one way like dolls (even for boys), blocks of all kinds, art and craft supplies, and of course stuffed, plastic, or wooden animals. Cars, trains, vehicles of all sorts keep kids busy for hours. Sports equipment such as balls, jump ropes, bikes, and other outdoor toys encourage creativity and active play. Card and board games make good gifts as long as you are comfortable with the number of little pieces that are destined to be strewn all over. Also, they should be consistent with the interests and age of the kids.
Toys don’t have to be new. My kids actually enjoyed used toys from their friends garage sale left overs better because they new they were once loved by other kids. Thrift shops are a great place for used toys, especially stuffed animals. Used toys should be clean and in good condition. No one wants a broken toy.
Another thing, NEVER allow a toy whose purpose is violence. This includes but is not limited to video games, GI Joe and other action figures, toy guns including squirt and bubble guns, swords, rocket launchers. These toys only show that you approve violence and encourage it. Toys imitate life and vice versa. There are plenty of toys available that aren’t violent which kids enjoy. Boys won’t be wimps just because they aren’t allowed to play violence.
We do not allow our kids to have toy guns or play guns with sticks or other toys. This includes playing army, cops/robbers, etc. Guns are tools and dangerous, deadly weapons. Under no circumstance should guns (real or pretend) be allowed to be used as toys. If friends want to come over and play, we make sure they understand our rule. I also kindly request when they play at other kids’ homes that they not be allowed to play guns. Other parents have always been understanding in honoring this request. Its also a great way to witness to them Christian non-violence and non-resistance.
Yes, it is possible for kids to have too many toys. Kids with too many toys often want even more toys just to have something different. They are more likely to mistreat and break toys because they take them for granted. A few, well made toys are often better than many toys.
Anabaptists.org has a good article about toys and play. I’ve linked to it before, but feel it is important to remember and keep in mind while shopping for toys this holiday season.
Stores open at the unheard of early 4 or 5AM Friday to try to lure shoppers in on the busiest shopping day of the year. As for me, I’ve never seen the need to get up that early just to spend money. We don’t need anything that badly. I’m taking Friday off not to shop, but to relax with my family. Then I’ll get the My Little Pony, doll house, and ski poles later during the week when stores aren’t crazy busy.
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