Friday, November 21, 2008

Will It Be Merry?

Yesterday I got out of class early, so I had about an hour to kill before I met up with my friend Ken for lunch at Noodle House (aka Noodles & Company, one of my fave places ever!)

I decided to go to Target instead of going to the library to work on projects (I am SO responsible!) and of course, it lead me through the baby section and the toy section to kind of browse for what I plan to buy for the holiday season's Toy and Baby Supply Drive.

I was astounded at the price of things. I know all you parents out there are like "Ya? No surprises here!" I wanted to buy pacifiers, but even the cheapest ones were at least $3-4. I was hoping to buy a couple packs, and I felt so discouraged. Okay, onto baby formula, even Target Brand formula was at least $11! Though I was discouraged that I, as a college student would not be able to afford the big donation I was hoping to make (I was invisioning like, BAGS full of stuff to donate) I wondered how anyone can afford to be parents? But I traveled on.

I get to the toy section, which happened to be next to the seasonal stuff, and I heard that Charlie Brown Christmas song playing. I actually got choked up you guys! Seeing the prices of toys, and hearing the music, I was walking up and down the toy aisles, almost in tears thinking that Christmas wouldn't be coming for a child this year because their parents couldn't afford it. I was trying to find the best value for my dollar, a toy that would spark creativity or really get the child engaged (so NO BRATZ dolls!) but also be a "hot item."

I found the My Little Ponies, which I have NO clue if they're still a wanted toy? I mean, they brought them back so I'm hoping girls like them? Well, the price of MLP's went up this year by a dollar. Not only that, but the toys no longer offer any accessories. Any 80's kid will tell you, you HAD to have a brush for your Pony's mane. If not, there had to be some little plastic tiara or something to make up for it!

I went up and down the aisles but couldn't find anything within my budget, and began to realize that there will be many parents facing this same dilemna, but they are expected to come up with the gifts. My contribution though, is optional.

It was astounding that many of the toys that were cheap, were only part of a playset. To complete the playset, you would at least spend $50. These toy companies really know how to market to children, and also know how to tap in to their parent's wallets. By selling "sets" that "need" more pieces to be complete, a child of course, will want more.

So my question to you, is what are great toys that are a good value, but also are good for the child's developing brain and creativity? I know I wasn't emotionally scarred, infact, I loved my Barbies, but if I can get something that will make a child think and grow, I would be a happy camper.

So what are the hot toys this season, any tips on how to get them cheap? Thanks guys, can you please spread the word to your friends or anyone who has kids so I get more input?

Would crayons and markers be a dissapointment for kid? I used to LOVE to get watercolors, oil pastels, anything...but I was an artsy kid. I didn't have a computer growing I worry that something like this the new generation will not appreciate?

And now, for some cute toys!

As you can see, I definetly have a "girl toy" bias. >>sigh<< oh well! It's just so cute!


*Just Jen* said...

I think Wal-mart has some good deals. And K-mart always has a toy sale. But I think the best idea is to go to Ross/Marshalls/TJ Maxx type stores. They have clothes, pacifiers and toys, and they are all really inexpensive. Just reading your blog made me sad for families that can't afford Christmas or Hanukkah for their kids. That's why it's up to people like you and me to make it happen!

Kassie said...

I think the thing to remember is that any child that would benefit from your donation would be happy to get ANYTHING. You aren't talking about teenagers who are being pressured to have and be the best. You're talking about babies and toddlers who don't know any better and would be THRILLED with a knew blanket or a box of crayons and some paper. Last year, I wrapped gifts for the elderly- they wanted stuff like disposable cameras and nose hair trimmers. It's not about the size or value of the gift. For people who don't have the means to get that something extra for their baby, it's all about feeling loved.

I recommended getting solid pastel fleece and making some baby blankets. If you know someone with a surger (Mrs. Pitts?), you can surge the outsides and if you know someone with an embroidery machine, you could put a little duck or car or something on the corner of each of them.

Just a thought! Good luck!

Kassie said...

Surely by "knew" I meant "new". I hate spelling errors.

Whitney said...

Ummm, as far as a good toy that would help a child's development, anything that will let them "express" themselves is good, i.e. crayons, paints, coloring books. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes it's those simple things that will inspire a child to do something greater. I know Joann's has a lot of stuff on sale now, at least there was a lot on sale when I was there last weekend. Maybe you can find a cool crafting kit for whatever age group you're looking for? Or, as has been mentioned, try Walmart too. They always have reasonable prices...

Andy, Beth and Jennah, too! said...

LOL... yeah... I know... that's why I am so grateful for Grandmas and Grandpas... Between diapers & clothes... moms and dads are broke as a joke!... seriously... anything is good. Crayons, paper... LOVE IT! Toys that cost more don't get loved more... Jennah would much rather play with a ball from the $1 bucket at Target rather than the huge ride on toy that Grandma bought her for over $40. Go figure. Go to the DollarTree! For some ages it's "quantity" not "quality"... we went with that motto one year for the niece and nephew ... sure enough, they counted all the gifts (ages 4 & 3).