Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Tips for Holiday Shopping for Kids #HotHolidayToys

I'll never forget the moment I got my favourite Christmas gift ever - it was a (big!) Barbie van, and my whole family conspired to make sure it was a Christmas morning surprise. It was the only thing I really wanted that Christmas and there was no way Mom would disappoint me. But that didn't stop the gang from playing a little trick on me.

Even wrapped, a Barbie van would be pretty darn obvious - a giant, lumpy package that surely wouldn't fit under the Christmas tree. So, they kept the van hidden in another room. I confess I was a bit worried as presents were unwrapped and my Barbie van was nowhere in sight!

When they finally brought it into the room, I was beyond excited. I played with that thing for hours and hours (and years and years!). In fact, my mom held onto it, and it's sitting in my own basement now (a little worse for wear).

The love of all things Barbie carries on today. When my daughter was born, my mom started a tradition of giving her each year's Holiday Barbie for Christmas. Her first Holiday Barbie was the 2004 version with the lovely green velvet dress. This year, Mattel's 25th Anniversary Holiday Barbie wears a beautiful silvery dress with wintry accents to celebrate Holiday Barbie's silver anniversary.

Like many moms, I can't help but be intimidated by the endless to-do list that naturally arises each Christmas. But I'll never forget how meaningful those Christmas mornings were to me as a child. I want to create the same kinds of memories for my kids. In order to save my sanity when managing the old to-do list, I have developed the following strategies for shopping for kids' gifts.

My Tips for Holiday Shopping for Toys

Shop early - like now!

Avoid behaving like Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in Jingle All The Way. When kids really want a gift, you know they expect that Santa won't disappoint. Last year I had quite a bit of trouble finding one of my daughter's requested toys when I left it until the last minute. I eventually got lucky when a salesperson offered me one that was hidden behind the customer service counter.  Don't be the parent who finds out that this season's hot toys are sold out

Create a master list - and carry it with you

Whether you keep it on your phone, on your iPad or on a piece of paper, create a thorough gift list outlining names, desired gifts, prices and store or website locations. Whether you will be online shopping or heading to the mall, do some research on a site that organizes toys by age groups. Look for a wish list option like the one on Mattel's hot holiday toys websiteMake sure your list is with you at all times in case you happen to be out and about and have a few spare moments on your hands.

Stick to a budget

Did you notice I said to put the price of each item on your master list? Don't be tempted to buy all kinds of extras that aren't on your list. Starting the new year with a giant credit card bill just ain't pretty.

Nourish yourself

Tuck some granola bars and other healthy snacks into your purse for when the shopping urge hits. Nobody likes to shop with a growling tummy! Bring a bottle of water wherever you go too. I always notice I'm thirsty the moment I get in the car.

Wear comfy shoes

Sore feet and a busy mall go together about as well as rain drops and flat-ironed hair. This is one case where I advise against putting fashion first.

Wrap a few gifts right away

Wrapping all your gifts on Christmas Eve is not fun! Trust me, I have done it - at midnight! Wrap them as you buy them and either hide them away or display them (if you trust the kids not to rip the corners off the packages).

What are your holiday shopping tips?

Disclosure: I am part of the Mattel Holiday Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


  1. Great tips! Totally agree about trying to make it special. I still have memories of when I wanted Gerbils so badly (Ewwww gross to think about now)! My Dad did the same thing, said he forgot his slippers and I went to get them for him and there was the cage with a bow on it with my gerbils...itchy and scratchy!


    1. Thanks Pia. I am guessing there are no gerbils in your house now? ;)
      My son wants a lizard but I really think our dog would eat it. Plus, I have a policy of only having pets that actually WANT to live with humans. ;)

  2. Some great tips! and love the tradition your mother started. We don't celebrate Christmas but I like to participate with friends when I can. But the same tips would apply for our big holiday celebration. Thing is... I like to shop through out the year. I keep in mind what people tell me so I can get them something useful... we have a re-gifters in the family!

    1. That's smart to keep an eye out for gifts the whole year. Less stress that way. :)

  3. Great tips! I always make up a spreadsheet of sorts that has all my gift ideas and then I keep track of what I have gotten, what I have left and how much I have spend! Great way to keep me (somewhat) on track with my shopping!

    1. A spreadsheet! You have me beat. ;) Seriously, that's a great idea!

  4. Each year Barbie gets more stunning! I remember receiving my Barbie house when I was a little girl. Oh how I loved Barbie! Sad to say my DD7 doesn't love Barbie as much.

    Great tips, sticking to a budget is always hard. We never use plastic. That makes it easier :)

    1. So true! The dresses are incredible! I played with my Barbies for a long time. I think kids are more sophisticated now and they move to "grown-up" toys sooner. :)

      No plastic is a great policy!

  5. I just bought some wrapping paper today and want to get started. Holiday Barbie is gorgeous this year - I need to get one for my little girl.

    1. I need to take my own advice and get some more wrapping done! ;)

  6. My holiday shopping tip is to go at off-hours, as the malls will be less crowded then. You can get so much more done without the crowds.


    1. That's a great point. I love it when the stores are crowd-free. :)


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