We know it’s all too easy to fall into buying badly made, overpriced, dangerously cheap and often plastic crap for children at Christmas. Deep breaths everyone...children do not need a mountain of presents to enjoy Christmas. We know Christmas is expensive, we know buying for lots of little ones presents challenges to the mind as well as the wallet and that sometimes in our haste to tick people off our list we make questionable choices. BuyMeOnce is here to be your festive elves and give you some tips on how to buy Christmas gifts for kids without breaking your wallet, your soul or the planet.
Thanks to their tendency to be wonderfully direct and sometimes painfully honest, us gift givers are left in no doubt when something is not well received. That does not mean that demands for faddish items or whatever the latest craze might be should be met. The reality is that these obsessions are often fleeting, shallow and lacking in real long term gratification for the little people in our lives.
‘Within three months, 41 per cent of the toys children receive will be broken. Most will go to the tip.’ - The Independent
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin shares an anecdote of a little boy who had a favourite toy car. He got so much joy from this one, precious toy; it was special to him and he loved playing with it. One day a family member brought over a huge box of cars for him to play with. His reaction is fascinating; instead of delighting in his new-found multi car ownership, he became despondent and anxious as he struggled to fit them into his life – they weren’t special to him and he couldn’t love them all. He was overwhelmed.
At BuyMeOnce we are certainly no gang of grinches, but we do truly believe that gifting joy does not lie at the bottom of a mountain of meaningless presents purchased just for the sake of it. Finding something special and meaningful that shows you understand and have thought about the person you’re gifting is the ultimate key.
The time vs cost conundrum – it’s all very well to say buying thoughtfully is better, but how on earth is this manageable when life is so extraordinarily busy? Essentially, to achieve budget Christmas shopping success a decision needs to made upfront; either settle for shoddy items from questionable brands, or accept that you will need to dedicate some real time to hunting and gathering. This is by no means the easy option, but it’s totally worth it. Worth it for the smugness of not blowing a budget with panic buying, and worth it because the little ones in your life will love you for it.
Our 7 Top Tips:
Enough of the theory, let’s get down to shiny, Christmassy brass tacks.
- Make a list and agree a budget for each child. Don’t berate yourself if you don’t rigorously stick to it – use it as a guide to keep track
- Do your research ahead of time – find out what books they’re into, music – try to avoid fleeting fads, instead consider their characters and the things they truly love
- Consider the gift of time – a great gift does not have to be a physical object – hanging out together is so valuable and meaningful long-term. Consider taking them ice skating, to see some music or a show. Often if you book in advance, great deals can be found
- Get crafty and use Pinterest for inspiration – use that knowledge of what you know they love and either make them something or get together all the bits you need to create something together like a costume featuring a character from their favourite book or film
- Don’t forget to peruse Charity shops - it’s worth making the journey to an affluent part of town where the offering of quality, barely used items is often staggering...plus the money from your purchases will be going to a worthy cause which is a great added benefit
- eBay is a great resource for quality items on a budget….clearly they will often (though not always) be second hand
- Nearly new and vintage sales – a little bit of internet research will soon tell you what your local options are. These are a great resource for finding more interesting, even eccentric items for the more discerning older kids on your list
Finally, remember the little boy and his toy car – chances are that kids will be getting so many presents from all sides of the extended family and friends. They do not need a mountain of stuff to be happy. Jump off the treadmill of volume buying for kids and do things a little differently this year.