Rules of shopping

With Christmas fast approaching the great commercial juggernaut is on the move ready to part you from your money. There was a sign at the front of our local Walmart last Friday that read, "4 Saturdays left until Christmas." Many of you will have to venture out into the sea of materialism to hunt for toys for the wee ones in your lives. For those of you who don't have any at home I've devised a list of rules to help keep you on the good side of the parents of the wee ones. The list is entitled, How to buy toys for other people's kids so that they won't end up hating you and wanting to throw you and the toys out of the nearest highrise window.

1. Don't buy any electronic noise making toys that don't have volume control.
2. Don't buy any electronic noise making toys that don't have an on-off switch.
3. Don't buy any electronic noise making toys that need those tiny batteries that are only sold in that store on the other side of town that's always out of stock.
4. If you really like your friends, don't buy any electronic noise making toys at all.
5. Check the age appropriateness of the toy. Don't buy something that says "ages 3 to 5" for a 2 year old. They won't know what to do with it.
6. Make sure that what you're buying is sturdy. If the toy doesn't fall apart when you beat up on it in the store it might survive the kid.
7. Make sure there are no little bits that will come off easily (see 6).
8. Make sure what you're buying is not a choking hazard. If the toys or any of their parts can fit through a paper towel tube it can fit into a child's throat and get stuck.
9. Avoid toys with lots of parts and little bits, this way you avoid the choking hazard issue and the annoyed parent looking for all of the pieces (and finding them in the most inconvenient of ways) issue.
10. If it can't be thrown into the washing machine (or dishwasher or microwave oven) put it back on the shelf.
11. Bigger is not better.
12. Less is more.
13. Don't waste money on a name brand something that will either be broken or forgotten quickly. Just give mom and dad cash for the college fund instead.
14. Remember that others will be buying toys for the kids. You aren't responsible for getting them everything.
15. Just because you think it is the most adorable thing in the world and every kid MUST have one doesn't mean that mom and dad feel the same way. Put it back.
16. It's okay to make siblings share their toys. It builds character.
17. "They will feel left out/unloved if they don't have lots and lots of toys," is not a legitimate excuse for you to go on a shopping spree. Most people aren't trying to raise little Dudley Dursleys any way.
18. No means no. If you ask mom and dad if they want a certain thing for their kids and they say no thanks, please believe them. Why bother asking otherwise?
19. "'Disposeable' type toys..... like art supplies that can be used up" are very good.
20. "Kids over ten really just appreciate mall certificates the best. Then they will have a real reason to drag us to the mall and let them choose their own possessions."
21. "Books...are always a good gift."
22. Remember that the wee ones might visit your house and bring their toys with them. Don't choose anything that you wouldn't want to put up with for several hours on end.

These rules may need to be adjusted a bit for older children. Let me know if you think of any others.


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