Here’s another letter from James, who sent you that big long list yesterday.
When I pop into the homes here I see the children glued to the TV screens, watching all these adverts.
No wonder they think they ‘need’ all this stuff. How can a parent do Christmas shopping on a budget?
I wish toy advertising was banned till after nine o’clock at night! Advertisers don’t care about what your children really need. You asked about Christmas shopping on a budget. What I’d like to do is load up the sleigh with all the good old-fashioned toys that don’t cost the earth and that give children hours of healthy fun. You know the sort we used to take to the houses when their mums and dads were boys and girls: dolls, toy cars, dressing-up clothes, puppets, balls, wooden building blocks, construction sets.
It’s not that I’m against these modern gizmos but I wish parents would see the value of ‘open–ended toys’ that can be used a million and one ways. Remember all the wonderful games their mums and dads used to create – those toys really got their imaginations working. With a lot of these new-fangled toys, they look all glitter and glitz – but there’s not really much to hold their interest after the first hour or so.
The families used to have so much fun with the games like Scrabble and Monopoly. And the elves have been having great fun playing Boggle. I love jigsaws too. Did you see the Wasgij’s in the storeroom? I hope there’ll be one left over for me after Christmas. It’s a sort of backwards jigsaw where the picture isn’t on the box, you have to imagine it from the clues that are given.
Now that Mrs Claus and I have grown up children, rather than each family member giving a gift to everyone, we do a Kriskindle:
1. You agree on the approximate amount that’s to be spent on a gift.
2. Every family member writes their name on a piece of paper and writes at least three things they’d like, that is within that price range.
3. The pieces of paper are then folded and placed in a hat. Everyone chooses one piece of paper and is responsible for the present for that person.
4. Nobody tells anybody else whose name they’ve got, so it’s all a big surprise on Christmas Day. (If you draw your own name you put it back in the hat and take another).
Here’s a modern take on Kriskindle for ‘internet’ families and those who are far afield from each other.
1. Agree as a family on the budget amount per person. (If some family members are abroad, make sure everyone has the postal addresses needed).
2. Get someone outside your family to send each of you an email with one of your names and that’s who you will buy for.
3. Then you all send an email to everyone in the family with a few ideas of things that you’d really like, (or create online wishlists).
4. If some family members are abroad, that means building in enough time for posting.
5. Hopefully you can all join up online, if not in person, to enjoy the Kriskindle fun!
This Christmas I’d love to see families laughing, having fun and playing together. It doesn’t need to cost much to do that.
If you send me any other questions, I’ll reply tomorrow.
Here are my other letters:
Day 4 Christmas Surprises
Day 6 No Money This Christmas
Day 7 Christmas is for Giving
Day 9 When Grown Ups Fight
Day 10 An Attitude of Gratitude
Day 11 Can’t Forgive