I’ve recently been given the opportunity to get a closer look at the world of kids toys and shopping for children’s holiday gifts. One thing that I can not stop thinking about is the how long the toys will last, considering the ever-changing attention span and their ever-evolving interests or phases.
Prime example, two weeks prior to Thanksgiving was the first time my Niece was coming to sleep at our house, because my Mother was so excited, we decided to throw a little party for her to introduce her to the neighborhood. People brought some gifts, and I gave her a Minnie Mouse, which at the time she never let out of her site. Then Thanksgiving came and she was coming back for another weekend, and this time we decided to get her a little Princess castle/tent thing so that she could sleep in it. Minnie was now out of the picture, never even taken out of the overnight bag. Instead my Niece spent every minute running back and forth from the castle, pretending to be a princess, having me join her, etc. Two weeks later, another few days at Grandma’s - Minnie didn’t even make it into the car! and while the castle was still at my house, my Niece had lost complete interest in that, as well.
This leads me to the actual shopping experience. My Mother and I spent hours, walking around Toys R Us, trying to decide what would be fun to get for the real holiday gifts. Aisles and aisles of plastic, stuffed animals, crayons, markers, puzzles, baby dolls, any thing that can spark a world of imagination in the mind of a 3-year-old.
There has to be a better solution for the two second time-span of these toys. What are we supposed to do with the castle now? Just throw it away? We spent the gas to get to the store, the money to buy the thing, the paper to wrap it up nice, and the pieces and parts I’m sure are not recyclable. Maybe instead of toy-buying-stores, there should just be toy-renting-stores, so these items can be brought back once the child has entered into a new phase. Or maybe an alternative where one Mother, whose child is now tired of coloring, can trade with the Mother whose child just realized how exciting coloring is. Or maybe we should just re-evaluate the value of the things we consider to be gifts - is a lifeless, plastic doll whose eyes never close really the only way a little girl will learn Mother-role-playing skills? Of course this is an excellent opportunity to teach the child about donating to other kids in need, but is this what they need? What happens when THEY no longer use them?
Then we get to the packaging of the items. While many companies have gone to immense strides to make sure their packaging is as efficient as possible, many still missed the boat. One thing that should be taken into account is the way the consumer will be able to wrap the item when it is to be given as a gift. Aesthetics are a big thing when wrapping a gift and an octagonal box with a big open gap at one end is just asking for a disaster and too many attempts at wrapping, aka waste of paper with the attempts. Then the gift is opened and the successful paper is put right into the trash.
I could go on and on, but I am sure I am not the only one who has experienced these situations. What are everyone else’s thoughts?