The Perfect Toy: How Far Would You Go For That Special Present From Santa?

30/03/2011 10:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

Presents, the perfect toy, ChristmasEver since July my child has been asking for Bullseye from Toy Story, and ever since then I've told her to wait and see what Santa brings.

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that her perfect toy was the very toy everybody else wanted too.

Bullseye was sold out across the UK and only exorbitantly priced mark-ups by fiendishly smart people were available.

Without him, my child's faith in Santa would have been crushed. I had no choice, I had to find him, the alternative was too horrible to consider. I couldn't be the one to tell her that Santa had forgotten her this year, especially when it was my fault in the first place.

It took me five days, 10 phone calls, and two long drives before I finally gave in and spent a fortune to get him for Christmas. And, because we were going away, I spent even more to get him couriered to friends in the country we were visiting.

Once the dust had settled I realised that I'd been completely sucked into the Christmas commercialism that I detested.

The irony is that I have always thought that parents who spent hours hunting down specific presents for their kids were completely mad. I was convinced that this would never happen to me, that I would rather get my child something else than pay ridiculously marked up prices for one specific toy.

But now that it's my turn, with my child dancing about the room singing, "Santa's getting me Bullseye for Christmas", I can understand exactly why parents go as far as they do to make their children's dreams come true.

A few years ago when the Power Rangers were all the rage, Susan was one of the parents caught in the Christmas chaos. "I can remember calling the store every day to find out if their stock had arrived," she says. "One day they said, come quickly the stock is in but it's flying off the shelves. I raced down to the shop and actually ran inside. The place was chaos, people were pushing and shouting and arguing over the last few boxes. As I grabbed hold of one of the toys, another woman punched me, snatched the toy from my hands, and shoved me to the ground."

She went home without a Power Ranger and in tears.

Martha, mum of three girls, agrees: "I spent hours and hours hunting down presents last Christmas. My three girls all wanted Go Go Hamsters and they were almost impossible to find. I remember standing outside one toy shop at 6am because I'd heard a rumour that they were getting stock. I wasn't the only parent with that idea and when the doors opened people ran into the store, shoving and hitting each other. When I saw another mum fall down in the crush, I stopped, turned around and went home. In that moment I realised that I had a choice. I could either join the mob or walk away and let it go."

Michelle, author of Clover Hill Book Reviews and mum of two boys, says: "I just realised that I've left our Christmas shopping far too late. Last week I went to three different local toy shops and none of them had stock of the gift my boys wanted. I've tried ASDA, Argos, Toys R Us and all to no avail. My last resort was to look on eBay and I'm appalled to say that the Christmas mentality has raised the price by almost triple the recommended retail price."

For Michelle there is no chance of her boys getting their present unless she can source it locally, and for the right price. "Christmas has become far too commercial. I look forward to spending precious time with my children and making lasting memories, not the toys that have barely been used when you look back."

Simone Castello, author of From Rat Race to Positive Parent, shares Michelle's views, "I think, as most parenting experts say, having a mum or dad's attention is worth more than any toy and I have done my best discourage pester power. If things change, I'm not going for the Schwarzenegger approach (in Jingle All the Way), and will try to find a different toy from another manufacturer and be sensible about it all."

But Angela, mum of two, says: "I have snatched presents from other people, queued outside stores at 5am on the day they've expected stock, and even bribed a store manager, all to make sure that my kids get the presents they want. I refuse to compromise on this because Christmas is their special day and I will do anything to make sure it stays that way."

Susan, in her search for the Power Ranger toys, recalls the parent frenzy: "I saw parents ripping open boxes that were being offloaded from trucks, that's how crazy things got. In my case we had a very lucky break. A new toy shop opened up down the road from my sister so she offered to collect one for me. She told me that as she walked in the door she could see parents openly crying because there, in front of them, were rows and rows of Power Ranger toys. They could finally give their children the presents they wanted."

I think that if I was faced with the choice between snatching a toy from another parent or disappointing my child, I would definitely choose the latter. This year I hunted down Bullseye because I'd had plenty of time to source him for her and had just left it too late. Next year I'm either going to plan ahead or let it go.

If you're screaming at other people, snatching toys from them, and behaving like a maniac then you're going against everything that Christmas is supposed to stand for. It's just not worth it. And I wouldn't want my child to have a toy that was gained through negativity.

Have you succumbed to toy insanity? Or are you super organised?

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