When we got four invitations within two days, I knew it was coming. I could feel its sticky icing-fingered clutches: birthday party season.
Parties are a great way to entertain — and wear out — your kids on the weekend, and sometimes there’s a handful of cheesies in it for the parents. But first there’s the business of buying a present for the birthday boy or girl … and it’s awful.
I used to enjoy shopping for a lot of kids’ birthday parties because we had an awesome, independent toy store just minutes from our house. We knew the owner and his staff, they carried high-quality toys, games and art supplies, and we happily dropped a lot of money there because it was locally owned.
After it closed, gift shopping for birthday parties became a chore. This past weekend, I put on my big-girl panties and admitted defeat: we had to go to the big-box store — and on a busy Saturday, no less.
Two children, two adults and four different birthday parties to shop for. It shouldn’t have taken us close to an hour, but that’s what happens when you have four people looking in four different toy aisles at all times.
It didn’t help that every single gift someone suggested was wrong, in one way or another.
“No way! That Lego set is $60 … Well, then ask for it for your birthday.”
“I can’t believe this costs $30. It looks like it’s from the Dollar Store.”
“How do you know she even likes that show?”
“No, two blind bags are not a present!” (“No, neither are Mash’ems!”)
“That toy is for babies, not big kids … No, they really don’t want a toddler toy. Trust me.”
“I know he likes Pokemon Go! Why can’t we find a #$%& Pokemon Go thing in this #$%& store?!” (That one was me.)
“No, I’m sure he’s far too young to have seen Star Wars, let alone want an action figure of whoever that is.”
“We’re not getting them a zombie toy! What if it scares them?!”
There were three main issues that kept preventing me from pulling the purchasing trigger: if a toy was the right price (not too cheap, not too expensive), if it was something we knew they liked or were interested in, and if it was a present their parents wouldn’t hate (a.k.a. not an annoying/offensive item or another piece of junk taking up space).
I just kept looking at everything and feeling discouraged. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve been shopping for — and attending — kids’ birthday parties for nearly seven years now, but I feel like everyone just has so much stuff. So many toys! So many games! So many books! It’s overwhelming …
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