Shopping for the Kid in You

Tuesday 27th October, 2020

With the strain COVID is placing on retailers and shippers, some stores are considering unleashing their holiday decorations before Christmas. Anything to drum up business and raise shoppers' moods, because we're more gullible than we think. Few of us are immune to retailer's many ploys to create artificial moods, myself included. I purchased my first pumpkin spice coffee last week because it came in an enticing orange container.

So will you be ready when the tinsel and lights go up? There are rumors it will happen before Halloween.

There won't be a Black Friday rush either. Those nightmare-fuelling videos of shoppers moving like a river down aisles, playing tug-of-war with TVs, threatening one another with screw drivers all in the name of 50% deals. So maybe COVID has given us something to be thankful for.

With all that said, and all the other uncertainty that looms, it's about time to prep your holiday shopping. Start your online wish list now.

Where To Start Your List: At the Beginning

But it's only October, and you don't know where to start your wish list. It's early, I know. And it's very possible COVID's already awakened you to the things you need. Being stuck at home has a way of making you notice the little voids in your life. Whether small like a new coffee maker, or large like your first project car, many of us have already spent time (and money) on quarantine gifts. So what more do you want?

Well, at the onset of this fun social experiment in loneliness, I was tasked with cleaning out my childhood cubby-hole. A dusty, musty, old-book-smelling mouse-hovel in the recess of my parents' attic.

For over a decade its been the storage unit for all of my and my siblings' childhood toys. Legos, RC cars, puzzles, action figures, and other citizens of the Island of Misfit Toys. Cobwebs blanketed them. I could write my name in the dust.

But once the dust was scrubbed off, and all of the plastic goods were laid out in the open, I found renewed fascination with each item. Each one a talisman of my childhood, filling me with nostalgia. I don't know if it was simply this, or the initial boredom of quarantine, but soon I had all of those toys set up like they were a decade ago. The RC car's servos whirred as I raced it around the house. I sifted through Legos for hours, not building, but simply recalling all the things I did construct, like a mountain made of cardboard boxes with Lego cars racing down over jumps. 

I felt young again. Like college, graduation, and an unpredictable job market were not waiting for me.

Maybe this is the best place to start this year's Christmas list. Whether curating a list for yourself or someone else, capturing childhood nostalgia is a great starting point for a holiday season that will be marred by isolation and anxiety.

Like a comforting pint of ice cream, a nostalgic gift will satisfy with an explosion of endorphins. Think back to what brought you joy: dolls, model trains, craft kits, etc. You might even start by asking your parents to re-gift things they find stowed away in the dusty corners of your childhood home. Add "favorite stuffed animal" to your wish list!

Your Childhood, Updated

Unfortunately, not every element of your toy box will still be available. Dedicated shoppers may scour Ebay for a mint condition memory, but most will find their childhood has become a paragraph in a history book. 

A few toys from the '90s and '00s still available: Tamagotchi, Polly Pocket, Furby, Pogs, Moon Shoes, Crossfire, Bop It, BeyBlades, HotWheels, Nerf blasters, American Girl Dolls. That's to just name a few. Chances are, you remember all the commercials, but owned only one or two of those items. Well, now you're an adult with your own wallet, so why not add them to your wish list and finally own them?

Of course, many items are no more, or completely evolved. Legos, for instance, are still the same combination of connectible blocks, but character and sets like Jack Stone, Rock Raiders, astronauts, and old generation Star Wars are no more. They've been replaced by ninjas, superheroes, and computers.

Lego Mindstorms are a legitimate toy for adults, with its previously unimaginable abilities and approachability. It's computer science made for kids, that's still fun when you're all grown up.

But if all you want is to feel the joy of spilling hundreds of pieces onto your bedroom floor, sifting through them for hours, and eventually building something recognizable, you can try their constantly updated Creator Expert genre, which includes a detailed Old Trafford, book shop, roller coaster, and Winnebago (which, I can personally attest, is a fantastic desk ornament).

Video games have also come a long way since the Game Cube, Playstation, or-for the truly antiquated-the Sega Genesis and N64. Of course, you already know this. With the Playstation 5 and XBox Series X set to release this holiday season, it may be time to restage those hilarious videos of children discovering their N64s on Christmas morning.

Old toys can also be repurposed. Diecast cars, like Matchbox and HotWheels, can be stripped and repainted to match your dream car. Just find your old cars, put paint stripper and Enamel paints on your wish list, and free up a few hours for a nostalgic, wholesome, and (at times) tedious craft. Once again, I can personally attest to how addictive this can become.

So long story short, if you don't know how to start your Christmas wish list, the toys from your childhood may be a good starting point. Just open a wish list on Things to Get Me, Google your favorite childhood toy, and try not to waste a day reminiscing.

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always has been, always will be