How can I be certain I’m getting the most value for my money in buying toys?
Spend some time researching before making your final purchases.
Ask your child what toys he would like, check the Internet with him so he can show you the types of items he’s thinking of. Make a note of those items you’re interested in and call toy stores and check out popular toy web sites for pricing before purchasing. Ask the store clerks what the return/damaged good policy is. Some items require you to contact the manufacturer directly, some stores only allow store credit and others will make full refunds. Understanding the policies ahead of time will prevent disappointment down the road.
My child’s been invited to a birthday party next month, how can we be certain the gift we select is appropriate?
Asking the child’s parents for ideas is always a good place to start. Respect the family’s values. For example, if you know the family does not allow much television viewing, then a videotape is probably not a good idea. Also take into account what your children or other children you know about that age like. Toy specialty store personnel are often good resources for unique and popular ideas. Also note the age range and safety messages listed on the packaging. Some party invitations request no gifts be brought or to bring an item for charity (such as a canned good). Honor these instructions respectfully.
How do I determine what my child really wants?
Watch and consider the kinds of activities your child enjoys and engages in often. For example, does she often make up her own stories with dolls and animals or do you have a hard time getting her out of the bathtub? Does he spend a lot of time taking items apart and putting them back together? These are all clues to help you understand the type of toy to look for. This doesn’t mean you don’t buy something outside of the norm for your child – while she may not be interested in something totally new at first, many children will try it at their leisure and may discover a new interest.
If your child is old enough, ask him what he likes to play with, do, and explore. Children are very honest. Be aware that television and media often influences children. Commercials are bright and engaging, with children who look like they are having a great time. Thus, children have a hard time understanding that commercials are not real shows. Explain to your child that the intent of commercials and advertisements is to try to get you to buy something – even if you don’t really want or need it.