Yes, I know summer has barely arrived but, as is tradition, Hamleys has now revealed its predictions for the must-have toys for this Christmas. While animals are dominating the list (the robotic kind not the real kind) we took a look to see whether the list meets the standards of today's frugal parents or if Britons will be facing the impossible this year.
Clearly, I am going to answer this with a big resounding 'no'. I cannot stress enough how much I love everything to do with Christmas, and the joy of giving is part and parcel of the holiday season.
I feel the same way about gift-giving as that little boy on last year's John Lewis advert: spending time picking out the perfect gift, experiencing the build-up in the weeks leading up to the big exchange, the recipient's reaction making it all worth it... who wouldn't want that?
Yes, it's a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things but Christmas provides the chance to give something back to the people you love and, although spending time together is the most important thing for the majority of the population (68% in fact, according to a poll by National Employment Savings Trust), I think presents really do add to the overall experience – no matter how small. It's always nice to have something to give and something to open.
However, money-saving expert Martin Lewis compiled an article ('It's time to ban Christmas presents') which has some interesting points and makes for a decent read. I've summarised it here; see what you think:
By Dale.LovellGuest Blogger
Christmas and New Year
With Christmas less than a fortnight away, many Santas are finding they've left it a little too late to pick up the toy that their child simply must have. Consequently, in this hard-up climate, parents are forking out double or even triple the RRP for hard-to-find toys on places like ebay. Personally, as much as I love my kids, I'm looking to get their Christmas presents cheaper than retail by using vouchers and online deals, not pay three times as much.
Back in the seventies, when the average wage was about £90 a week (with many people falling way below that) parents couldn't even dream of paying over the odds for something just because their kids had been brainwashed by clever advertising into believing they wanted it. However, it's now possible to see just what was popular in the 70s, thanks to artist Anthony Voz who found an Argos catalogue from 1976 and has uploaded it page by page to the web.
If anyone is hit hard by today's economy, it's jolly old Saint Nick himself. While everyone is tightening their belts the world over, Santa is well known for his rather rotund belly so that extra notch is going to take some breathing in! Fortunately for all you parents out there (and aunts, uncles, grandparents etc) it seems the High Street is giving us all a little extra breathing room by slashing the prices on some of the most popular kids' toys for Christmas and we've found some of the best deals so you don't have to!
My husband and I don't have children, which is probably a good thing as I can't spend more than two hours with other people's kids. I've actually timed it. One hour and 59 minutes with your five year old and I can be completely pleasant. For two whole hours your pesky kid can scream and throw tantrums as much as he likes and then I stop trying to hide my wincing and looks of disappointment. Two hours is the limit for me before I can no longer keep a fake smile on face when they put their sticky hands on my glass dining room table. One minute later and I start complaining of headaches and become crabby.