Liz Weston: How a shortage of toys affects your holiday

Many popular toys can be sold out long before vacation due to the ongoing pandemic-related turmoil. This can be a disaster — or a great opportunity to reshape the way we celebrate.

You can shop faster and more thoughtfully by resisting last-minute scrambling of “necessities” that aren’t really the case. Choose from the classic ones over the trendy ones and the handmade ones over the mass-produced ones. We can exchange experiences for things and even make them learning opportunities for our children.

This approach requires some strategy, but it can be a healthier and less stressful vacation.

Why there is a shortage of toys

The lack of holidays is nothing new. For most years, when manufacturers and retailers misjudgment demand, trendy toys and game consoles become hot and hard-to-find items.

What may be different this year is the number of toys missing. Most toys and electronics are manufactured in Asia, but while bottlenecks at ports are delaying delivery, shipping costs are skyrocketing. Jonathan Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy at the National Retail Federation, said container shipping costs rose from about $ 3,500 to “well over $ 20,000” during the pandemic.

“The entire pandemic supply chain extends from end to end,” says Gold.

Higher costs are often passed on to consumers as higher prices. And the potential shortage should encourage people to start shopping as soon as possible, says Jillian Wahlquist, vice president of Tom’s Toys, an independent retailer with three locations in California.

“If you have a special toy or something that your parents are really looking for, buy it now,” says Wahlquist.

How to avoid crazy scrambling of toys

Of course, buying a panic early in the season can be as damaging to your budget as waiting to the very end. Consider creating a vacation budget now that incorporates all the expected costs of gifts, decoration, entertainment, travel, and more. Make a note of everyone who plans to buy the gift and how much you plan to spend, and then coordinate to keep your spending in line with measures to avoid debt.

If you’re buying a gift for your child and don’t know what you want, or if you’re worried that your child’s interest may diminish by the holidays, consider some alternatives.

The first alternative is to choose a classic toy that will remain attractive for a long time. Architectural toys such as board games, art supplies, crafts, and wooden blocks have several possibilities.

Another option: Handmade gifts. If you’re not cunning, you can buy wooden toys, plush toys, and other handmade options at online creative marketplaces such as craft trade fairs, farmers markets, and Etsy. These can be expensive, but quality and attractiveness can justify the cost. In addition, it benefits individuals and small businesses, not retail giants.

Giving experience can be another great option, especially for teenagers. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that children aged 3 to 12 prefer material gifts, and older children get more happiness from experience. Researchers have found that teenagers develop memory and can recall details of events, which contribute to lasting well-being. Sharing photos and videos of the event may be helpful, according to researchers, but younger children have a hard time remembering and appreciating past experiences.

Experiences include rock climbing and trampoline gyms, mini golf courses and passes to the amusement park. Travel; or lessons to stimulate or nurture specific interests such as horseback riding, coding, baking, etc. Tickets for sporting events, concerts and shows are usually optional, but during a pandemic these may not be feasible or desirable.

Play a memory game

Speaking of memories, try this with your kids. Ask your kids about their favorite gifts from last year, a year ago, or a year ago. Even teenagers with well-developed memories may have a hard time remembering past gifts.

The important thing is not to be ashamed of your children for not remembering them. Rather, you can share the memories you have. It probably has more to do with the time you spend together than what you give each other. Together, you may make a list of what you want to do as a family during your vacation.

When my daughter was little, she created an Advent calendar with one activity each day, such as baking cookies, building a gingerbread house, and checking out nearby holiday lights. She is now in college and has good memories of what we did together long after the toys, games and stuffed animals went to goodwill.

You can’t untwist the supply chain, fill the store shelves, and swing the magic wand to make all your wishes come true. However, focusing on what you can control can help you deal with what you can’t control, even on holidays and at any time of the year.

Liz Weston is a columnist at Nerd Wallet, a certified financial planner and author of Your Credit Score. Email: Twitter: Liz Weston.

Liz Weston: How a shortage of toys affects your holiday

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