Black Friday has come and gone but there’s another big expense looming: Christmas.
Most South Africans are guilty of overspending – especially when it comes to the festive season.
There’s plenty of advice out there about how to curb your spending on presents for the adults in your lives (with some saying we shouldn’t spend anything at all) but it’s hard not to shell out something for the kids.
And when it comes to buying presents for children, it’s easy to get carried away.
Children always want the latest toys and gadgets, and retailers and brands know this.
In the run-up to Christmas, we’re being constantly bombarded with adverts and, if the recent Black Friday splurge is anything to go by, it seems they are successful.
So how much should you spend on children this year? The answer is: What you can afford.
“I think we are all aware that it’s been a tough year and presents can be a luxury.
"I don’t believe parents need to spend thousands of rands on toys that in a few months’ time will more than likely be forgotten,” says Leanne Gordon-Myers, owner of Pollywiggles, the South African distributor of Keycraft Global toys.
If you’re keen on keeping the Christmas gifting budget low this year, here’s what you should do:
There’s no underestimating the pester power that children wield when we’re out and about in the shops with them.
According to one report, one in six parents claim they find it difficult to say no to their acquisitive children when they are nagged for something at the shops.
It also said that an only child is most likely to be spoilt, while fathers are seen as a softer touch than mothers.
But it’s important to resist the urge of giving in to tantrums and demands from toddlers and children (however hard it may be).
If you know that you tend to give in easily, rather stay at home and order Christmas gifts online when the children are at school or asleep.
It will also give you the opportunity to compare prices at your leisure without having to run from store to store.
GO FOR QUALITY (WHICH CAN BE DONE FOR UNDER R200)
There is so much available on the market that knowing what to buy is daunting, but you can get some great toys for under R100 if you know what to look for.
“As a guideline, I’d say go for quality, educational toys that will be beneficial to the child, like simple toys that promote learning through play.
“A good example is the Nurchums hatching egg, which is under R100, and teaches children about patience and compassion.
"Another simple toy and fun stocking fill is anything slimy; it’s a huge craze right now.
"Gooballz are under R150 and come with a karabiner and key chains in different colours that kids can collect,” says Gordon-Myers.
She adds: “There are also great Stem toys on the market for under R200, which teach kids about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, for example the Magnoidz toys range.”
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CYBER MONDAY
Black Friday may be over, but you could still get a bargain tomorrow (Cyber Monday) if you plan to get a tech gift for your kids.
But be doubly sure that you’re still getting a good deal before you buy.
“Prices can be deceiving, and pressure shopping might result in paying over the odds.
"To avoid disaster, we recommend using a product discovery and comparison service, such as PriceCheck to run a quick search to confirm you’ve landed a deal, before you commit,” says Kevin Tucker, founder and CEO of PriceCheck.
BAN UNNECESSARY GIFTS
Christmas traditions could result in shelling out for the extended family too.
To keep within your budget, you may have to explain to other members of your family that this is no longer affordable.
Create a budget for just your children and, if it allows for anyone else in the extended family, enlarge the list to nieces and nephews and so on.
And don’t give in to any demand when it comes to your children, otherwise it will teach them to spend and splurge like you do.
“A helpful guideline that I love to use when it comes to Christmas shopping for kids is to buy them something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read,” advises Gordon-Myers.
There’s no rule that says you have to buy new gifts when it comes to Christmas.
“Modern consumer culture has taught us that we need everything new, every time.
“In a bid to counter this, more and more online stores are popping up encouraging the purchase of “gently used” or “pre-loved” clothes, toys and books,” says a spokesperson for skin care brand Pure Beginnings.
Consider looking around on sites like Gumtree, or agree to swap toys with other parents, especially when there’s a stack of them that the children don’t play with any more.
CONSIDER RENTING TOYS
Companies like The Smart Toy Club have a variety of membership options for parents.
Advantages of renting toys, they say, include the fact that it reduces waste and keeps children stimulated because you exchange for a new bag about every four weeks.
The package costs R349 per month and you collect the toys package at a Pargo Store near you.
If you are Cape Town-based you can collect toys from one of the pick-up points in Wynberg or Gardens for R249 a month, while those within 50km of the Mother City can pay extra (R299 per month) to have toys delivered to a home or work address.