Friday, 25 November 2011

Can a man be an efficient Christmas present buyer?

“What are you getting Max for Christmas?”

I’ve been asked this a few times, at the times I’ve been unable to avoid the parents’ playground chatter.

“Not a lot.” Is my usual not at all Paul Daniels esq reply.

But obviously my not-a-lot, and the next not-a-lot will vary enormously, or not, not-a-lot anyway.

My son’s birthday is only a few days before Jesus’s, so I have that as an added complication/expense.

So when the folks from set me the challenge of getting all his Christmas presents for £75 I was delighted, thinking it was great to have a budget to work to and really be forced to think hard about what he would enjoy rather than being scatter gun with my gift purchases and my wallet.

I know that Littlewoods don’t think men make frugal shoppers, but I hope I’m proof that they are misguided.

Now before reading on you must promise me that these gifts remain a secret, and that you don’t tell the boy, promise?

This is what I’ve bought and why.

1: Connect 4 (£5.95 from Amazon)

My boy loves playing games. Last year one of his relatives bought him Guess Who and he loves it. We even had a family tournament recently. During this particular competition Max learnt what a ‘Bye’ was, and I reaffirmed that no one is going to let him win. Hollow wins only seed doubt and insecurities, in my not-so humble opinion. Anyway, I thought at seven he may be ready for Connect 4 logic, or at least be barely competitive versus the might of the Newbold collective, hence including this on the list.

2: Hexbug Nano Spiral Starter Kit (£17.50 from Amazon)

We got sent some Hexbugs last year, as we did again for Halloween. A really simple concept of vibrating plastic bugs that work their way around an environment you build for them. This set will add to what we already have. Mind, I had a sock full of these bad-boys stuck down my top this week as a tickling/torture device. I think this will be a hit.

3: I Can Read Books, Spiderman, Superman & Wonder Woman (£7.92 from Amazon)

Reading should be fun, especially for boys reluctant to learn themselves. Max is in this category but he also loves superheroes. He already has one book from this series that he likes, so rather than him getting bored with it I thought I would add to his collection, and thus my stealth learning-to-read tool library.

4: Lego SpongeBob Glove World (£17.99 from Play)

Is Lego the best toy ever? I’m struggling to think of a better one. We have a good few sets here, varying in size – and cost – Max flits between the different themes and brands that Lego now comes in. However I’ve learnt – as has he – that he much prefers small sets that include mini-figures. He always builds the sets, but they then get broken down, and he ends up just role-playing with the figures. He doesn’t have any SpongeBob toys, but has enjoyed the cartoons when he’s seen them. So this gives him the characters from that series so he can go and play with them, recreate stories and make new ones. Probably going to be a SpongeBob versus Captain Jack Sparrow blood bath here at some point on Christmas Day.

5: Luke Skywalker costume (£25.50 Fun Warehouse)

As my favourite film character it’s a disgrace that my son does not own this dressing-up costume already. He also has a small collection of lightsabers, including Luke’s signature green one. I’m selling that a bit short, it’s actually the Star Wars Ultimate FX Lightsaber, it lights up – a Star Wars nerd would say ‘ignites’ – and makes sounds. It is a wonderful piece of kit, and now he has a costume to go with it. I expect to be embroiled in some sort of Jedi duel, probably over roast potatoes come Jesus’s birthday.

So my grand total for this lot is £74.86, and I am very pleased – and a little smug - with all my purchases. I hope my son will be too.

Thanks to price comparison site Idealo and in your face Littlewoods.