How can you avoid toy regret? You could start by not buying an $80 dragon.
It’s not that the FurReal Friend “Blaze” toy my daughter got back in late 2016 isn’t really cool – it is. Steam comes out of the dragon’s mouth to “roast” a little fake marshmallow and he moves his head around, blinks his eyes and makes cute baby dragon noises.
Blaze quickly earned a top spot in my daughter’s hierarchy of FurReal Friends that year, and I can see why. But when the initial wow factor wears off, it’s sort of just a fancy stuffed animal with limited playtime potential. It’s a cool toy – just maybe not $80 cool.
Some might call it toy regret or buyer’s remorse, though my kids would disagree.
But we all get it sometimes – whether it’s a kid who saved up months of allowance to buy something that falls short of expectations or parents who feel deflated when the gifts under the tree don’t go over as planned.
Whether for the holidays, a birthday or any occasion, we want to give our readers a hand in the “to buy or not to buy” department.
So we came up with this list of five easy ways to avoid toy regret (and maybe even help you with setting limits on gifts) – for you and your kids.
Look for longer-term play potential, especially if the item is over $20. Will your child want to play with it more than a few times? Show it to their friends or bring it in for show-and-tell? Play kitchens and pretend food, costumes, dolls, action figures and other things that encourage imaginative play can be great for longevity.
2. Does it do something?
Like our buddy Blaze, some toys mostly just sit there – great for temporary entertainment but not much active play.
More active toys like balls, blocks, jump ropes and games have a lot more potential for keeping your kids engaged. The same goes for Play-Doh sets and trains/cars and tracks.
3. Accessories not included
Look out for toys that need coordinating components that aren’t included, like a Barbie pool with no doll and swimsuits or an electronic game without a charging cord (fair warning, Nintendo Switch buyers).
And unless you’re prepared for a new obsession, avoid collectible-type toys that only drive kids to want more and more (we’re looking at you, Pikmi Pops).
4. Be realistic
Toys that bring the whole family together for a good time can make the best gifts, but that’s different than toys that bring parents together for hours trying to figure out how they work – only for the kid to lose interest.
Make sure the child is ready for that robotics kit or 2,000-piece Lego set. If he or she needs more than the expected parental supervision or encouragement, hold off for a while.
5. Where will it go?
It’s so fun presenting kids with a BIG gift all wrapped up with a bow. But keep in mind that those dollhouses, play tents or mega-sized stuffed animals will take up a semi-permanent place in your house – and the bigger it is, the less likely your kid will want to part with it when you’re decluttering.
This post was originally published in 2016 and is updated regularly.
Have you or your kids experienced toy regret? What’s your best toy-buying advice?