‘Tis the season for Shopapalooza.

The first rule of Shopapalooza is we don’t talk about Shopapalooza.

We don’t tell our husbands or our mothers about how much we spent. We hush up about the fact that we likely rebought the same gift we got our kids last year because we forgot we already gave it to them. We remain mum about the basement/garage/attic/playroom/closet(s) that is overflowing with various toys, pieces of puzzles, unwatched DVDs, unplayed games, and half-completed art projects.

And yet, here we are, about to do it all over again with the impending holiday season.

Shopping for kids can be difficult. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned after a decade plus of experience:

  1. No matter how many players a game has, do not ever attempt to give one game to all your children.
  2. On a related note, you know the packaging on the games and toys? The pictures that promise hours of quiet play, quality family time, and a lack of sibling rivalry? IT’S ALL A LIE.
  3. If you have a child who is three years old or younger, they’ll like the box more than the gift, no matter what it is.
  4. I often find myself buying things *I* want. Toys I wish I’d had when I was a kid, toys I wish my kids would like to play with, or toys I want to play with now. But not necessarily toys my kids asked for.
  5. Once you’ve finished your shopping, you will find the perfect gift for one of your kids, thus requiring you to go back out and get all the other kids an additional gift because: guilt.

In all seriousness, I read this bit of advice in another mom blog and it really resonated. Try the rule of four for your kids: one gift they want, one gift they need, one gift they wear, and one gift they read. This allows you to buy them useful, practical gifts that should have a longer shelf life, while still giving them something they want and helping you to maintain a budget. And the gift from Santa can be that toy that you really wanted to play with.

And if you haven’t figured out one of those 4 gifts, remember a magazine subscription to one of Cricket Media’s award winning magazines is a gift they can appreciate all year long. You can even announce your gift in style with one of our free print-at-home holiday cards. Best wishes for a warm and happy holiday season from all of us at Cricket Media.

Cricket Media Mama swears she’s not shopping anymore. And that her daughter really did want the super-cool hoverboard that the guy at work was showing off, even if her daughter hasn’t actually seen it yet. You know, the one that’s coming from Santa.