Put Down the Hamster; Stop the Holiday Shopping Madness

by A Guest Writer · 9 comments

in Guest Posts

This year’s hottest toy is the Zhu Zhu Pet. This electronic hamster has grabbed the attention of little kids, and their parents are scrambling this holiday season to find one in stores. It normally retails for $9.99. However, because of the shortage of Zhu Zhu Pets at Toys R Us, Target, Walmart and other retail locations, Craiglist and eBay sellers are selling Zhu Zhu Pets for double to quintuple their retail price. Parents are paying these outrageous prices.

The Ledger interviewed Karen Aguayo, a Miramar mother of 7-year-old, Zhu Zhu-crazed twins to find out why she would pay more than retail price. “My kids are really good and they asked for only one thing,” Aguayo said. “You don’t want to break their hearts and tell them Santa couldn’t come through for them.” Even a brief safety scare didn’t dim the enthusiasm for this little toy.

As a parent of two wonderful kids, I understand the need to give your children the perfect holiday. However, it doesn’t make any sense to pay more than the retail price for a fad toy. That’s right, it’s a fad. This year it’s Zhu Zhu Pets and next year it will be something else. Yes, your kid might want a Zhu Zhu Pet because their friends have one or they’ve seen the commercial hype on TV, but it’s not going to ruin your holiday if you don’t get one.

Take a deep breath and tell yourself, “The holidays are about family, not Zhu Zhu pets.” If your child is obsessed with getting a Zhu Zhu pet, sit down and discuss the true meaning of the holidays. Set the expectation level that they’re not going to get everything they want. Above all, don’t break your budget or stress yourself out by hunting for a toy that your child might lose interest in after a month.

Save your money. Put down the hamster, and don’t participate in the holiday shopping madness.

About the Author:

Kathryn Katz is a working mom and Certified Personal Finance Counselor. She works for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, a non-profit credit counseling agency. For additional holiday shopping tips, check out their Smart Holiday Shopping Guide.


1 Emily December 16, 2009

I *love* this post! After wrapping the Christmas presents last night and feeling a little disappointed at the lack of presents this year, I realized that we really need to focus on why we celebrate. It doesn’t make sense that we receive presents for Someone Else’s birthday, does it? So on my heart is “what gift can I give Jesus this year?” And I think I know what it is. A friend and his family are in some pretty serious financial issues right now, and we’re going to go grocery shopping. Also, I want to start giving to the Millennium Village project. Aside from my heart, I hope that these gifts please Jesus on His birthday!

And, for those scalping hamsters, they should really be ashamed of themselves. That’s completely not in the spirit of Christmas!

2 Kathryn December 16, 2009

I think the greatest gift you can give is spending time with your family and friends. I think you have some great ideas for celebrating the holiday. 🙂

3 autumnesf December 16, 2009

I read a book once on how the toy companies pick the toys they are going to cause a crazy for and intentionally under-produce. Then they flood the toy stores with those toys in January. Why? Because of all those parents that PROMISED they would get the coveted toy — they rush out and buy them in January. Without this tactic the toy stores wouldn’t be a ble to pay the light bills in January!

We won’t buy these toys because of this.

I’m hosting a giveaway at my site for a nativity set it you are interested. Free is my favorite kind of present! LOL!
.-= autumnesf´s last blog ..How About A Christmas Giveaway? =-.

4 Kathryn December 16, 2009

Not only do I avoid buying the fad toys, but I also avoid letting my kids watch those silly commercials that advertise them. Instead we get movies through Netflix or watch DVDs.

5 Nancy December 16, 2009

What a great post and let me just say that I couldn't agree more with the sentiment!

I know that people get caught up in "the moment" of Christmas in wanting to provide for the perfect holiday experience but in all honesty, in a few years, our kids won't even remember the gifts. And, do we ever really get that "perfect" experience? And the stress to get it? Is it worth it? It's about traditions, time together, and the greatest gift we've ever received that came as a baby. Looking back in my own life, I only remember about 4 toys that I was given. Granted, I have fond memories of them but where are they now? Ah, but I still have the memories of holidays past and that is what counts.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..continuing the tradition =-.

6 Kathryn December 16, 2009

I agree. My favorite holiday memories are spending time with my family, and not what presents I received.

7 George December 16, 2009

Great post. I guess parents should not give in to their children's desires for holiday fad toys…

By the way, love your blog design. It is so beautiful and easy to read!
.-= George´s last blog ..Weekly Wisdom: The Do-It-Yourself Nation =-.

8 JP December 19, 2009

I have never heard of Zhu-Zhu pets! I guess I can count myself lucky.

I do remember Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony, and that sort of thing, and the rushes and rages that accompanied them. I agree that this is a marketing ploy that dupes so many consumers.

When I was a kid (and I only learned this when I was ‘grown-up!) my parents always had “Santa” bring the small gifts. If my parents could afford a large gift, they wanted the credit!

And if they couldn’t afford it?

Mum figured it was easier for us to understand that things were tight for them, rathr than that things were tight for Santa!

9 Lawrence @ CRB December 25, 2009

While I’m not sure if it’s ever been done, I’d feel pressed to think it has. Anyway, I’d like to see an after report on all of the “have to buy” holiday gifts of the past. Did children really enjoy them and what happened to sales after the holidays were over? Did sales continue to skyrocket or drop like a lead brick? My question is… Do these toys deserve any merit or is it really come down to having a fantastic holiday marketing campaign? Let me think… Well, I guess we can start with this electronic hamster but we’d have to add Elmo for sure. And, what about GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip? Would he make the list?

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