Lessons Learned from Gifts that Flopped

My in-laws recently gave my little niece a very cool gift that, once assembled, should have been spectacular – at least you would have thought so from the packaging. But two grown men couldn’t put it together, and it ended up being a bit of a “flop,” as my mother-in-law put it. Believe me, I can empathize with her. I have purchased several gifts for the boys that I thought would be sure hits, but they ended up just being a waste of money.

Take for example the animated dinosaur that we got my oldest for his first birthday. He was scared of it for the next year and a half. Or the plush Woody figure that I just knew he would love, but he slept with it for three nights. Or the zoo playset that I got him, complete with one animal for each letter of the alphabet, that he never really cared for.

I put a lot of time and effort into each of these “flops.” On the other hand, there are two items that I bought on impulse at Albertson’s for $8 each that he loves. One is a plastic wagon. We have used that wagon to play grocery store, to transport bugs and to reenact a scene from Toy Story. Most recently, he has tied it onto the back of his tricycle so that he can pull his stuffed Ewok behind him. Then there’s the cheap lawn mower that I got him. Every summer, he pulls that thing out to “mow like daddy.” And now, even the baby likes it, and he’s been using it as a walker.

With the holidays approaching, I’ll soon be getting my sons a lot more gifts, but I’m trying to remind myself not to go crazy. Maybe this year, I’ll start my holiday shopping at Albertson’s. As my sons can attest, you just never know what fabulous gifts you’ll find there….


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