I hate toy catalogs, flyers and Sunday newspaper inserts. All they do is give my children a group of false wants and a bad case of the “gimmes,” which is exactly what the savvy marketers want. My kids aren't generally greedy. We have family in far-flung places, so they do begin their Christmas lists early, usually sometime after Halloween. This isn't out of greed but necessity since family members request it early so they have time to shop and ship.
I begin shopping even earlier and I am one by December 1st. Those last minute “I wants,” fueled more by a glossy ad than the actual wants of the child, just set the boys up for disappointment. The kids know they only get four gifts (three from mom and dad, one from Santa), and then the four or so others that trickle in from the extended family. Although they know the shopping is done, they can't help but hope the newest fad item will be sitting under the tree.
Well, it won't be. We used to try and do one of those last-minute fad items. Sure, the kid was ecstatic Christmas morning, but my January first the toy was gathering dust because it was just an artificial want.
Plus, so many of those items are just boring. They only do one thing and they don't leave much room for creative play. My youngest has finally learned that he doesn't like action figures, after years of obsessing over the latest one. He admitted they are boring and that he just wants them to have them, not because he wants to play with them.
So this year, I have banned the catalogs. I toss them into the recycling bin as quickly as they enter the mailbox. I've limited TV to Netflix and prerecorded shows so we can skip commercials. The kids' lists have remained constant this season, with no signs of green and no bad case of the “gimmes.”