As much as I would like to hibernate at home until it is all over, I have children and I like them more than I don't like Christmas time so I need to get out there and do that thing I hate doing - buying gifts.
Buying gifts causes me huge anxiety. It's hard to explain, but there is so much angst wrapped up in buying a gift for someone. Will they like it? Is it too expensive? Is it too cheap? Should I buy this one or buy that one? What if I could get it cheaper elsewhere? Should I shop around or just buy it here and save time?
I usually end up spending too much money on something that I resent buying because it has now cost me 10x more in terms of time and angst. WHY CAN'T EVERYONE JUST BE HAPPY WITH CASH??? I would be happy with cash. Then I could go choose something I really like.
I hate buying gifts.
So when Toy Kingdom toy store approached me to do a review about Christmas shopping at their store, I wasn't sure if I was the right person to do so. I don't like shopping and I don't like Christmas time and I especially don't like Christmas shopping, surely I am the worst person for the job!?
And yet.... If they could make it easier for me and I didn't altogether hate the process, then perhaps I am actually the best person for the job....
Result: I didn't absolutely hate shopping at the Toy Kingdom store during December (!!) on a SATURDAY (!!) in the busiest mall (!!) in Cape Town with all three of my kids (!!) plus one of their friends.
(Yes, I actually took all three of my kids (plus a friend) to a toy store on a Saturday afternoon during December. I am either very brave, or very stupid)
The reason why I didn't absolutely hate shopping there because Toy Kingdom have really made the process as pleasant as they can, even for a hater like me.
For all the reasons that normal people would appreciate, plus a few that appeal to odd-balls like me:
They have a Festive Season Gift Guide in-store with all the top selling items listed on it. Narrows down the choice hugely. I was asked to shop from the Top 50 best selling gifts and that really helped me. Instead of having to choose from thousands of options, I was forced to choose from the top 50 for this review. You would be able to choose from anything of course, but the Festive Season Gift Guide shows you what's popular according to children around the world.
The other thing that helps is that everything is laid out so clearly and neatly. You can see exactly where the Lego is, where the Hot Wheels are etc. If you are prepared with a shopping list before you visit the store, you can go straight to the section you want. I like that a lot.
Then, the staff are really friendly. They seem to want to be there (crazy people!!) and they are very knowledgable about the products they sell. I have been to other toy stores where the staff look like they hate being there (don't blame them) and seem clueless about what they do or don't sell.
The thing that really impressed me about the store (and these appeal to my oddness) is that it is light, roomy, has high ceilings, is clean and doesn't smell. For some or other reason, most toy stores make me anxious in terms of the feeling I get when I go into them. They are dark, cramped, over-crowded, over-loaded and they smell. The Toy Kingdom store at Canal Walk has super high ceilings and plenty of space between the displays. Plus the store is very well-lit The colours they have chosen for their branding and in-store display (white and green) add to the brightness / lightness of the place. For most people, this might not seem like a big thing, but for someone who has a fine trigger on things-that-make-me-anxious, I really appreciate a more calming environment to do something that can be very stressful (toy shopping with children!).
As part of the blogger campaign Toy Kingdom are doing, we had to choose something off the Top 50 best-selling gift list. I had already bought something for Adam and Max (they are very into Rubiks Cube at the moment, so even though they already have one, they wanted another one because apparently the one that Toy Kingdom sells is the the BEST one because it moves so smoothly / quickly. Whatever. Me = sucker), so Kate got to choose from the Top 50 list. She chose a Zoomer Meowzie. A cat robot thingy that does things. That's my technical description. Their description is: Zoomer Meowzies are interactive kittens with lights, sensors, and sounds. They play games and react to touch.
Side Note: The best thing about having an 11 year old? She can read the instructions by herself, set the whole thing up and insert the batteries herself. That makes me so happy. I really suck at having to follow instructions to set something up. I have very little patience so I usually give up after about 2 minutes of trying.
Bottom line - if you want to / have to go toy shopping for Christmas presents, I highly recommend going to Toy Kingdom. Friendly, knowledgable staff, well-lit clean stores. They have an enormous range so there is literally 1000s of options. And if that huge choice freaks you out too much, ask them for their Festive Season Gift Guide so that you can see what other cool parents are buying for their kids :). Or even better, dash in and out in 5 minutes and get a Toy Kingdom gift card and then your kids can go to the store and choose something themselves. Which I think is a much more sensible idea. I love gift cards.
Do yourself a favour, and do all your Christmas toy shopping at Toy Kingdom and save yourself lots of stress and anxiety. For more info, visit their website.
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Key words: Christmas gifts, Christmas, Toys, Toy Kingdom, TKFestiveWishlist, ToyKingdomFestiveWishlist
Here are the three kids (plus a friend!) in the Toy Kingdom store on a busy weekend day in December (!!)