The holidays are over, the decorations have been packed away, the last chocolate coin has been consumed and everyone is plodding back along into their old routine.
Except everything is not quite back to how it was.
Over the last 12 days a number of unsolicited items have been smuggled into your home, wrapped in bright paper and sparkly ribbons. You did not have prior knowledge of what these parcels contained, let alone a chance to grant them your approval.
And now, as the final flurry of wrapping paper has been cleared away, it is beginning to dawn on you that you have been invaded, and it’s too late to do anything about it.
Christmas is a time for giving, and that’s all very well and good. But there really should be a rule when buying presents for other people’s children – you must ask yourself, “Can you go about your daily life with this being played over and over again in the same room as you?” And if you should even hesitate before answering yes, then DO NOT INFLICT IT ON ME VIA MY CHILD!
Here are the top toys heading to a charity shop near me before January is out.
1. The Talking Activity Gadget
On the surface it seems like a great present. A toy that talks to your child so you don’t have to.
But why do they all have such irritating, high-pitched voices? Can your little one really be learning anything as they hit the button that makes it warble the alphabet erratically for the twenty seventh time in a row? And why, oh God why, is there no off switch?
Fortunately it uses £50 worth of batteries a fortnight, giving you an excuse never to replace them.
2. The Expensive Collectible
My offspring had been getting through life perfectly happily, blissfully unaware that there was a set of little animals that dress and live like people. That is, people who live in extortionately priced houses with even more ludicrously expensive furniture sold in little sets.
And then someone gave them one for Christmas and now they want to build the whole town.
All their birthday and Christmas and Tooth Fairy money forevermore will be squandered on yet another piece of miniature furniture worth more than any of the full size furnishings in our home.
Until they are introduced to their next fad, and the costly, half-complete collection is left to gather dust with the rest of them.
3. The Christmas-themed Cuddly Toy
As if we didn’t already have more stuffed animals than a dodgy fairground attraction, the last thing we needed was another to add to the pile of neglected not-favourites that must bow down before her beloved bunny.
But of all the forgotten cuddly toys, the one with the red Christmas hat stitched to its head is the one I feel most sorry for.
It’s almost as though it knew from the outset that its days were numbered.
A favourite teddy is for life, but a Christmas teddy only gets cuddled for a few seconds after the paper has been torn off, before it is quickly cast aside to make way for the next present.
It may get stuffed in the box with all the others, a few chocolatey finger-prints on its white fur indicating that it knew real love for about 30 seconds, but its red and white costume marks it out as the little toy that everyone forgot.
4. The Giant Floor Puzzle
We all had a present like this under our tree. The really big, extravagant one that takes up loads of room and has loads of parts. And requires loads of concentration to play.
It was really exciting when it first got opened. There were exclamations of joy and everyone started joining in and playing together.
But then they got distracted by food or television, or another present and it got left strewn all over the floor.
It gets in the way, it’s a nightmare to hoover around, bits soon get lost and it rarely ever gets completed even once.
If it made a noise it would be top of the list.
5. The New Favourite Book
It seemed such an endearing story the first time they settled down on your lap to read it. The flaps were so brand new you had to help rip the perforations in the card to open them, and you were genuinely interested in how it ended.
But since Christmas morning you have read it over, and over, and over, and over again.
They may not be able to read yet, but by golly they can remember every word. And if you try and skip out even half a sentence they’ll call you out on it.
“Why don’t we read Dear Zoo tonight? You used to love that.” But oh no, it has to be that new Christmas book again.
What a shame it seems to have disappeared…