What's every parent's Christmas nightmare? We've all been there. We've got our Santa clothes on and finally have the kids secure in their beds. We unload the items from the attic and bring them down to the living room to begin the assembly process. Some of us drink a few cocktails and watch It's A Wonderful Life, trying to savor every minute of it. Until the minutes become hours. Why? Because of the ridiculous measures that toy manufacturers take to securely fasten the toys to the packaging so that they are displayed to utter perfection on the store shelves, catching the eye of young passer-bys. These days the displays involve all manner of torture devices from plastic wrapped wire to strategically placed rubber bands, screws and industrial staples. It all adds up to a frustration filled Christmas Eve when Santa hats become sweat bands and holiday cheer turns into yuletide rage.
Time allotted for assembly of the Littlest Pet Shop Fitness Center: 5 minutes.
Actual time required: 47 minutes
Cost: your mental health
After five or six of these episodes, you are tired, frazzled, angry and half drunk and the pile of trash that has accumulated in the corner is beginning to resemble the debris of a demolished building.
The purpose of this post is not to wallow in this misery but to let parents in on a genius little secret: THIS CAN ALL BE AVOIDED!
In a move that can only be classified as genius, Amazon.com has partnered with Mattel and other manufacturers to provide its customers with "Frustration Free Packaging." What this means for me is that the Barbie Cruise Ship (no, my daughter is not into age-appropriate toys) that I ordered yesterday will arrive on my doorstep in a big cardboard box with zero packaging. They'll be no clear plastic viewing window, no attempt at aesthetic shelf appeal, just a toy in a box, a big, glorious toy in a box. This brings me great joy and hope for humanity and, coupled with the free shipping offered on many Amazon.com products and their low prices, gives me almost no motivation to shop elsewhere.
So, get out there and rage against the department store machine and do your holiday shopping at Amazon.com. Maybe toy manufacturers will take the hint and do a little good for our collective mental health and the environment and get rid of the ridiculous over-packaging that has taken over store shelves of late.