Monday, November 24, 2008

Rage Against the Machine

Packaging nightmare

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, 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 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 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.


  1. the biggest down side I see to this new packaging scheme is no more reason to buy the extra bottle of Grey Goose.

  2. There is ALWAYS an excuse to buy the extra bottle of Grey Goose! Is it Monday?? Grey Goose. Is it Tuesday? Grey Goose. Lent? Grey Goose.

  3. What the heck is Grey Goose? Okay, more importantly what's its alcohol content?
    You HAVE to know that won't be doing this. Sigh.
    Does the toy in the box come assembled though or is it in pieces without the packaging?
    I hate Barbie. I do. Just slightly less than Polly Pockets. Sigh. Way too much work.

  4. we had thrown around the idea of getting Aleita a loft bed for Christmas (from Santa, of course.) When I saw the amount of assembly required for most of them, and pictured the look on Chris's face when he realized that he would be up all night putting it together, I think we are going to skip it.
    That is, unless Papa Dale would like to volunteer his incredibly gifted talented wonderful amazing skills to helping me on this project :) :) :) :) :) :)
    and I have Grey Goose in the freezer!!

  5. This is an answer to holiday prayer! I'm SO going to Amazon right now to do the rest of my shopping. Thanks for the info!

  6. Nope, all your fault. Don't get kids these toys that have to be assembled. We've had only one (our Little Tykes wagon); and luckily, our neighbor (whose house we hid it at) had her son-in-law staying with them (who, incidentally, was the drummer on Bruce Springsteen's album before last, the folk music one) who, out of the goodness of his heart, assembled it for us because my husband was working 12-hour shifts Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that year.
    So our kids' Little Tykes wagon (which, incidentally, is 7 years old and still going strong and was the best present ever) was assembled by Bruce Springsteen's Jewish drummer as a Christmas present to us. Got that?