It’s hard enough being a parent during the holidays. Now, try being a parent when there’s a shortage of just about everything, and you can't find that doll, toy, or gadget your child wants.
The good news: you may be able to find a suitable substitute.
Rob Kearney is a toy store manager who is busy helping parents find alternatives to hot toys that are in short supply.
Can't find that LOL Surprise set? Surprise, Kearney has some alternatives.
"If you are looking for an LOL doll and we know there's a shortage of them, it might not be the LOL doll you are looking for. But we can show you Polly Pockets or some Calico Critters, " he said.
With popular toys like the Hot Wheels Mario Kart Raceway, the Magic Mixies Cauldron, and even some Tonka trucks hard to find, Kierney recommends asking the story store manager about alternatives.
"We have Bruder which is a German company," he said, showing a big yellow truck. "They have a lot of neat construction trucks and things like that."
His advice: don't promise specific brands and names this year.
"I have even been talking to my kids that Santa Claus might not be specific, so I give some generalities," he said.
And don't promise a new Xbox Series X or PS5: they are nearly impossible to find unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars over retail on sites like eBay.
Good teaching moment for families
Dr. Judy Ho says this can also be a great teaching moment.
"So, sit them down and explain to them that despite your best efforts, you weren't able to get them this toy that it was nothing that they did, but that they're going to have to wait a little longer," she said. "But in the meantime, would they like to pick out an alternate toy until they get the toy of their choice?"
She points out that research shows that delaying gratification leads to better life skills.
As for your own frustration, remember that not finding that Hot Wheels track isn't the end of the world.
"So be gentle with yourself," Dr. Ho said. "The holidays are an important time for self-compassion, which we have so little of."
And your child might even like the gift.
"There's not going to be any tears on Christmas, and they will still be happy with what they got," Kearney said.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
Like" John Matarese Money on Facebook
Follow John on Instagram @johnmataresemoney
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com