Making merry on a $150 toy budget? Santa makes magic!

story tease

By Mark Sweetwood

Managing Editor


OK, let's play "Let's Pretend."

Let's pretend you are Santa.

And further, let's pretend the elves are on strike (If only SB 5 had passed!).

And, let's further pretend that 7-year-old Billy and 8-year-old Suzy have been very, very good. Billy likes Toy Story and trucks and things that shoot. Suzy is fascinated by Barbie and dress up and fashion.

And, you have a limited budget. You are aiming for $150 per child. To a mere mortal, that would seem impossible. But you have help: Using The Vindicator's biggest newspaper of the year, you target six stores from 10 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday and you map out a plan you will execute with ruthless efficiency.

Let's go:

• Walmart at 10 p.m.: Hot Wheels 8-pack of cars, $5; Disney Princess doll $5; Sponge Bob Ants in the Pants, $3.88; Cootie game, $3.88; Tonka Truck variety pack, $10. Total: 27.76

• Kohl's at midnight: Barbie and her horse, $19.99; Barbie and her VW, $19.99; Toy Story play set, $24.99. Total: $64.97 (plus $15 in Kohl's Cash to use Monday). Online Thursday, this would be 55.22 if you apply the GOBBLE15 code at checkout.

• J.C. Penney at midnight: Barbie, $3.99; Nerf gun, $3.99; Another Nerf gun, $7.99. Total: $15.97.

• Target at midnight: Radio-controlled Harley Davidson truck, $18.99; Toy Story play tent, $10; Disney Princess play tent, $10. Total: $38.99.

• Five Below at 6 a.m. Toy Story Operation game, $5; two snuggle pillows, $7.98; DC Superman figure, $3.99; DC Batman figure, $5; Make Your Own Jewely, $5; Disney Princess stationary kit, $5. Total: $31.97

• Big Lots at 7 a.m. (This one is tricky. Two of you need to be in line first and check out separately.): For Billy: $5, 30" Dakin plusher, Toy Story Action Links, $5; Hot Wheels Bionic Battle playset, $19, remote-controlled Extreme ATV, $19, Christmas candy, $3. For Suzy: $5 Dakin plush bear, Polaroid 4GB MP3 player, $14.88, Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk, $19; Disney Fairy Light Up Doll, $15, Christmas candy, $3. Total: $107.88 plus you get $20 to use on your next purchase starting Monday.

So, Billy would find under the tree: Hot Wheels cars, Tonka Trucks, two Toy story play sets, two Nerf guns, two remote controlled toys, a Toy story play tent, the Operation game, two action figures, a snuggle pillow, a giant bear and a Hot Wheels play set.

Suzy would find A Disney Princess doll, three Barbies and a horse and car, Disney Princess play tent, a snuggle plow, a jewelry play set, Disney Princess stationary, a giant plush bear, a MP3 player, a Disney Princess dress up set and a Disney Princess light up doll.

They would also have two games to share.

Total before taxes? $287.54. Taxes will put you $10 over your budget.

But what about batteries? Wrapping paper? Does Santa seriously think he can get away with just $6 total in candy?

Relax. You still have $15 credit at Kohl's and $20 at Big Lots. So your buying power exceeds the $300 budget.

And if Santa wanted to throw in a family gift – a Wii, a big TV, a computer, etc. – he has some leverage because the toys are taken care of because you made lists and a game plan and stuck to that plan.

And to all a good night…

Send me your finds, ideas and questions! Email: Twitter: @VindyDeals.

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