Why you should spend money on holidays instead of toys

If you look at all of the toys your children have, how many do they still use and appreciate?

April 05 2023

If you look at all of the toys your children have, how many do they still use and appreciate? psychologist Oliver James bets the answer "ranges from one-in-five to two-thirds."

"The whole business of providing material commodities for kids - in ever more expensive forms as they get older - is 100 per cent about propping up the industry that profits from it," Oliver told The Telegraph, London

"On the other hand, family holidays are definitely valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterwards in their memory. So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense."

Despite parents and children agreeing experiences are far more beneficial, we keep buying more stuff.

"The first and simplest mistake that an awful lot of parents make is confusing what they find exciting about a holiday with what their children will," says James. 'So many of the ‘interesting’ things about a new place are deathly boring to the vast majority of children - high culture, for example, in almost all forms. So your child, if at all typical, will grumble at the ghastly business of being dragged round."

Instead, James says parents need to remember that children see the world differently: "Through consumption for example: the way that French cafes have Orangina instead of Fanta is fascinating to kids, and details like that will stick with them for long after the holiday ends."

He adds: "Give a two-year-old a present and she’ll get absorbed in the box instead," says James. "It’s similar with children and travel. We should let them explore their own ways of finding wonder in their surroundings."

Most importantly, Oliver points out that holidays, to children, are long stretches of uninterrupted play with their parents. But also a good opportunity to take kids out of their sometimes stressful everyday lives.

While he admits there are benefits to playing with toys, the problem is they don’t make them like they used to. Instead of bringing people together like a board game does, modern toys are "creating distance" between family members.