Tis the season to buy toys. All that plastic will be flying off the shelves in the next few weeks. According to Toyworld, the top 10 toys for Christmas include back-to-the-future Cabbage Patch Kids, Furby toys, LeapPad Ultras, and Robo Fish.
Construction and role-playing toys are perennial favourites, says Val Faulkner, marketing manager at Farmers. Second-guessing what toys your children will get real use out of is difficult but the more thought, the greater bang for your buck. For this article, I perused my children's bedrooms, looking for the ghosts of Christmas past.
The toys that have had the most love/use over the years turned out to be soft toys - especially the Puffles and a Pillow Pet. We also got our money's worth from board games, including Twister, Hungry Hippos and Yahtzee.
Methinks a better investment at Christmas than plastic toys is directing money to sports equipment such as balls, scooters, and balance bikes; art materials and other consumables; or active electronic games such as SingStar or Wii Sports.
Children still read books and series - the Mr Men books, Alex Rider, Rainbow Magic, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games have been read to death in our household.
Shop around for toys. Farmers, The Warehouse and many smaller toy retailers have great sales.
Don't forget Trade Me for lightly used second-hand toys, and bargain new ones from Trade Me stores such as toyslov3r, which has more than 24,700 feedbacks.
Finally, before making your toy-buying choices, give a thought for our landfills, which are full of broken and discarded toys.
• Trade Me shops: 40 per cent off ride-on, battery-powered Go Kart.
• Farmers: Leap Frog Leap Reader. Reg. $139, now $79 - save $60.
• Countdown: My Little Pony, 25 per cent off, $3 each.
• Farmers: Wooden three-level dollhouse. $79, down from $199.
• The Warehouse: Buy one, get one half price on any Lego, board game or trash pack.