Dads driving more buying decisions — including Christmas presents!

I was going to write a post for today about how we have decided that Michael is going to be in charge of buying the kids Christmas presents this year, and apparently we have stumbled into a nationwide trend of dad doing more of the shopping.

From The New York Times:

“Consumer surveys show that men are increasingly making the buying decisions for families, reflecting the growth in two-income households and those in which the women work and the men stay home. One-fifth of fathers with preschool-age children and working wives said they were the primary caretaker in 2010, according to the latest Census Bureau data. And 37.6 percent of working wives earned more than their husbands in 2011, up from 30.7 percent 10 years earlier. “

“ ‘Kids are going to grow up with dads that give them baths and drive them to soccer and are cutting up oranges for team snacks,’ said Liz Ross, president for North America of BPN, part of the IPG Mediabrands holding company, which recently completed a study on male consumers. ‘What will go away, albeit slowly, is the image or the perception of the befuddled dad.’ ”

“The change is having consequences beyond toys. Consumer products have traditionally been marketed to appeal to women, and stores have been designed for women’s sensibilities. Now, some brands and stores are catering directly to male decision-makers. Sears is reorganizing stores to put tools next to work wear, for instance, based on men’s preferences. Procter & Gamble is working on men’s grooming aisles at top retailers, a nod to the fact that women are no longer choosing shampoos or shaving creams for their husbands. With the selling point that it helps girls develop spatial reasoning, the Barbie set, a joint effort of Mattel and the toy company Mega Bloks, is also meant to pique fathers’ interest.”

The article talks about how toy makers and other businesses are creating products to appeal to these men who are shopping.

Michael was worried about me spending too much money at Christmas so I asked him if he would like to be in charge of buying the kids’ presents ensuring that I couldn’t overspend.  He said he would like that. (In years past he would pick out a special toy or two for each child but mostly I would do the bulk of the shopping.)

It was interesting to watch how he went about it though. He took the kids’ paper wish lists and found everything online on his iPad and then put it all into one electronic wish list, with prices and availability all right there.

I probably would have looked some online but I would have wandered around stores and looked in fliers too. He was definitely more efficient.

I am finding though that it is making me a little sad not shopping for the kids. I think he may have to let me buy some. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without shopping for the kids.

Is your husband (or are you if you are the husband) doing more shopping? How do your buying habits differ from the your wife?

Are you in charge of buying toys for Christmas? Do you choose different toys than your wife?

57 comments Add your comment

Saying it with love

December 10th, 2012
5:44 am

Theresa –

I mean this in the nicest way possible, and I’m pushed for time, so this may be a bit truncated; it is a parent’s job to help grow their children to be independent adults.

I can understand being sad if your kids were getting no/far fewer presents this year, for economic reasons b/c you just couldn’t afford them. But you stated that Michael completed the job more efficiently with the original purpose being to be sure not to overspend. These are both good things. If your husband is better at doing something and doesn’t mind doing it, let him do it. He is giving you the gift of time, which brings me to my next point.

You have GOT to find a hobby/avocation or something you enjoy doing other than the kids. They are going to grow up, and if you’ve done a good job of parenting your responsibilities will be greatly reduced. You are going to want to have an idea of who you are at that point in order to be able to enjoy life as Theresa rather than “Walsh’s mom.”

Sluggo

December 10th, 2012
6:39 am

Why must this particular chore be mutually exclusive to either parent? Your implication is that you’ve been exiled away from the holiday spirit because your husband took charge of purchasing Christmas gifts for the children. Why not shop with him at the mall? He maintains the budget, while but you still have some influence on the selected presents.

catlady

December 10th, 2012
6:52 am

I think it is very healthy that the most efficient person do the shopping, especially if the gift is expensive (for me, over $30). I am, however, troubled by the idea that Michael will “let” you shop for some of the gifts. Parents work as a team!

I echo what “saying it” above has said. I know your baby is only in kindergarten, but take it from me, yesterday my baby was in kindergarten and today she has a husband, a dog, and a master’s degree in astrophysics! Find some interest, some passion, besides your children. That they are critically important goes without saying, but so are YOU, as a person, and adult, a woman, and a life-partner to Michael.

becky

December 10th, 2012
7:09 am

Michael “LET” you. And we wonder what we did what we did in the 60’s and 70’s. Some women just don’t want to be able to be independent if they had to be. Sorry, but the day my husbands say I can or can’t do something for no justified reason – that’s the day I do just the opposite.
Michael did a great job – relax and go bake him some cookies – in your mind isn’t that your job. I see divorce coming if you don’t grow outside your children.

Jeff

December 10th, 2012
7:38 am

If we’re going to pick out the words “let me” from the entire article, why don’t we also pick out the phrase “ensuring that I couldn’t overspend” and extrapolate that by saying that Michael may have a reason for believing she couldn’t stick to a budget based on previous behavior.

After all, one sentence is just as valuable as another.

I read somewhere recently that women control 80% of household spending. Isn’t it time for a more proportional distribution? After all, “disproportionate” is bad when women are the ones on the wrong end of it.

Grace Slick

December 10th, 2012
7:52 am

Theresa,

Do you have the ability to go out on the town with Michael for one evening and not talk about the children? Can you hang out with other adults for an entire night and not talk about the children?

What happens is the wife or husband puts all their focus on the children primarily and their spouse becomes second… then the children grow up, move out and you find a husband and wife with nothing in common anymore. I mean this with all my heart but I think you need to re-direct your focus a bit as me thinks you focus too much on being a Mom and perhaps not enough on being a wife.

Chaos

December 10th, 2012
8:13 am

I will do the holiday toy shopping as long as you MAKE ME A SAMMACH!!!!!

Voice of Reason

December 10th, 2012
8:17 am

I tend to be the one that would overspend so I let my wife do it. She is more reserved when it comes to Christmas present buying. I would buy my kids everything.

It's been...

December 10th, 2012
8:27 am

… that way at our house for over 30 years – no problems here at Christmas as most everyone gets most of what they need, and want. And, if you can afford it, which it seems like Michael and Theresa can, there is no such thing as overspending at Christmas…

CC

December 10th, 2012
8:33 am

Wow People! The column is titled MOMania….Why do you think she talks about her kids all the time. Sounds like you folks need to choose a different column. Here’s a hint look at the title and see if it is something that interest you.

homeschooler

December 10th, 2012
8:43 am

I see no problem with anything Theresa said.

People get so bent out of shape when they hear the word “let”. For goodness sake I don’t think Theresa is a deprived, submissive wife.

Like Theresa, shopping is my hobby and my kids are my hobby. I probably spend too much but we’re not in debt so if I want to spend my day looking at Nooks and Kindles and going to Starbucks, THAT is what I’ll do. It’s what I do to relax. I would have a hard time turning over the Christmas shopping to my husband and he wouldn’t want to do it but he would probably be better at it and would probably spend less. I really don’t think he could handle it though. He hates shopping on-line, hates malls, hates Walmart. My kids would end up with a variety of things from the bike store.

Also, like Theresa, I had a life before my kids and I’ll have a life after my kids but right now I am consumed by my kids because they need me and I enjoy them. That’s what my mother did and that’s what her mother did and I come from a long line of happy, functional, and independent women who raised happy, functional and independent children.

Theresa. If I were you I’d set aside a small amount of money to buy little things for the kids. Stocking stuffers and other things just to get your Christmas shopping “fix”. Let Michael buy the big things that need to be researched or ordered on-line but you could still look around for those neat little things that make Christmas special.

motherjanegoose

December 10th, 2012
8:50 am

A friend put a poem about children on Facebook and the last part said, LIKE if your children ARE YOUR WORLD. This friend is a stay at home mom with one child in HS and one child in college. She has a masters degree and was in the work force for years before she had children. I would let a car run over me to save my children but they are not my world. So, I could not LIKE. They are a big piece of my world but so are lots of other things.

I have typically handled all the Christmas shopping, as I am the frugal person. Now that the kids are older, they put things on Amazon and we can just order them. My husband has done this and it is FINE with me. He LOVES to shop. I do not. He will search out something we need. I was at the MOG for 2 hours Saturday and that about did me in. I order most all the gifts online.

Shopping does NOT put me in the spirit of Christmas. The things that do are: riding around to see lights, singing carols at home and at church, listening to Christmas music, Christmas cards, Christmas parties, attending the Nutcracker and musical venues, sitting in the family room with the lights off and looking at the lit Christmas tree.

I do not put our tree up. That job goes to my daughter and husband. My mother was such a picky pants about the tree that it is not fun for me to put it up. I just found out that my sister feels the same way and does not enjoy putting hers up.

We have a real tree this year that we bought at Costco for under $30. I was doubtful that it would be pretty but it is. What a great buy. It is over 8 feet tall. My daughter cannot remember when we had a real tree last, so she asked if we could get one. I hope it lasts. It was cut 2 days before we bought it and we cut off the bottom to fit it into the stand. We are fervently watering it. Any tips?

Techmom

December 10th, 2012
9:13 am

As our son has gotten older, my husband has been more involved in the “big” stuff. But I still do the little things. Maybe that should be your ‘fix’ Theresa; you get a budget to buy the small things or stocking stuffers.

MJG – we normally do a real tree for our “family” tree (and I put up several fake ones too) but we decided not to do one this year since we typically spend $75 or so on a real tree. Might have to check around and see if any stores around here have better prices this year… and are getting new deliveries (I definitely don’t want one that’s been sitting at the store not being watered for two weeks). I will say that as long as you keep the tree watered, it should be fine. Some people say to add an aspirin to the tree water but I don’t think it makes a difference. I did just find this tidbit though:

“DON’T put aspirin, bleach, a penny or other urban legend tree preservers in the water—especially if you have pets; they should not drink such things. If you don’t have pets, aspirin and a little vinegar may help. But I’ve found 7-Up to be the best addition; it really helps preserve the tree—and it presents no danger to pooch and kitty types. Just add a cup of soda to the water in the reservoir every couple of days. Don’t overdo it; no more than one part Seven-Up to every three parts water. Cut flowers (yes, and trees) like the sugar and citric acid, and some folks feel that the natural lemon lime flavoring may act as a preservative as well. Of course, you can use generic lemon-lime soda or knock-offs like Sprite and Bubble-Up instead—just make sure its ‘regular’ and not diet soda; you’re not the only one who likes a little sugar around the holidays!”

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
9:20 am

Here’s a novel idea….why don’t you shop TOGETHER????? Meet Michael on his lunch hour, and do some quick shopping.

OR Hire a sitter. Make a date out of it. Dinner, shopping, cocktails.

Are you saying he did it all and you got nothing????? If so, go buy stocking stuffers. I sure as hell would NOT allow hubs to do all the shopping…..I enjoy Christmas shopping, hate the crowds, but enjoy Christmas shopping. It’s the only shopping I enjoy, other than grocery shopping. I’m not one to roam the malls……

Make a date out of it.

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
9:57 am

Here’s a novel idea……make a date night out of shopping for the kids, hire a sitter. Go get dinner TOGETHER, shop TOGETHER, then go get a cocktail TOGETHER!!!

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
9:58 am

Make a date night out of shopping for the kids TOGETHER. Get dinner, TOGETHER, shop TOGETHER, then go get a cocktail TOGETHER when it’s all over…..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 10th, 2012
10:01 am

you guys are focusing to much on me in this story — what about the interesting trend of dads doing more of the shopping — and toymakers, etc changing products and even aisles at stores to appeal to them.

Jeff

December 10th, 2012
10:11 am

TWG, I think it’s a good thing. At some point, the pendulum HAD to start to swing back in our direction. Try to see it as a good thing from your end as now some of the pressure to “do it all” is being alleviated. We’re supposed to help carry the burden of the household duties, right? lol

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
10:15 am

Here’s a novel idea….why not make a date night out of shopping for the kids. Hire a sitter, go get dinner, shop, then stop and have a cocktail TOGETHER……..

That’s what we do…..

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
10:15 am

OK I’ve tried posting 5 times……wth>?????

DB

December 10th, 2012
10:32 am

My husband usually wanders in about the second week in December and says, “What are we getting the kids this year?” I tell him, and he usually adds one or two items that he particularly has in mind. He’s the one that is great with stocking-stuffers, so he usually takes charge of stockings — I freeze when it comes to finding little stuff, but he keeps paper bags in his closet with names on them and adds little things to them during the fall as he sees them, he’s so good at that! He likes to shop if he’s given a definitive list — he hates to wander looking for inspiration.

We went for a drive last Saturday to explore around our temporary home this year, and discovered a “parade of lights” in a small town about an hour away. It was very well done, and all the more fun for being spur of the moment. After that, as I was browsing on my phone and discovered that the next small town over had “Clark Griswold’s” house — not the house from the movie, but a couple who make it their yearly project to keep adding lights — they’ve been doing it for almost 30 years, and it was truly astonishing how many lights a 1/4 acre lot with a split level house could support!!!

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
10:36 am

I’m going to try this one more time…

Why not make a date night out of shopping for the kids. Go get dinner, go shopping, then go have cocktails…that’s what we do…..

catlady

December 10th, 2012
10:43 am

It is great if the frugal one can do the shopping.

My former husband used to look for a gift for me on Christmas eve. When we divorced, he was “too busy” to get gifts and wanted me to put his name on some I had purchased for the kids. Uh…no. So they got used to dried up brownies purchased Christmas morning from the grocery. Whooppee!

Me

December 10th, 2012
10:51 am

We have basically always handled the shopping together; not just Christmas but also birthdays, etc. And, while she normally handled all of the bills, this is something that I can also take care of if she is out-of-town or tied up with work.

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
11:09 am

Do it together as a date night. Get dinner TOGETHER, shop TOGETHER and then go get a cocktail TOGETHER.

That’s how we roll…..

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
11:10 am

OK, I’m done. I have attempted to post NUMEROUS times…..to no avail. I’m done!!!

FCM

December 10th, 2012
11:50 am

My ex and I have already communicated about what we are getting. We had duplicated things in the past. Even the 5 years we were married we both shopped for the kids, often together. We made an afternoon of it with lunch.

The big issue I have is that they are hitting the teen years (THIS WEEK MY OLDEST BECOMES A TEEN OH MY!!) and so what they want is more than I want to spend.

As to the “trend” to market to men..why the heck do u think they make those soap pods? I think it is great to market to people not a gender.

@ Jeff…luv ya! You said it just right!

Misty

December 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

I think it is great if males want to shop- gives women more time for other activities. If a male doesn’t know how to shop for someone, then he can ask his wife ( or other female in his life) for suggestions. Kids make it easy- they give you a list- doesn’t mean you have to get them everything. It makes it so much easier to shop!

Techmom

December 10th, 2012
12:16 pm

Back to the actual topic – I do think it’s an interesting marketing shift. I wonder if Sears is going to start putting the toys next to the tools? They may have already; I couldn’t tell you the last time I went into a Sears store quite honestly.

Do you think ToysRUs will start selling other things in order to get more dads in the door?

I was pretty impressed with Target/Neimen Marcus’s latest marketing scheme since so many people don’t watch commercials anymore due to DVRs… they basically sponsored Revenge a couple of episodes ago and had a short story with the show’s actors who were all wearing items in their Christmas collection. Because it was a side story of the show, I didn’t want to fast forward through it. BUT apparently that collection has not sold as well as they had hoped it would.

FCM

December 10th, 2012
12:22 pm

@ MJG – sitting in the family room with the lights off and looking at the lit Christmas tree. Right there with you…I just love that. We spent much of the weekend watching Christmas Specials and just being together. I am getting over an illness (nothing dire but nothing fun) so we just hung out together and it was nice…They will be with their dad this year for Christmas we spent time talking about new years!

redandblack

December 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

I am a stay at home mom to a 5 and 7 year old, so I usually do the actual shopping…. and this year, most of it was done online (a great way to save money!!) Armed with their wish list items, I do the homework (price comparisons etc). This year, my husband and I discussed every single item purchased… all the way down to stocking stuffers.

I’m not sure if it’s because they are getting older and asking for more specific things or if it’s because I did most of my shopping online where you don’t have to wander around looking at random items. But we are, for the first time, staying within budget. And for an added bonus… we are cash only– no credit cards are being used. That’s a big deal for us!!

I don’t like to have 10-thousand things shipped to the house due to super nosey kids with lots of questions so I purchase online and have it shipped to the store so there’s no need to wander the isles looking at things we don’t need. My husband just picked up a bunch of stuff yesterday. He walked in with receipt/purchase order numbers in hand and came home and tucked everything away while the kids and I were at the grocery store. Also, if you didn’t know…if you ship to the store and pick it up there yourself…. shipping is FREE.

There was 1 year when we hired a sitter and my husband I went shopping together… hopping from store to store, getting lunch, and doing more shopping. It was a ton of fun, but it was a disaster. We WAY overspent. The kids had so much stuff, they got tired of opening presents on Christmas morning. So I don’t think he is necessarily a “better” shopper because when he is there in that isle, it’s just as difficult for him to determine a need vs a want when it comes to the kids. Well, I suppose they are all “wants” but figuring out the most wanted is the key.

Georgia

December 10th, 2012
1:00 pm

It is so much fun being a dad, that I always did the xmas buying. Xmas is family time. I remember every xmas morning I’d wake up early, dress up as a giant bunny and hide eggs all over the house….no, wait, that’s Halloween. Oh, but how about advent season? Every sermon at church is about how commercial xmas is, and the priests always sez, ” don’t make buying presents the be all and end all of xmas”. Of course nobody listens.

And of course you have to check the naughty list of gay toys to avoid. Any teletubbie is now gay. The scrubbing bubbles characters are bi. There’s new evidence that santas elves are all gay, and they only keep girl elves around to make more gay elves. You know what? I’ve got to stop watching the televangelists on tv.

Mayhem, here's a novel idea...

December 10th, 2012
1:13 pm

…even the “system” did not like your suggestion after the umpteenth time – LOL…

gritsiam

December 10th, 2012
1:16 pm

motherjanegoose……..for the tree, mix half water half regular sprite for the first week or so. then just add some sprite to the water every other day or so.

jarvis

December 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

I could never be a stay-at-home-dad. I like business too much.
I also hate being in the house for extended periods of time.

motherjanegoose

December 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

We are not about extravagant presents. We spend about $150.00 or so on each kid. They are in both college. Since our son just got new tires on his car ( $600.00) he understands that we cover the things they may need ( tires) and not new toys at Christmas. He does not get paid for his rotations now but next year he will be off of our payroll…hoorah! Our daughter had minor surgery this year and of course we also covered our portion of that.

We always invite them on family trips, or help them if they want to go somewhere with their friends. If they need something that seems reasonable, we will get it for them. Examples are gas to get to New Mexico when our son was working at the Indian Clinic and food for our daughter at her apartment. I also cashed in FF miles for our son to come home and attend a wedding, of a classmate at UGA. I took my daughter to the Nutcracker, at the FOX, yesterday. We also go up to the Smokey Mountains to look at the lights. It is kind of silly but we like it!

We have plenty of things to open at Christmas but we are not about BIG gifts. Many of you may remember that their Grandparents might send them $25, if they are lucky. We do not go into debt over Christmas. We enjoy the time as a family and do things together.

motherjanegoose

December 10th, 2012
1:20 pm

Thanks for the tree suggestions…I will try it!

non committal mind reader

December 10th, 2012
1:40 pm

A dad here: My wife and I definitely go for different things. My wife goes for the plastic toys (contemporary dolls, tv figures, etc). I go for the more time-honored stuff (a wagon, earrings, a rock tumbler, a radio… things they will find useful for years). We crossover other things… like craft type toys.

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
1:59 pm

Sorry for multiple posts….seems they were eaten and have now been reguritated…LOL

jmb

December 10th, 2012
2:10 pm

FCM – It just gets more expensive the older they get. I have 2 married children now and I do all the shopping for everyone. I usually get one big item for the house and then something personal for each of them. The rest goes for the grandkids. MJG – There is no way I could get away with $150 each. I unfortunately didn’t start things out like that so it’s hard to change it now.

motherjanegoose

December 10th, 2012
2:57 pm

@jmb…we have never purchased extravagant presents for our kids. I love Christmas as much as anyone but, to me, it is not simply about the presents. I do not go into debt for Christmas.
What is a BIG item for the house…like a piece of furniture? WOW!

missnadine

December 10th, 2012
3:02 pm

We are focusing on YOU because you are so out there. The other commenters are right –your whole world revolves around you kids, and I think you would be happiest if you did their laundry way into their 30s. Why is the fact that dads shop have to be some important topic? Believe it or not, there are tons of things men do better than women.

I also predict that you will really criticize your emasculated husband over his choices, and of course there will be tension. It is almost as if you try to create dramatic events. One day your husband will be sick of it.

missnadine

December 10th, 2012
3:04 pm

@techmom – I can see why the line at Target did not sell too well. it was pretty expensive for the quality. Did you take a look at it? I usually really like the designer promos they do but this one was a fail, IMO.

missnadine

December 10th, 2012
3:06 pm

mayhem – your comment has posted over and over again. LOL

Mayhem

December 10th, 2012
3:29 pm

I know!!!!! Very sorry…..I don’t know where the glitch was….LOL…

Jawga Boi

December 10th, 2012
3:38 pm

Is it possible that the guy who fell from the sky was a helper on Santa’s sleigh?

Producer

December 10th, 2012
3:38 pm

Yall are slamming Theresa about having other interests other than the kids? That’s what she writes about! And everybody knows men will be more efficient in staying within a budget anyway. They go in get what’s on their mind or on the list and leave. No fuss, no muss. No flittering absentmindedly around the mall unable to make a decision. Since he makes more of the money, historically, he should have a huge input into what gets bought in all aspects of the household.

jmb

December 10th, 2012
3:51 pm

MJG – I don’t spend much on my kids during the year like you do so I tend to go a bit overboard at Christmas. My daughter is in the army so she has been on her own for a couple years now and never asked me for help with anything and my son has been on his own for 12 years and doesn’t ask either. I also don’t give a lot for birthdays so I guess Christmas is the only time I splurge. Yes, it is sometimes furniture. Last year I got her a sofa and my ex (her dad) got her the loveseat so it’s always something she will use. Not sure about what to get this year but leaning towards a home theater system or something like that.

oneofeach4me

December 10th, 2012
4:17 pm

Well, in my opinion, the reason that this has come about is the shift in family roles. Many women work outside of the home, and so there are now more and more stay at home dad’s. I think it’s worth mentioning that whichever parent spends more time with the kids will have a better idea what each one would like instead of trying to buy off the child’s wish list.. that you swear was copied page for page out of the ToysRUs toy book!!

As for our household, my hubby would be like VOR, he would buy them everything they wrote down on that list even if it’s irrational. For example, my 11 year old wanted either an iPhone or iPad (1st year of middle school and it’s “well everyone has one”). He was considering it. I on the other hand had to remind him that EVERYtime she takes her phone with her somewhere she leaves it. She has lost 3 pair of glasses in a year and a half, and it only took her about 4 months to “misplace” the MP3 player we bought her last year. He has now put that it the “save for later” list.

I do most of the big shopping and then we go together to get the small things and stocking stuffers which is usually all an hour long lunch hour can suffice.

FCM

December 10th, 2012
4:25 pm

@ 1 of each…..I think you just described my daughter! “For example, my 11 year old wanted either an iPhone or iPad (1st year of middle school and it’s “well everyone has one”). He was considering it. I on the other hand had to remind him that EVERYtime she takes her phone with her somewhere she leaves it. She has lost 3 pair of glasses in a year and a half, and it only took her about 4 months to “misplace” the MP3 player we bought her last year.” She went through 10 pair of glasses in 2.5 years. Her MP3 player was found at the bottom of the washing machine! Her phone we know where it is but I refuse to get service b/c she lost 2 then refused to go with the rules (she thinks they are stupid) that govern the phone use (like no minecarft during homework time).