The holidays are suddenly upon us, and Christmas music is in the air. Toy commercials are hitting hard and kids’ wish lists are growing longer each day. This is the time of year when something as fun and simple as shopping for toys can become overwhelming and craze inducing. Here are some tips to help you keep your sanity and ensure you’ve got that must-have toy that your child has been begging for.

Girls Toys Skye
Any toy featuring Skye, from Paw Patrol, is very hard to find this holiday season.

1. Don’t wait. If you know your child HAS to have a certain toy, seek it out early. If you haven’t gotten around to shopping for the item that will make or break your child’s holiday, don’t put it off any longer. You may not realize just how many kids have to have Skye from Paw Patrol until you hit the stores and can’t find her anywhere.

2. Let’s suppose you have indeed waited too long and that must-have item is scarce. Call your local retailers and ask if they will be getting a shipment any time soon, and whether you can pay in advance to pre-order. At the very least, they may be able to let you know when the shipment is due from the manufacturer.

3. Retailers say they aren’t sure, can’t take your order, laugh you right off the phone? Try contacting the manufacturer directly. There’s a chance you can order directly from them, or they may be able to give you a hint as to where you can purchase. Sometimes stock is sold out in one region of the country but not an issue in another.

4. Check in with local groups on Facebook or other social media vehicles. You can’t be everywhere at once, but perhaps another parent spotted just the item you’ve been seeking while out shopping that morning. Ask others to keep an eye out for it and let you know if they see it. You never know where it might turn up. A friend may be willing to pick it up for you and have you reimburse them if they are aware you’ve been searching for it.

5. Before you shell out three to four times the MSRP on eBay or Amazon, be sure you’ve done your due diligence. If the item is really looking impossible to come by, do what you have to do to save the holidays. BUT, if your child can maybe, possibly wait until January for this toy, there’s an excellent chance it will be back in stock after the holidays have passed.

Everyone wants to give their child a magical holiday season, and sometimes it seems that getting that one particular toy will make or break the holiday cheer. Keep in mind that for most kids, one specific toy is not the be all and end all, and if you are really desperate, have Santa write a creative note saying that it may take a little extra time to provide something so special, but it is indeed on its way.

About the author

Jackie Breyer

Jackie Breyer

Jackie Breyer is the vice president of Adventure Media & Events, and group publisher of The Toy Book, The Toy Insider, and The Pop Insider. She has been reporting on retail and toy industry trends for more than 20 years. Jackie has been featured in the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, The History Channel’s The Toys That Built America, and Nat Geo’s The ’80s Top 10: Toys, as well as The TODAY show, CNBC's Power Lunch, NBC News, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo Finance, Cheddar, and more. Jackie is the 2012 recipient of the Wonder Woman in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Award in the field of Journalism & Social Media. A true ’80s kid, Jackie is a fan of Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Super Mario, Care Bears, My Little Pony, and Archie Comics. Her first Cabbage Patch Kid was named Cecily Aretha. She still has her charm necklace, and her Garbage Pail Kid card collection is bigger than yours. Jackie has successfully trained her kids Lena and Henry to be Mario Kart experts. You can follow her on social media @jackiebreyer and connect with her on LinkedIn.