Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Billion Dollar Advent Calendar.

It was supposed to save us money in the long run.  This tiered, wooden grouping of minature stacked presents Advent Calendar that we found at Canadian Tire.  24 wee little gift boxes with adorable hinged doors and one larger gift box for Christmas morning.  It was PERFECT!

No more throwing the old cardboard chocolate receptacles in the recycling box, no more starting Rissa's day with a sugar high that would then plummet her into a crash as her glycemic index hit bottom.  David's Mom had found us a wall hanging version when Rissa was very little, with plush  pieces that you could then Velcro onto the scene - creating a beautiful Christmas setting by the 24th. Our three cats LOVE that Advent Calendar.  Over the years, they have absconded with a majority of the plush pieces.  Can't really blame them, they do resemble cat toys.  So we needed something new.  Something cat proof.  We would reuse this table top Advent calendar every year, fill it with treasures and create joy every single day in this December and the Decembers to come.

I think we were in a dissociative state when we bought it.  'Cause let's do the math:  $34.99 for the calendar itself, add to that HST - your grand total is $39.54.  Which, given that your average non-crap chocolate Advent calendar runs you about $10.99,  it will take us a little under 3.59 years just to get the calendar to pay for itself and that's not including the stuff we put in it.  That will take Rissa almost to her 16th Christmas.  That's okay though.  Heartfelt gifts in each of the wee boxes will make it so much more personal and we can tailor it specifically to fit Rissa.  And maybe when she's in university we can use the Advent Calendar as bait to get her to stay with us over the holidays.

Problem is, the wee little boxes into which you're supposed to stuff these heartfelt gifts are VERY wee.  The internal dimensions of the boxes are 1.5 " in height, but only about 1" in width due to the adorably hinged doors.  Unless you have something incredibly malleable, like say the Day 1 gift this year: a finger catapult rubber chicken,

it's hard to find things small enough to fit into the wee boxes.  We bought a whole lot of gifties only to find out that about half of them wouldn't fit into the wee boxes.  So then we had to go out again to find things that were small enough but not total crap, because that was kind of the point of this endeavour in the first place, NOT to have a crappy chocolate Advent Calendar.

We went out again, seeking malleable, or at least teenier gifts for the wee boxes.  You know why most of these Advent Calendar are stocked with chocolates?  Because you can get chocolates that are wee enough to fit into the wee boxes.  So what did we end up doing?  Buying small chocolates to fill some of the dud boxes.  We tried, we really tried to be frugal and heart-felt - which, if you're doing the math, would generally mean that you'd end up spending at least $25 a year to fill the sucker if you're going to the good Dollar Store - say the larger of Dollaramas.

It's totally different buying gifties for a 13 year old girl than a 6 year old girl.  The 6 year old version of Rissa would have been thrilled with cut up pages of stickers in each of the boxes.  I could have filled the entire calendar for $1 - maybe $2.  Exept that I really couldn't, because my OCD would come to the fore and I'd want to ensure that the sticker sheets were cut in straight lines or perfect circles or ovals or folded into some... origami... (Note to self: next year, do miniature origami - like the dude from Blade Runner.)  Yes, there were rows and rows of crappy barrettes and hair elastics in colours that Rissa would never touch.  Pouffy things and princess things - pretty much the antithesis of who Rissa is.  (Hence the afore-mentioned catapult rubber chicken.)  And none of those things belong in her Advent Calendar.

I'd love to have enough disposable wealth that I could go to the local artisan shop and purchase beautiful ornaments or charms or earrings or bracelets for my daughter that would fit beautifully within the calendar.  We don't have disposable wealth.   And you know what?  I am still missing one box.  Two really, because I haven't filled the 25th day - although, come to think of it, the 25th day can just be crammed with all the originally too-large presents for the wee gift boxes.  It can be a cornucopia of Christmas on the 25th!!  Rissa will open the door and things will come tumbing out at her!

Running total for the calendar: $39.54 + $25.99 (initial gift purchases) + $14.69 (Secondary purchases to fit in the boxes that the first gift didn't fit into) + $10.93 (Tertiary purchases of useful gifties in colours that Rissa would actually use and not just throw away or give to younger cousins.) 

This year's Advent Calendar cost us (drum roll puh-leeeeeze)  a whopping


Yeah Baby!  Can we budget for Advent or what?  Okay, NEW GOAL: Next Christmas try to spend less than $91.15.  Also, I have to fight against my urge to build a completely new Advent Calendar that would be big enough to put things into, 'cause that could quickly evolve into a yearly one-upping of the last Advent Calendar and I'm not ready to get a second mortgage on the house yet.

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