A Story of Christmas Panic!

I procrastinate.  Even when there’s no need to procrastinate.

And sometimes usually it gets me into trouble.

I decided about a week ago what my daughter’s big Christmas gift was going to be this year.  This is our second year to have a real saved-all-year Christmas budget, and honestly . . . I thoroughly enjoy choosing one large gift for each kid.

This wasn’t a terribly difficult decision.  I’m a sucker for pretend play stuff, and dollhouses have always been something of an obsession for me.

When we walked past the toy aisle in Walmart, she stopped to gaze longingly at the display of the Disney Princess  Ultimate Dream Castle by Mattel.


Then, when she was sick last week and watching a large amount of TV, I noticed that the only commercials she didn’t speed through were the ones for that same castle.

So I decided that I was going to get it for her . . . on Monday.  I was rather proud of myself for having a plan.  For NOT waiting until after my current stressful commitments (directing a big Christmas show) the way I usually do. Because sometimes when I put things off like that . . . I end up missing out.

Then Saturday night, on a trip to Walmart to get a birthday present for my mother, I happened to go by the toy department.  As I glanced down the center aisle where my daughter had stared at the castle and dreamed . . . . I saw that it wasn’t there anymore.

Instead, there was a huge display of batteries.  I decided not to panic (yet) and calmly glanced down the aisles.

I turned when I saw pink.  Heading down the girl’s toy aisle, I was relieved to see the Cinderella display.

But as I scanned it, there was no Dream Castle!

Yes, another version of a Cinderella castle that would do in a pinch, but I was so determined to act on my (NOT last minute) idea!

Now, I was beginning to panic.  I went through the toy section, skipping the boy aisle, and saw the Little People Princess Palace.

Totally adorable . . . but not right at all for my six-year-old. That was pretty much the last aisle of the section, so my heart was officially sinking at this point.

I mean, really.  For once, I didn’t wait until the last minute, and it was already sold out?  On November 10th??

I turned one last corner and found the shelf where the big toys were, and there it was.  One last castle.


But I didn’t have the money right then.  We have that Christmas savings account, so the money did exist, but I hadn’t taken it out yet.

I had never used layaway before, but I’d read about it and it seemed like a good solution.  You can hold an item in layaway (guaranteeing it’s yours) without having to pay for the whole thing right then.  I also liked the idea of NOT having to get it home and hidden in my closet right away.

I ran to grab a shopping cart, since I’d entered the store with no intention of buying such a big item.  I’m sure the desperate look in my eyes scared a few people as they scooted out of my way.

Thankfully, no other somewhat-crazy mother had grabbed the last castle in that amount of time, so I was able to get it into my cart.  I was a little disappointed that the box was slightly damaged, but it looked like the contents were fine.

I just wanted the assurance that I wasn’t going to have to run all over town looking for another castle!

On my way to the layaway desk in the back of the store (near the photos and bathrooms), I passed the perfect gift for my mother.

Oh yes.  Yes, I did.

I bought my mother a Snuggie . . .

Which was good, because I’ve been known to get excited about my Sidetrack Task and not get what I actually needed when I came to the store!

Layaway was incredibly easy.  There’s a $5 fee that’s refunded when you make your last payment and take the item home.  (If you cancel the layaway, you do lose that $5.) I put the minimum down, which was $20.08.  It went very quickly, and the WalMart employee gave me tons of information and answered all of my Layaway Newbie questions.  I just have to finish paying for it and get it out of Layaway by December 14th.  They’re even going to remind me via text message. 

As a chronic forgetter, I’m glad for that.

Whew.  I’m so glad that’s done.  One huge thing checked off my Christmas to do list, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

Go me!

My quick trip to WalMart took longer than I expected and it was dark by the time I left.  But I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Hubby about my narrow gift escape.

And that night at bedtime, I did some stealthy Mom Psychology Stuff to be sure that this was, in fact, what my daughter was going to ask for for Christmas.  It wasn’t hard, and has been made ever-so-much easier by letting her play on the (free) Disney Princess Augmented Reality App on my iPhone.  We’ve all had fun with that!

The app lets you create princess outfits, carriages and dance at the ball.   It says you can unlock extra accessories by finding things at Walmart, but my daughter played with it for a while and eventually everything unlocked.

(It’s okay to wear a tiara and jewels, but no makeup . . . right?)


I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™and Disney Consumer Products, Inc #CBias #SocialFabric



  1. 1

    I live in Australia and layby ( as we call it) has been around for my whole life and I still use it so as not to get caught up in that dreaded credit card trap! We also often have toy sales around June/July and get to layby our toys til late November or early December ready for Christmas. Even better this year I’ve discovered the joys of creating an online layby at Target…..I shopped online, laybying my toys in June and have been paying off small amounts via PayPal every couple of weeks. The toys can be delivered to my house for a fee or I can pick them up from a store near home. So easy and I didn’t have to race in there trying to beat the crowds without the kids and the presents get stored away from the house til I’m ready to wrap them! I adore layby!!

  2. 3

    AWESOME!!! I’m glad you got the castle! This year especially I’ve noticed that if you see something, you can’t wait, you must get it right away. The stores simply aren’t restocking the inventory in a consistent way. I’ve never done layaway before but it sounds easy and what a brilliant way to store the presents before christmas. I have no idea where I’m going to put our stuff. Surely someone will wonder what is under the old couch slipcover in the basement.

    • 4

      Exactly! That is one of the huge benefits! Not having to store it for as long. I’ll still have to figure out something for after the 14th, but it was so nice to not have to sneak it in last Saturday or forget that it was in the car and have her accidentally see it!

  3. 5
    safepethaven says:

    I’m 61 and although my family was hesitant to get/use credit beyond a medical emergency or a planned-for mortgage of a modest home, I learned about layaway at about age 9. We lived in a very small town near Chicago; I had wanted a “set” of luggage for my very own, not borrowing any of my parents’ set to tote ballet slippers to class weekly, or practice packing for summer camp, weeks in advance. So a local department store had a small set of lightweight child-manageable luggage, available by-the-piece. My parents wanted to make sure this was not a short-term whim, and also teach me the value of money mgmt, which I already had even at that young age, but using baby steps & age appropriate lessons. My mom set up a layaway account that I was responsible for paying off, often at 25 cents per payment, via chores/allowance/birthday gift $ from long distance g’parent, the only 1 who gave any tangible gifts besides Love. Anyway, I paid off the 3 pieces of plastic luggage including a round hatbox (for the ballet items), a train case, and a small rectangular case. The two items were given away to a charity once I was in college; I still have the round plastic hatbox – full of nostalgic dance shoes/slippers, and some very important fiscal lessons. And although I’ve had numerous catastrophic medical debt over many decades, I’ve never NOT paid my debts and have never once abused the credit I’ve been extended since age 21, in my name. I guess I have a hard time being terribly compassionate with so many consumers who are in mega-debt (and then default, leaving the rest of us to share in the burden of it being passed on) for reasons of just shopping too much for things they haven’t realized are wants, not needs; or demanding to live beyond the lifestyle they truly can afford — not only in good times but in lean times. Sermon over ;-))

  4. 8

    I love that you used your Jedi Mom Mind Tricks to make sure your daughter stays interested in the Castle! So clever 🙂

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