Kate Livingstone: The Christmas 2019 countdown has begun ...

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but do you realise that there are less than 17 weeks until Christmas?

There I’ve mentioned the festive season and it’s still August!

Selfridges may already have their Christmas shop up and running in London but I’m sure most of us are desperately trying to forget about the impending festive season – or still paying off last year’s excesses.

All the hype seems to start earlier every year – my mum recalls that when she was a youngster that the shops would only dress their windows with Christmas decorations the week before December 25. Now they’ve hardly removed the sunglasses and swimwear from display before hitting us with the ‘must buy’ gifts for the all the family ... and the teacher ... and the binman ... and the dog. Every year the list for present buying seems to grow.

However, this week I spotted a top ten list of what toys are going to be the most requested gift for Christmas 2019. I’m usually a bit suspicious of these things as they cynic in me believes it’s just a way of making children think that they really want something because some retailer told them so.

But I suppose all the TV advertising is just as bad – I’ve lost count of the number of times Jack and Sophie have changed their minds about what gifts they would like.

We’ve usually managed to ‘persuade’ them to go back to the original choices that Santa has already purchased! But sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle.

This top ten list caught my attention, however, because it contained so many traditional toys – a welcome change from all the electronic gizmos and gadgets children seem to be encouraged to request.

Top of the ‘must have’ was a toy kitchen with a wooden train set in second place.

Also on the list was LEGO and my favourite ever gift, a doll’s house!

I can still clearly remember mine which years after I received it I discovered my dear old dad had spent months painstakingly making for me in the garage on cold, damp nights.

It was covered in red brick wall paper and even had little pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard. For every birthday and Christmas after that I used to get more furniture to put in it.

Well that could be Sophie’s Christmas gift sorted for 2019 – I’m sure that I’ll have hours of fun playing with it!