My school has this program for students who are parents; they can sign up, and write down their kids' (or kid's) ages and what they want for Christmas. Faculty and staff sign up, and buy and wrap the stuff, and give it anonymously, putting a paper tag with the appropriate number on it (which is taken off so the kid doesn't feel like a number). The gifts are supposed to be no more than $20. That's important, of course, because if there are three kids in the family, and someone goes out and spends $100 on one, and the other kids get the $20 gifts, there will be very hurt feelings. For me, $20 isn't much to spend, but it's a lot and adds up quickly, so it's probably a reasonable amount.
Anyway, the paper tags came out. I have a 10 year old girl who's listed as wanting "Sculpey Clay" and a writing journal. So I looked up "Sculpey Clay" and apparently it's a name brand and not just a different way of saying "stuff to shape with" or something. I found a local craft store that has it, and off I went. (I scoped out some journals the other day in a bookstore, so I'd have an idea of prices to balance for the $20.)
At the craft store, there's the Sculpey Clay, and next to it, another polymer sculpting clay. The thing is, the other brand is WAY cheaper, so if I got that, the girl would get a bigger hunk (or multiple mid-sized hunks) to play with. The Sculpey clay is more expensive, almost twice as expensive.
And there's my conundrum. Get more of what's probably basically the exact same stuff, or get the name brand that someone (a parent, I suspect) has written down?
If I were buying the clay for myself, I'd get a big hunk of the other brand. But maybe that's because I don't know the difference.
But I also remember being a kid and really, really wanting the name brand of something, and then being really disappointed when I got the non-name brand that was probably just as good but never seemed as good in my little kid eyes. You know? I also remember times when I got the name brand and was thrilled. So there's that.
And maybe it's the parents who want the special name brand stuff for their kid?
So, anyway, I bought a multi-pack with some hunks of bright colored Sculpey clay. And then I went to the bookstore and bought a writing journal that felt well-bound, was aesthetically pleasing with a good number of pages. I may be a few cents over the $20, but not too much.
Should I have bought the bigger hunks, or was it right to buy the special brand?