Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Holiday Shopping at the Small Mall

My very first job was as an elf at the Small Mall in Antioch Center, a mall in Kansas City, Missouri. The mall was north of the river and was only a few blocks from my house. I don't even know if I could drive that first year. I was even surprised to have gotten the job, but perhaps it helped that several of my friends had already secured a spot and put in a good word.

The Small Mall was a special shopping area built in the middle of the mall's main aisle, made to look like Santa's workshop. Children were allowed to go shopping in the Small Mall, without their parents, to buy small gifts for family members. They entered on one end with a money and a list (made with the help of mom and dad) of who they needed to shop for. As an elf, it was my job to help them determine what they could afford and ensure they got something for everyone on their list. The gifts were all inexpensive, usually plastic animals, picture frames, etc. But the children loved being "grown-up" and doing shopping by themselves. I distinctly remember trying to convince one young shopper that all her recipients would not enjoy small plastic rats, to no avail. After they made their purchases, each one was wrapped in brown lunch bags and they met their parents on the other side.

At the time, I don't think I realized how cool the concept was. Now that I'm a parent I really wish something like my Small Mall still existed. What a great way to teach a child about giving...even if it is just a rat.


Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

When I was teaching our school did this. It was set up in our school gym. Tables full of little gifts [donated by the parent school assoc.]. Children came with an envelope. Family names on the outside & a few dollars on the inside. They could select gifts. Back in the classroom I helped them to wrap the gifts.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

We never did this at our school, but my son's school does, just like how you mentioned. I think it's a great opportunity to teach children the joy of giving.