This year’s must-have toy... a box

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Instead of buying expensive gifts this Christmas, parents should just hand over a cardboard box, new research suggests.

Almost half (46 per cent) of parents say their child enjoys playing with boxes instead of toys and games, according to a Ribena Plus Play report.

And almost twice as many parents said their youngster preferred playing with boxes than gadgets.

Despite many youngsters being happy to play with the packaging than the present, the report says many parents feel pressured into buying expensive gifts by annual Christmas must-have toy lists.

A fifth of the parents questioned (19 per cent) said they spent more than £200 on toys and games for their child last Christmas.

One in seven parents said their child spent longer playing with the gift wrapping than the toy itself.

Just over two in five (42 per cent) said the way their child plays is cheap and affordable, with around half saying there are activities that they or their child would like to take part in but cannot afford.

Sally Goddard Blythe, a consultant in neuro-developmental education, said: “To an adult it may be a cardboard box, but to a child it’s the world in miniature. It can be a spaceship, a sailing ship, a fast car or a den to hide in – or all of those things in under ten minutes.”

Parents do not need to spend money on expensive toys and gadgets, she said.