Beliefnet
I don't like to start my Christmas shopping early. But our mailbox is already overflowing with catalogs and a few of the presents I've seen would take a bit longer than usual to put together. La Petite Maison Custom Playhouse, for example.

The FAO Schwarz catalog offers La Petite Maison Custom Playhouse for a mere $30,000. The price goes up depending on size, design and selected features. What features could a playhouse have? That would be up to your child and his or her professional interior designer, who guides the design of your child's dream house.

"The discriminating craftsmanship and intricate architectural detailing is superior to what's found in most adult homes, with standard features like 8-ft. ceilings, recessed lighting, bay windows, and dry-walled interiors," reads the catalog. "When children are used to living well, they should play like this -- with options such as electricity, heating and air conditioning, mini-kitchen with running water, custom child-sized furnishings, a mini-media room, garage, and a grand staircase."

The playhouse features raise a few questions.

Is la petite mortgage included with the playhouse? And will la petite property taxes increase if you build one? Will your child have to get la petite job to pay for the playhouse's maintenance or is la petite trust fund included? Does La Petite Maison come with la petite domestic help that your kids can pay under la petite table?

My kids already leave the lights on and water running when they leave the bathroom. Why would I want to get them an entire house to leave on? I can't get my kids to keep a 10-foot by 12-foot bedroom picked up. It's not difficult to imagine what they'd so with an entire house of their own.

The company that constructs the playhouses also designs custom doghouses. It's unclear if the dog houses are air-conditioned or have mini-media rooms and garages.

Every year my wife and I purchase some high-tech Christmas gizmo we think the kids will love. It's always the toy played with least and first to be put into the garage sale pile. That would be a much larger problem if what you're selling at the garage sale is an actual garage--even if it is a playhouse garage. I can just hear the garage sale bargain hunters: "I'll give you two bucks for the mini-media room, but you have to throw in the entire CD collection and DVD player. And call me if nobody buys the grand staircase. I'll trade you an old exercise bike for it."

So, if you have an extra 30 grand sitting around in la petite Swiss bank account and plan to buy one of these playhouses, you might want to get your order in soon. It could take a few weeks for the general contractor to break ground and you'll want your kids to be able to move in on Christmas Day.

As for me, I'm getting our kids La Petite Refrigerator Box this year. I'll cut a few windows in it. There are no other standard features. That's what crayons are for.

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