She ordered after seeing it advertised on the internet, imagining how much the four-year-old would love the calendar based on the Tim Burton children’s film, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
But it was not the surprise she was expecting – when a set of mass murderers from adult horror films dropped through the letter box following an error!
Vanessa is a Sheffield university professor who is well known as the founder and research director of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield, and runs the city’s Festival of the Mind and Ideas Bazaar events.
She said she ordered the Nightmare Before Christmas Advent Calendar for her niece who loves the film.
Vanessa said: “This is what I got instead - serial killers, mass murderers, figures from pretty much every adult horror fest from the last 40 years!"
She said her niece was quite cross when she was told she could not keep the figurines – as she had taken a liking to a character from the 80s horror The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who she innocently described as her ‘tree cutter’.
"She loves Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. She's not a Disney sort of girl – her other favourite is The Grinch! I expected there were going to be fun figures like Jack Skellington,” said Vanessa.
"I sent off for it from a small Amazon ad. But when it arrived it had things like Hannibal Lecter and Jason from Halloween. There were some things which I couldn’t work out, such as what appeared to be pieces of sushi and some scary pumpkins with teeth
"I’m sure some people would love it, but it was not the sort of thing for a four-year-old.
"Luckily, her mum, my niece, saw the funny side. She thought it was hilarious.”
After Vanessa contacted PayPal about the problem, she was given a refund for the item
She has now managed to get a different Nightmare Before Christmas calendar, which came complete with reading and colouring activities for her niece to do as part of a set.