10 Tips for Managing Too Many Gifts
According to Pinterest and stores nationwide, it has been the holiday season for a month already. Retailers have done a great job of getting me thinking about the holidays extremely prematurely.
At 3.5, P is finally old enough to really, really, really get this whole Christmas thing. Last year she understood that Santa came and brought presents, and she understood we gave presents and received them, and it was fun. But this year, she REALLY gets it. What I’m concerned with now, above all else, is that she’ll also [mistakenly] get that she should receive eleventy-billion gifts.
P and N have 5 grandparents. They have 5 great-grandparents. They have 2 aunts, 3 uncles, and countless honorary aunts and uncles and friends and teachers and people who also love and buy gifts for them. Oh yeah, and they have parents. This amounts to what I feel is an excessive amount of gifts. So as we all gear up for the frenzy of Black Friday and the coming holiday season, let’s consider ways to reduce the overabundance of unnecessary gifts to avoid having spoiled kids, and ways we can give back a little. Please share your ideas and add on to this list, in the comments section:
First, let’s try to avoid getting too much to begin with:
1. Set a gift limit. Let each person buy only 1 gift for each child, or better yet, have them buy combined gifts for the kids to share (I know, the dreaded “combined” gift. Whatever.)
2. Set a limit of gift-givers. Do kids really need presents from EVERYONE they know, or just from their family members and closest friends?
3. Ask people to contribute to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts. Whether it’s a monetary donation or a donation of goods, the point is the same: give unto others who need it, in lieu of to those who don’t.
4.Have multiple people contribute to one gift. Let’s say your kid wants something outside of an individual’s budget. Ask all of their grandparents to buy it for them together, or pass on the suggestion to their 6 aunts and 7 uncles.
5. Ask for experiences instead of gifts. Perhaps the grandparents would be happy to pay for a semester of ballet or 2 months of piano lessons instead of more stuffed animals or singing-beeping-flashing toys? I bet they would.
Now let’s say you don’t want to be a Scrooge and kill everyone’s generous holiday spirit by telling them your kids don’t need their thoughtful gifts. You’ve accepted that your house is going to look like a Toys R’ Us truck crashed into it. How do you handle the extreme number of gifts so that your kids aren’t spoiled and so overwhelmed that the gifts basically become meaningless?
Second, if we can’t avoid it, let’s manage the overabundance:
1. Give people a Christmas list. Don’t let people go nuts, buying random things that your kid may or may not need, or even like. Tell them your kid’s favorite TV show or characters, or latest hobby or obsession. Give them guidance so you know that the stuff they get will be stuff they use and appreciate.
2. Ask for things the kids truly need. Like diapers for babies, or clothes for next summer, or books, or new LeapFrog games, or even sports equipment for their upcoming season. Hell, ask them to stuff stockings with things like your kid’s favorite snacks and shampoo! This ties in with #1 above: give some guidance.
3. Rotate toys in and out of circulation. Your kid may have received 8000 toys, but that doesn’t mean they need to be available all at once. My parents would let my brother and I have a few of our gifts immediately, and put the rest in the basement to break out throughout the year when we got bored with the toys we had. When new toys came upstairs, the toys we were bored with went downstairs. When the new toys got old, the old toys became new again, so they’d rotate them again. Catch my drift?
4. Before the holidays, have your child gather old toys to donate. I have a friend who does this every year with her kid. They gather up all of the toys her daughter had outgrown or doesn’t play with and they donate them. Not only did this teach her daughter charity from a young age, but it made room in the house for the incoming flood of new toys. I love this idea.
5. Donate the new items that aren’t right for your child and can’t be returned. No use collecting guns or sexy Barbie dolls or clothes that are too small/ugly in your attic. Pass them on.
How do you manage the holiday surplus? What are you teaching your kids about it?