11/15

2012

12

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gifts

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?

11 comments
maia simon
maia simon

Speaking as the grandparent, I endorse the giving guidance. Today is one grandchild's 4th birthday. Her room is being reworked from nursery to kid's room, so we sent a chair her mother picked out. And pink ski gloves. I also love the experiences focus. We take our 11 year old grandson camping every year. It's not counted asa a Christmas gift, but it is a wonderful time. And every year we do Big Apple Circus at Christmas, and the kids do know that is a gift from us. I would absolutely step up to paying for lessons! What a great idea!

Jayne
Jayne

I am always accused if being a Scrooge but I don't want our kids growing up thinking that Christmas is all about toys. Besides that we font have a lot of room and our 20 month okd daughter is more into boxes thsn any $40 toy. I love the idea of giving "experiences" our daughter just started swim lessons so someone can give the gift of another session. I'd love for all of our relatives to give our 4 month old son diapers, probably not going to happen though, we can return unnecessary toys to toys r u for store credit and get diapers though.

RealMomofNJ
RealMomofNJ

I have totally returned toys for credits towards diapers...hehe. We have plenty of toys, but there is no such thing as too many diapers!

melissa
melissa

I totally agree - we don't buy much for our own kids to compensate for the gifts they get from everyone else, but that's no fun for us. In the past I have totally re-gifted or returned to the store for a merchandise credit, but that doesn't solve the problem of my kids getting 30+ presents that day and the heavy emphasis of receiving so much STUFF. I just e-mailed my husband about this and said we need to come up with a plan NOW, before people start buying. I said how about a 1 present rule, but he said his parents wouldn't go for it considering how overboard they went last year...Ok, so we need to come up with the right #. But more importantly, we need to communicate our desires now, and stick with it come the holidays - which may mean putting everything extra in a large bag we bring directly to Goodwill, and letting our family know we did this. May seem harsh, but if they can't follow our rules for our kids, then it seems like they are the ones with the problem, not me. Don't mess with me :) I agree, either you piss a few people off now, or you are looking at your greedy spoiled teenagers wishing you'd done things differently.

RealMomofNJ
RealMomofNJ

It really does affect the holiday spirit! I want the holidays to be about family, togetherness, generosity, and love. Sure, presents are a part of that. Let me repeat: a PART of that. It shouldn't be the whole shebang. It's tough though b/c people, especially grandparents, love to spoil kids that aren't their own. So it gets really hard to control without seeming like a Scrooge. But, I ask myself what's more important: my kids growing up spoiled and self-entitled at the holidays b/c I didn't put my foot down early, or people who are annoyed for a day b/c I asked them to control themselves with the spending? Yeah. And one of the worst parts is that I feel like I need to compensate by not really getting my kids much. So they'll get tons from everyone else but hardly anything from me and Willy, and dammit, we want a chance to spoil our own kids a little! I don't want to go crazy, but I don't want to feel limited b/c I know there is going to be an avalanche of gifts from everyone else.

Nora
Nora

Oh boy do we know that feeling, we have 5 grandparents as well, as my sister in law's parents and grandparents that come (happy to have them but they all bring gifts as well). And last year, the gift opening was bit greedy, very gimme gimme gimme, and none of the parents were thrilled. But I had the issue of having both sides of my family over, 4 children, ranging from 2-6, they all get a ton of gifts, and without spending the ENTIRE day opening gifts, I just don't know how to calm down the process without making a child feel short changed, or an adult awkward, or it becoming so slow and painful that we all hang ourselves. Part of the process is the fun tearing through gifts, but how do you teach the children appreciation....AND how do you just cut down to fewer gifts. Also, as you know, as the hostess, I want to be part of opening, not just watching fromt he kitchen. We are overwhelmed, and I am losing the holiday spirit!!! LOL!

RealMomofNJ
RealMomofNJ

It is totally a delicate balance. You don't want kids to feel spoiled, but you don't want them to feel short-changed, either. It certainly takes a bit of fun out of the holidays.

Ask A Great Dad
Ask A Great Dad

We had the same issue last year, and these tips are very helpful. We already told the grandparents to limit the toys to one per child. Every time we get something new, we have to donate an old toy. We just don't have the room.

melissa
melissa

OMG - I was ready to explode last yr bc of this. RealMom - I absolutely hate this time of year for this reason. It's the 1-time people get so greedy and whatever their greedy hearts want, they get. And I don't want my kids to be like that. What about thinking of others? Last yr Aiden was 2 and got 30+ presents. After opening up 5 presents, he walked out of the room bored. Already the grandparents have sent him store flyers asking him to pick out what he wants - I hate that! So I'm trying to counter that with talking to him about kids who have no toys and donating his old toys, and maybe buying some new ones that he picks out and we donate. I'm thinking about asking the grandparents to limit the present to one, but I know how that conversation will go (not well). And the part I can't manage is Aiden's cousins getting 30+ presents in front of him. So it's tough. If we come home with too many presents (last yr our trunk was packed), I will totally donate, return, or store away. Oh, And now I have a daughter this year who will be spoiled rotten. I hate this time of year :(

RealMomofNJ
RealMomofNJ

I have the same issue. I can tell the grandparents to control themselves but A) that'll go over like a ton of bricks and B) they'll probably ignore me anyway. They aren't ill-intentioned, but the results are still the same. Too many presents. I'm thinking that focusing on experiences instead of material possessions is the way to go with them, b/c I won't be able to talk them out of spoiling the kids. I'm hoping they'll be happy to maybe buy a season ticket to the local zoo and take the kids a bunch next summer or they'll buy P a new ballet leotard and slippers for her springtime ballet class, instead of clean out the toy store. Do you think Aiden's grandparents would go for that kind of thing?

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  1. [...] you recall, I posted in November about trying to rein in the extreme amount of Christmas gifts my kids get. P’s birthday is in July, so we previously had a ton of time between the Christmas reining [...]