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A Friendly Holiday Suggestion From a Mom with Too Much Stuff

Simple Holidays

It’s Halloween, which means the holiday season is upon us!

I’m going to take this opportunity to say something that may anger some of you – particularly those of you who may or may not be grandparents or extended family to precious little children that you are looking forward to showering with many, many wrapped and bow-topped items over the coming weeks. I say this not to hurt your feelings, but to let you know something that a lot of us mamas (although certainly not all) are feeling this time of year.

You ready?

Put down whatever it is you are about to buy our children.

Put. It. Down.

Did you do it? Did you put it down?

Now. Ask yourself this very important question: “Am I buying this because it is useful and long-lasting? Or am I buying this because it makes me feel good and will make this child excited for a few minutes?”

Because if the answer is that you are buying that gift because it makes YOU feel good, we don’t want it.

I have four children, y’all. All boys. By the time you get down the line to the fourth boy, you have ALL OF THE THINGS. All of them. Honestly, there is not one toy, book, or other non-consumable item you could buy my fourth boy that we don’t already have. The only exception is blue jeans and tennis shoes because those actually do wear out (so if you want to buy my youngest little snowflake something for Christmas, make it jeans or shoes – sizes 18mos and 5T. Thank you.).

Example. Four sets of toy keys. And this was just what I found without much effort in the toy bucket in the living room.

Example: Four sets of toy keys. And this was just what I found without much effort in the toy bucket in the living room.

We have become a culture obsessed with stuff. Our homes are overrun with stuff…shoot, even our cars are filled with stuff! One estimate is that the average American home has over 300,000 items. Our homes have tripled in size over the last 50 years, yet our families are smaller. We are buying bigger and bigger houses for our THINGS rather than our PEOPLE. Even the poorest among us are drowning in stuff because when those who are the wealthier among us get tired of their stuff (or need room for more stuff), they pass it along to the local thrift store.

Every year since I’ve had children I’ve looked forward to the holiday season less and less. Our calendars are bursting at the seams and hanging over my head is the knowledge that on top of all the things I am constantly moving, picking up, washing, cleaning, sorting, and tripping over, we are about to get even MORE. We will go to celebration after celebration where everyone feels like they need to give my kids something. More often than not, it is something that they love for a day or two – a week at most – and then it is tossed aside for me to clean, pick up, wash, or find a new home for (or nag my kids about doing the above). Christmas isn’t fun anymore. It’s work. It’s stress. It’s mess and clutter and chaos.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “This sounds like a personal problem and she just needs to relax/make her kids pick up after themselves/be thankful that people want to buy them things/etc.”

I have relaxed significantly over the years (ask my husband). I do make my kids pick up after themselves. I am thankful that people love my kids and want to buy them gifts.

But…

We have too much. We have so much that my kids stand in a room filled with toys and can’t figure out what to play with. Heck, I stand in their rooms filled with stuff and can’t figure out what they should play with. There are too many choices! 

So, my dear friends, allow me to suggest some ways to share the holiday spirit without buying stuff:

For kids:

  • Memberships to a zoo, museum, aquarium, or other local spot. Chattanooga has several locations that offer discounted family passes, including the Children’s Discovery Museum, Chattanooga Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, and Rock City. Especially for younger kids, who may not understand why they’re “just” getting tickets, grab a couple of items that show the fun things they’ll get to see when they go. For example, a stuffed monkey to take to the zoo, a book about sharks to get ready for the aquarium, or a science journal and pen for the children’s museum.
A great gift from last year (a membership to the aquarium) led to this fun day with the whole family!

A great gift from last year (a membership to the aquarium) led to this fun day with the whole family!

  • Give a day, a month, or a year at High Point Climbing Gym
  • Pay for classes! Whether the recipient is a fan of dance, martial arts, computers, Legos, or cooking, there are classes available. My guess is that the mom of a bunch of kids would love to be able to take her kids to classes like these, but can’t afford it (just a hunch). 
  • A monthly subscription, such as Kiwi Crate. My mom bought my older boys subscriptions to Tinker Crate (for my oldest) and Kiwi Crate (for my #2) and they LOVED them. Although we’ve not had an active subscription since last spring, they frequently ask when we can get crates again. Whether the kiddo in your life likes art, crafts, building, or pretend play these boxes are fantastic for ages 3-14. This is definitely a gift that will make kids AND parents happy!
  • Movie gift cards. We’re a family of six. SIX. Remember your last trip to the movies? Remember how expensive it was? Now multiply that by six. Yeah. We don’t go to the movies often. A great gift for a kid are the funds to go to a movie and the right to pick the flick! Give a gift certificate to a theater, some Dollar Store boxes of candy, a couple of sodas (for the special occasion only!) and instructions that only the recipient gets to pick the movie. 

For the grownups:

  • For the adults in your life, why not pay for a visit with a personal trainer? If you’re in the Chattanooga Area, call the Hamilton YMCA and request me! I’m a personal trainer who would be happy to be given as a Christmas gift. From making you feel more comfortable with gym equipment, to providing a workout and/or nutrition plan, to just being your workout buddy for a while, a personal trainer is an awesome and affordable option ($40 for an hour, or gather your friends for a small group session at a discounted rate).
  • For your girlfriends, plan a paint night or attend a workshop. Last year, my friends and I had a soap-making party at For the Love of Suds in Kingsport, TN rather than exchanging gifts. We brought wine and food and spent the night learning to make bath goodies that we then got to take home! We had a great time, learned something new, and went home with something we would use. There are studios in Chattanooga that offer paint nights and private parties, and Wine Down in Ooltewah does a monthly wine and paint.
A night out with friends is a great gift!

A night out with friends is a great gift!

  • Coffee or restaurant gift cards, especially for the parents in your life! My husband and I run on caffeine and Jesus. Jesus is free, Starbucks is not. I genuinely cannot think of a better gift than a Starbucks gift card. As for restaurants, if it’s not Chick-fil-A, the hubs and I don’t get to enjoy it together. So how about a restaurant gift card and an offer to babysit?

Shopping for worthless stuff has become way too easy. Rather than showering your friends and family with whatever you can find in the clearance aisle, pick something that will really enrich their lives. As an added bonus you’ll avoid getting the stink-eye from a tired mama who can’t stand the thought of ONE MORE TOY.

Check out the 40 Non-Toy Gift list for even more ideas!

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205 Responses to A Friendly Holiday Suggestion From a Mom with Too Much Stuff

  1. Natasha Mccreary October 31, 2016 at 10:21 am #

    I love this! We decided that we’re not buying “all the stuff this year” Our children have everything, so much stuff they don’t even have room to play in their rooms with their stuff. I also talked to my mom about this and she had been thinking the same thing. We’re definitely going to do subscription boxes, my daughter loves getting packages and we homeschool, so these will be awesome. And maybe some passes to different places. Great article!

    • Sheli Novak November 3, 2016 at 1:39 am #

      I’m the mom of a medically fragile toddler adopted from foster care. My 5 grown children are i24-37. 11 grandkids newborn to 15. WE ALL HAVE TOO MUCH.
      After spending 3 months in the NICU with my sweet girl, And many more weeks inpatient I know there are kids in children’s hospitals that have nothing, sometimes not even a parent. Gifts like pajamas, slippers, blankets, stuffies, and color books could be a huge blessing. And those mommas and daddies who spend long hours( I spent 150 days with my sweet girl 3 hours from home) need those things too and toiletries and coffee and magazines and gum and breath mints.
      Newborns and premies love swaddle gowns and swaddle blankets.
      Get your kids involved and make a sick child’s days magical.

      • Barbara November 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

        Sheli Novak. Beautiful that’s the best idea yet….sharing is truly caring for the very less fortunate. ❤️?❤️

      • Viv Sluys November 4, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

        Thanks for these suggestions! My 8 year old is asking for donations for families at our Children’s Hospital and it’s good to have a list instead of just asking for cash.
        And for anyone reading this who thinks it’s unfair to get her to do this; it was all her own idea with no prompting!

      • Deanna Bodenhamer November 5, 2016 at 11:21 am #

        Wonderful ideas all. And remember too, the Children’s Homes have many children to care for and would likely give you a wish list even for basic NEEDS.

        • laura ann November 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

          I get needed things for several children’s group homes in my area, also older people prefer gift cards or food baskets with their favorite baked goods, teas, candies, etc. Gift cards for eating out, grocery stores or their favorite stores like Cracker Barrel gifts. I know I don’t need more “stuff” unless it is used up like food or lotions, or eating out. I would tell people what I prefer if they ask and I would ask them what they’d like.

      • Dr. R January 15, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

        Agreed and there are plenty of preschools and schools who do not have the money for books, you can donate there as well. If the toys are new and just not suitable, there are many charities that collect for children.

        Some ideas are good here in the original article but not all….. You can also give coupons for things for your children that are age appropriate. One day off from doing the dishes or a trip to the store for an ice cream cone with just that child. Children like time with Mom or dad alone, especially children in large families such as Jama’s. As they got a little older my children would make coupon books for ME as well, much appreciated.

    • Grandma November 4, 2016 at 10:56 am #

      You sound exactly like my daughter – down to the smallest detail! Excellent article, and you are so right. My daughter used to live in Chattanooga. We all love it there – I’m happy for you to be in such a great place. If she ever moved back, you two would really connect. But – of course – neither one of you has time. You’re busy moving stuff around and getting those kids to pick up the LEGOS!!!! Best of luck to you in your new town.

    • Janet November 4, 2016 at 11:28 am #

      Zoo pass (w/ parking!) already purchased for the grandkids!

    • Cynthia November 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

      When my children were young, we’d get the toys they’d out grown and give them away. The toys were well taken care of, so some toys looked new.

    • Leanne inwards November 4, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

      Just loved this post , I’m a mum of 3. 9 yr old boy , 12 yr old girl & 15 yr old boy ?
      Yep so tired of there stuff , my 9 yr old loves making stuff out of cardboard , so would be excited over a box , my 12 yr old girl is the collector in the family , loves everything & has everything , 15yr old just loves technology as hubby’s is a computer programmer ..
      Me loves book, clothes & shoes as works in a shoe shop & loves history as a tour guide to .. So yes this year it’s being kept simple .. Unfortunately as loving as there uncle is as he has no other Bruce & nephews or children etc . Spoils the kids ! Last year he’s car was filled with presents front & back & boot too .. Omg still trying to dispose of or find a place for the stuff .. So thanks for sharing this love it xx

    • Brenda November 5, 2016 at 7:04 am #

      Perfect response. I as a grandmother was offended this article. He is my response….As a grandparent, my comment is; coordinate with the parents as to what is needed for the children. As a grandparent, I really do enjoy buying( what I am told I can buy) for my grandchildren and having them open gifts even if they enjoy for a short time. The parent then can pitch if they so desire. I can say, I am offended with this article.It’s a shut down of family and a slap in the face.

      • RakishLass November 6, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

        How is this a shut down of family? Buying unneeded things is so wasteful, and teaches children just that, that fin they get bored with something they can just toss it. There is no lesson of financial responsibility, of any kind of responsibility really.

        Giving experiences over item so enriches children’s lives, and as the article mentions, getting a small accompanying item to go with the museum/zoo/science centre pass is a great way to get the child excited about what’s to come. There is also the added benefit of being able to go to these places with your grandchild, or help with them the activites in the case of a subscription box.

      • Judy H November 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

        As a grandmother, this is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. I have always tried to buy things my grandchildren need by having them make me a list but after reading this ridiculous article , I feel guilty for buying them anything at all if it is going to be considered “useless stuff ” that does nothing but clutter up their house. This seems typical of a generation of extremely spoiled people who never learned to appreciate anything because they were always given too much. They may regret feeling this way after the grandparents are gone & they no longer get anything at all to clutter their house. Then will they learn to appreciate the emptyness?All I can say is “Ba-humbug.”

        • Kristen November 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

          Judy, I don’t really understand your argument. You are offended that the author is saying “my children have way too much stuff; please stop!” Yet in your very own words, you complain that recent generations are “extremely spoiled” because “they were always given too much.” You are proving the author’s point exactly! She doesn’t want her kids to be spoiled with way too many things they don’t need and won’t appreciate.

          Also, for everyone complaining that they love buying things for their grandkids and communicate with the parents about what is needed–the author clearly says that yes, her kids do need a few things. I don’t think she is saying we should get rid of gift-giving altogether. She is only asking that we give thoughtful gifts and try to focus on what will be appreciated rather than end up ignored in a pile of clutter. If you say that you do already focus on what your grandkids need, then you are probably doing a good job and are not the audience this article is focused on.

        • mama November 7, 2016 at 8:41 am #

          honey, you need to lighten up! 🙂
          my mother buys our sons stuff they can use and enjoy like paper and pencils or books or movie tickets…my family is into things for their use AND enjoyment, but I NEVER thought once about the STUFF my grandmother bought me after she died! I have memories of experiences that she and I shared, NOT THINGS! I hope your grandkids appreciate everything about YOU, not the STUFF you have them when they were three years old they will never remember.
          Much love and peace and be well with yourself NOT worth the THINGS you are surrounded by. we are not a generation of spoiled kids we are a generation that is trying to teach our children about love and compassion for others, especially during the season of thanksgiving and christmas, don’t mistake it!! 🙂

          • Brenda T. December 11, 2016 at 10:16 am #

            Beautifully said ❤️

        • Denise November 13, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

          Gosh

          Judy and Brenda – so it’s all about you and what you want, not what’s best for your (adult) child or your grandchildren. Waste the environment, teach them that everything is disposable, and dump the burden onto your daughter ( or daughter in law??) to have to find time to tidy up or declutter. But that’s OK because you got YOUR emotional pay-off.

          Get a grip on your egos, both of you.

      • Kristen November 6, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

        Why is this a shut down of family? Would you like to know what is *actually* a shut down of family? The fact that, although I would love to do things like go to museums, amusement parks, movies, restaurants, etc with my kids, my husband and I can rarely afford do any of those things. Yet we live in an apartment filled with SO MANY TOYS, 70% of which our kids never touch after the first 10 minutes. Every day I come home to the clutter and it stresses me out to the point that I cry. And every Christmas I BEG my mother-in-law to please reconsider buying so many toys (a few toys are ok, I understand that!), because we simply do not have the space and it is hurting our home life. Things like memberships and movie gift cards would be so amazing, and would allow us to have fun together instead of being stuck in a stressful, overflowing environment. So no, I don’t think this article is a shut down of family. I think it’s asking people to remember that families need time together more than they need 300 different toys!

      • Mikah November 6, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

        I’m sorry you feel this way. I am caused much anxiety by this time of the year, to the point of tears in anticipation of all the stuff. First, I must say, I have the most amazing MIL a girl could ask for. Her love language is gift giving. This last year I negotiated her down to 6, yes 6, gifts per child…and she still didn’t stick to it. We moved from a condo to a much larger home so I guess she felt we had the room for it all. So here is where the true problem lies, my kids don’t play with toys much. They want toys, but they honestly don’t play with them. And when I say that I mean they don’t even take them out of the box. And the toys that are out of their boxes don’t get played with until other kids come over and spread them all over the basement, which my kids have a meltdown about because they are now required to clean up a mess they didn’t make. Needless to say I offloaded a TON of toys.
        All this to say, aren’t we all burdened with enough stuff? My children’s love language is quality time. They would be delighted to go anywhere and do anything with someone, making memories, over receiving a gift. The gifts are honestly forgotten the next day.

      • mama duck trish November 7, 2016 at 12:37 am #

        brenda, how sad but i understand-how about you bring some of the kids’ toys thry already have – home with you for when they visit- this way, they don’t get overwhelmed and add to the chaos- or how about thinking of the experiences you had as a child, giving them those experiences they can have a good time doing is better than hodge podge items and will keep on giving- they can swnd you photos of them enjoying the experiences like memberships somewhere? or if you live close, tag along and be part of the memory making process-

      • Leslie Jordan November 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

        I so totally agree! I am new grandma and love seeing my granddaughter open things. Even clothes!!! Sounds like this mother is burned out!!! Why did u have four kids??? Sounds like she needs to teach them to pick up and have yard sales lol. And she’s griping cause everyone wants to buy for her kids!! I bet there are a lot of parents who would gladly welcome that!!!

      • Debbie November 8, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

        Good grief, Brenda! The article wasn’t meant as a command, just to be helpful. I am a stressed nana every Christmas. This helps me. If it doesn’t you, it’s ok.. Don’t be mean. Do whatever you enjoy., but get offended by something really important like abortion or abuse or violence.

      • Brenda December 11, 2016 at 10:12 am #

        Seriously? You need more than articles to read, apparently…Offended? I’m offended that you are offended about such brilliance! He, he!!

        Grandma – just do you, as silently – I promise you – your kids are wishing for the exact same ideas suggested by the poster. You might be surprised if you just ask. ?

        In the meantime, I’ll go be offended about real issues – racism, politics, crime, child abuse, the lottery not offering good odds to win, my puppy pooping on my pillow, and Vacation pricing in the up and up, for example… ?

        It would suffice to say, the only thing we have in common, may just be our name…

    • Beverly Jones November 6, 2016 at 1:52 am #

      We exchange Christmas ornaments with other children. We find ornaments during the year, specifically for each person and their interests. The year is written on it, and the giver’s name. Each of my children has their own box, so they decorate the tree with their own stuff, and repack it after Christmas. Now that they are adults, they took their boxes to their new homes, and their first tree is a link to their childhood trees. I still buy them a new ornament each year

      • Jill November 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

        I’ve done this with my children and grandchildren since 1974! They may think it’s kinda dumb when they are teenagers but they sure love that box of ornaments after they have gotten married…I hear so many “I remember this one and that one”!it continues to bring joy each year. The grandkids love it too. They get their new ornament each year on thanksgiving day. We love this tradition! As a grandma I still do love to give that one special gift the kids love getting. It’s what makes Christmas so fun…and I do give them my time and experiences all year long

    • Candi November 6, 2016 at 4:40 am #

      This is how we do Christmas now. 2nd year. I bought my kids new hat and mitten sets and snow boots for Christmas. I told my oldest “getting clothes, food, craft supplies , board games and books is all they need. My husband buys me garden supplies for our vegetable gardening. I grow vegetable plants. and fruit plants durning winter in my house. The kids love this. cooking wear like cast iron pans if I need it which are a good investment. You can also use for cooking on grills or fires for emergencies. I do a lot of home cooking. Canning materials. Also will be teaching them about canning. Myself to. All get my kids a couple books from The thrift store that is useful. Like teaching ones that will help them with a subject their struggling in school, nature books , books to encourage reading. Board games are important in my home. If my children out grow some we donate them to thrift store and replace them with ones from thrift store. It’s good to use for teaching them the importance of socialize , familyand etc, and not be on the tv or video games for hours durning holiday breaks. I let my sons have craft supplies. Favorite popsicle sticks and oragami paper. They design their own toys or etc. I see them play more with this then toys. We still have some toys. Don’t get me wrong. But they have had the same ones for almost several years now. One of my sons still has a pirate ship he got on his second birthday. He is 9. Lol!!!

      This Christmas my son will be getting his first compass. I gave him a lot of state maps I have had since I was a child from National Geographic last year. Also gave him the animal cards I had when’ I was a child. My mom saved them for her future grand kids. He loves this stuff. Passing down something from the family is a nice gift to give especially when they are getting older. Also I put a couple dollars away in their piggy bank on holidays and don’t tell them. So when graduation comes they already have a gift that will diffently help them with etc.:)

    • Arlette November 6, 2016 at 7:50 am #

      I think a gift certificate to a portrait studio/photographer would be fantastic for parents with children. I’m going to be a first time grandma this March and that is my idea for my son and his wife.

      • Lea November 12, 2016 at 8:23 am #

        Mother of four young children myself. Absolutely love this… Best. Gift. Idea!!! Aside from professional photos, there are very few pictures of me with my children, so I absolutely cherish them.

    • Adam November 6, 2016 at 8:23 am #

      Thank you! Great article. I hope I can convince my family. I am already buying them Southwest gift cards as presents so they can ultimately visit us, since we live far from my side of the family. My wife and I also follow your advice when buying presents for our kids and each other. We like to buy memories, not crap.

    • Heather Mason November 7, 2016 at 10:36 am #

      I needed this !!!!! I’m not a mom but I shop every year for friends and family with children. Thanks for helping me realize what goes on after the excitement is over !!!!!

  2. Caroline October 31, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    These are WONDERFUL alternative ideas! Great blog post! I have been giving my grandmother gift cards to Clinique for years and last year I started the tradition of giving my parents an Amazon Prime membership, which will remind me every year to renew it for them. Again, love your ideas!

  3. Valerie Green November 2, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    This is definitely something I can relate to and agree with, and sadly there are too many well meaning gift givers that just don’t think of the things that you mentioned, so thank you so much! I’m also a mom of four, including both my daughters who have special needs and we are in Chattanooga alot because of appointments. Gas and food gift cards would be perfect for those occasions! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Susan McGough November 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    Great article. We have for the last couple of years been educating our boys that Jesus received 3 gifts and if that was enough for him, then 3 is more than enough for them. The stress in our family starts when those monster catalogs come from Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and many others with 1000 useless and overpriced toys lands in our mailbox. I appreciate your honesty in writing this. I think there are probably more people who feel like this, then you think.

    • Dee November 4, 2016 at 1:06 am #

      Actually, that is not true. He received more than 3. Research that.

      • Marilyn November 5, 2016 at 1:58 am #

        Would you tell us how many more an what they were?

        • nicole November 5, 2016 at 2:51 am #

          What is ironic is that Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birthday… not ours – or our children’s. So no matter how many gifts Jesus received, we don’t need to match it. If you have a heart for God, keep challenging yourself to keep the focus on Him… and put that gift magic towards our children’s actual birthdays.

  5. Tyane November 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    I love this! I’m also a mom of four boys, and I dread trying to plan their Christmas this year (stuff is expensive, the older they get). After reading this, I will implement another approach that will make a difference, rather than clutter 🙂

  6. Jean meyer November 2, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    Awsome idea very inspired ?

  7. Jane November 2, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Buy savings bonds. By the time they mature kids are ready for cars and such. My oldest bought his first car from savings bonds grandparents had bought.

    • Janice Simonson November 5, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      While I love this idea, savings bonds are not what they used to be. The interest rate is extremely low (.10 % on EE and 0.00 % on I) and you can only buy them electronically then hold them in your account or the recipient must have an account you can send them to. If anyone has other ideas of money saving accounts that make money I would love to hear them.

      • Linda November 5, 2016 at 11:31 am #

        I have a friend who opened a saving account for each of their nephews and nieces. They put money into the savings account for them every year for birthdays and Christmas. When they graduated high school there was money saved to pay for part of their college.

      • Susan November 5, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

        There are other investments you can do instead of savings bonds. I think the idea is to give them something that is saved that they can use later. Good investments can really add up; we’ve done it for our kids and they are so grateful..

      • Cindi November 6, 2016 at 7:30 am #

        Actually, look into a youth spending account or checking account. We put money into them and gave them to our 14-year-old and 11-year-old daughters last year. We put into their accounts each month what we would spend on them for activities, shampoo, etc., and they then have to budget their own money for their own stuff. This was an idea from the Dave Ramsey book, “Smart Money, Smart Kids”, and it has been fun to watch them really plan their spending. It has in itself cut down immensely on what they think they want to buy. 🙂 Even little kids can do this. We used to buy Visa gift cards for each when we went on vacation with the caveat that: it’s your money and you can spend it any way you want to, but when it’s gone, it’s totally gone and there will be no more coming. They were sooooooo much more careful. 🙂

      • Merrilee November 7, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

        Educational savings account (ESA) pick mutual funds that have at least a 10 year record. I wish my in laws would give us money for ESA instead of toys.

  8. Tia November 2, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    One other thing that you didn’t mention, is shopping for others. My mom just LOVES to shop. She doesn’t find gift cards or paying for lessons fun. So I’ve channeled her love for shopping into helping needy families at the holidays. I sponsor a family from a local charity and give her the list of what they want/need (it’s almost always “needs” like winter coats). She loves it, we don’t get stuff we don’t need, and the families get gifts when they wouldn’t have. Win all around!

  9. Jen November 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

    Any ideas for infants? I have a new baby niece and want to be mindful of giving more stuff (that she really already has or will get from other relatives) but she’s too young to enjoy a museum or anything like that. Any ideas besides stocks/bonds/money? Thanks!

    • Ann C November 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

      Diapers, wipes -ask about upcoming clothing size needs? Gift cards for photography sessions or to a retailer for printing of pictures.

    • Kathi November 3, 2016 at 1:03 am #

      If the newborn”s mama is into making her own baby food go to Amazon & purchase one of those pouch kits. It’s better for baby to eat what mama knows is in the pouch & it last longer than you think. I found it not to be as expensive as I thought either. MY DIL loved it & my granddaughter had good healthy meals. It’s a win win if the mama is into making her own baby food

    • Marie November 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Have they set up a college account for her? At that age putting the money you would have spent on gifts in an account could build some decent compound interest for her!

      • Cindi November 6, 2016 at 7:34 am #

        YES, YES, YES! They will appreciate it so much in the future when they actually can think, and if you added a little bit each year, they will get excited to watch it grow.

        And good for you for being an awesome aunt who isn’t worried more about feeling good about herself than anything else. Young kids don’t remember any of this stuff.

        What about some kinds of “mommy and me” class? Or, babysitting while you send mom out for a massage — or a nap. LOL Or even getting mom some meals so she doesn’t have to think about dinner every once in a while. Helping mom’s brain get a break is awesome for the kids, too.

    • Janice November 3, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

      Swim with Mom or Dad
      a wish bank

    • K Crane November 4, 2016 at 6:49 am #

      Kiwi Crate just came out with a new crate for ages 0-2. My husband and I plan on getting this for all of our nieces and nephews. You might look into that. I’ve also been to baby showers where I have to bring my favorite book for the child’s library. If mom and dad like to read, I’m sure additional books would be nice so they aren’t reading the same ones every few nights.

    • Jill November 4, 2016 at 7:10 am #

      re: infants–Piggy bank with a starter amount of coins in it. Really don’t underestimate the power of college money or savings bonds. YOU might want to give toys and such, but especially as a baby, they have NO CLUE that they’re even getting anything. So while they don’t know ages 0-2, give them all those things–and then give them gifts of books and certificates for events when they are old enough to really enjoy them. I have 4 girls and everyone wants to know what to get for our infant. I can’t think of a single thing. Other ideas: amazon, walmart, target. BRU gift card to save up for the next size car seat, grocery store gift certificates for baby food, or just ask the parent what clothing they need for winter, etc.

      Something else for the older kids-gift cert. for FOOD at the zoo, aquarium, etc. especially with large families it’s a lot more difficult to plan trips around meals especially while juggling a variety of ages of kids.

      Babysitting is also completely invaluable. Sometimes the best gift you could give a baby or toddler is a date night out for mom and dad. Especially if they dont have a sitter, day care or people nearby that help out on a regular basis.

      • Renee November 4, 2016 at 10:54 am #

        Yes, to books. Books are great for all ages. If you have no clue give a book gift card, and a cute bookmark attached.

    • Mom of 3 November 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

      Write her a letter that she can open on her 18th birthday ?

    • Debbie November 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

      My brother in law set up college savings accounts for all my boys for their first birthday and they ckntribute to that each holiday and send the kids a nice book. It has been such an awesome gift!!!

    • Anna November 5, 2016 at 10:43 am #

      I always appreciated diapers

    • Connie November 5, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

      For babies I would suggest a photo shoot with pictures package which vary in price depending on if it is Walmart or a professional photographers photos. I gift this for the second or third child of a family because they already have all the hand me downs from the older sibling(s). Later children don’t have as many pictures taken as the first. It is also a nice gift for the parents to share with the extended family who don’t get to see the child often. For older kids and if you have a decent camera, attend their hockey game or soccer game and take pictures of them in action and gift a Memory key full of photos of them and their team or family.

    • Marla Hudgins November 6, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      A gift of diapers.com where mom can order what ever she needs.

    • MA November 7, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

      I love the photo idea…wish we had had the money for nice photos when they were little!

    • Debbie Williams Foster November 17, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

      We give our baby granddaughter diapers for Christmas and birthdays (plus she gets deposits in her savings account). Once she is older, the diapers will be replaced by lessons, zoo memberships, museum memberships (and the savings account deposits will continue). I wish I had done the same thing for our children when they were young. Though we were always frugal, we still wasted money on things that ended up being a waste of time, money, effort, plus added to the stress of working parents. A lesson I did learn later I will share: when our daughter started college I had $25 a month placed in a special savings account for her. When she graduated, I gave her that stash of money so she’d have something to start with once she started her new life and job. It was not a huge amount, but it did offset expenses for damage deposit for an apartment, utility deposit, and moving truck rental for her trek from her college apartment to her job in a different state. Friends and family generously celebrated her graduation with gifts of cash which also helped with her move.

      I grew up in extreme poverty; as a child I remember adults always saying that if you are “good then Santa will bring you presents.” My brothers, sister, and I were very good children and received nothing for Christmas because every bit of money went for daily survival. Reading the ugly replies from some of these folks just saddens me. No one is trying to take away your family or your joy. Though I did not receive Christmas gifts due to lack of money, I learned what Christmas was and what it was not. Christmas is the joy of togetherness and family. Christmas is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Christmas is not a bunch of gifts given to piss off your children or in-laws. Christmas is reaching out with a generous heart to give the gift of time, experience, and wisdom to others. My mother-in-law, now deceased, tried to make everything equal down to the last penny. Unfortunately, she also included her time with this. Because of her other granddaughter living a few hours away, she felt she should not spend much time with our daughter who lived a two miles away since Sarah might feel slighted. Our daughter had to beg to spend time with her grandmother. Our Courtney’s most cherished memories of her grandmother are cooking with her for the holidays and writing down all of Mammaw’s favorite recipes and asking about what her life was like when she was Courtney’s age. Courtney probably could not tell you today what gifts she received from Mammaw at Christmas (which totaled up to the exact amount as the other grandchildren), but she will tell you with delight how to make Mammaw’s ham and cheese rolls or apple stack cake. She can tell you what activities Mammaw participated in while in high school and fun things she liked to do with her pals. I am sorry to take over your post like this, but I just want others to know what really counts with kids. Make a memory that will last forever. It might be building snowmen, ice skating lessons, a trip to a play, anything that is an experience. And if you really want to buy some gifts, sponsor a family from your church or community and take your grandchildren with you as you pick out gifts for them. When the only thing on a six year old or a sixteen year old’s WISH LIST is socks and underwear, the grandkids will come away with a sense of compassion when they ask grandmother if they can help buy some books, crayons, and toys for the child with their own money.

  10. Brenda Swindall November 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    Jama, Thank you for speaking up. I usually give clothes. Ask what are they in need of. 10 grandchildren. 2 are in Chattanooga 3 & 4 year old boys. Great suggestions.
    Have a blessed Christmas ?❤?

  11. Barbara Jackson November 2, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

    What I found missing in this blog was the effort to teach children the pleasure of GIVING. Why not use some of that money to find ways to help the homeless, or an animal shelter?

    Barbara Jackson

    What I found missing in this blog was the notion of teaching children the pleasure of giving — why not use some of that money to aid the homeless, or help an animal shelter. A personal visit to one of these places with your kids would be the kindest gift of all.

    • Janet November 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

      In our community we do socks for seniors, take them to the senior ciitizens, people that are alone. A quick hello, and a moment given from your heart

      • Renee November 4, 2016 at 10:59 am #

        Our church had a mitten and sock tree in the foyers. Other things appeared there too. Scarfs, sweaters, gloves for men and women. It was wonderful to see the tree fill through Advent. We then donated to our inner city mission to the people less fortunate.

  12. Laurie November 2, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    I’ve been doing that for the last 6 years. My kids are grown( all 6 of them + there other halfs) and I have 7 grandkids, gets expensive. I like to do things with them so I have given them things to do for all of us together. Whitewater rafting, indoor rock wall climbing, dance lessons, and things like that. But my best gift was that I designed a scavenger hunt through Boston. I designed all the riddles for them to figure out and we broke it up in 2 teams(boys against girls). I gave them all money for so many trips on the T and paid for a couple surprise things that they had to pick up along the way. They had to take a group pic with every answer they found. At the end the last clue brought us to the restaurant where we all ate. It was an amazing and very competative time! I also had trophies for the winning team. I am running out of ideas but they now cant wait to see what surprise I have instore for them every year. Oh yeah so for under there tree I gave each familly a box with a can of Boston Baked Beans, old maps of Boston and a riddle written in Boston slang for what was planned!!!

    • Shirley November 3, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      You are very creative, Laurie!

    • Priscilla November 4, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

      LOVE this!! This would be an awesome thing to do even with my family of 7, husband and I and kids 15, 13, 10, 8, and 5.

    • Jacquie November 5, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

      I would love to see this. We’ve never been to Boston. Is there any way to share? It’s just me and my daughter. We would have to invite another mom and daughter.

    • Kim Monk November 5, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

      AMAZING!! Such a great idea!! Your family will have memories for a lifetime!! My kids sometimes remember the gifts they received for Christmas but they remember Christmas MOMENTS and love retelling those stories.

  13. Alice November 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

    Thank you. My grandchildren are over run with stuff, we also made the decision not to buy toys that are not needed. Love your suggestions.

  14. Bonnie November 2, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    I buy for a family of four boys, much like yours. I like to take one thing off of their wish list. Last year I decided to surprise them, each received a soft cozy blanket with their names embroidered in the favorite color. They were welcomed with smiles and snuggles. So this year I will again do a special gift.I will be looking into the kiwi boxes. Thank you for writing this. I too think there is to much stuff in everyone’s lives.

  15. Karen November 2, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    As a grandparent, I’ve always wanted my entire family to adopt a less fortunate one. We’d buy their gifts and then ALL if us GO and visit that family to present them with their gifts.
    Then come back to my place for a meal together to celebrate the JOY of giving.
    It hasn’t happened yet but, maybe someday………

    • Sallie wyatt November 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

      We did that when my children were little. It all went well until we delivered the gifts. It was very awkward for both families. My kids remember this very well. I would suggest instead of delivering gifts do it through a church or shelter.

    • Johnnie November 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

      Our family and adopt a family, but we have never deliver the gifts because we like to do it anonymously.
      Something else in our family did–14 years, we prepared a traditional meal and served it to anyone in the community who wanted to come and join us. It was amazing!

  16. sheryl November 2, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Sorry but as a mom of 8, idk of one child who would get excited over a savings bond, or even a zoo pass. Half the fun of a gift is opening it and gift cars or the like are just not exciting. There must be an alternative, a book? cd? dvd?

    • b November 4, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

      Do the kids not get joy out of giving? Christmas is not about getting gifts. Since my kids were little and we had no money because I was a student, we made a bday cake for Jesus and had a family meal. They gave used toys to the hospital and they received gifts from family and friends. Life isn’t about stuff and may e it’s not exciting because they don’t realize that? Not trying to be mean but my kids love to see the faces of the people who come and get their donated toys

    • Rachel November 4, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      Agree! My daughter is 7 and in the in-between stage. She still believes in Santa and toys are a big part of that. She is still influenced by toy books and commercials, but will tire of those things quickly, not to mention doesn’t really have time to even play with her toys by the time she gets out of school, does homework, eats dinner and spends time with the family. I am totally stumped this year

    • Julie Allen November 4, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

      my son loves our zoo pass. He asks to go at least every two weeks

    • Johnnie November 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

      As one of 12 children, a great deal of joy came from watching other people’s expressions of gratitude when they opened their gift.

  17. Mom_of_3 November 2, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

    Well that just sounds miserable. My best memories of my childhood were Christmases filled with wall to wall presents. We love opening gifts and appreciate when someone has thought of our children. Every year I wrap up lots of necessities (coats, gloves, boots, pajamas, slippers, underwear, face products, wall calendars, batteries, flashlights, toothbrushes, jeans, sweaters, books, and a few toys) so that we get to open lots of gifts. Sure, its a mess, but we clean it up right after we open it. And its so much fun. If you only get clothes/toys for Christmas, Easter and birthdays, they are special. The kids don’t get toys any other time. When we get a duplicate copy of a book, we just donate one of the copies to one of the kids classrooms at school. (I collect books because I love to read. So the kids have an ever-expanding collection that started with the hundreds of books I read as a child. You can NEVER have too many books…just a shortage of bookcases and wall space.)

    • Gwen Baggett November 3, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Although I appreciated the original blog post, I agree with this Mom_of_3. I’m 64 now and my sons are 31, 28 and 26, and for my entire life Christmas has been the most intimate, loving and exciting holiday FOR OUR ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY!! We spend what money we can on each other, get sneaky in finding out what will surprise each other, *make* gifts, and as adults we still exchange “wish lists” that include *everything* from our favorite gum to new cars (which we do NOT get. LOL) We spend at least 5–6 HOURS opening gifts, one at a time, sharing and showing, laughing and loving. We eat a lot and then the WHOLE FAMILY plays board games for the rest of the day. Yes, me “make” the men and other reluctant ones play, too, and they have come to enjoy it. On Christmas Eve we usually go to church together, then we are The Norman Rockwell family and everyone gathers around the piano, plays other instruments, and we sing every Christmas song we can think of. The youngest family members are learning these songs and are learning to also love the whole Christmas celebration. Since several of us travel quite a way to get together, and it’s often the only time we’re ALL together, we extend this joyous event to 2–4 days. Many of us incorporate giving to others into this event, as well. Our family does not have rifts and grudges and back-stabbing and actually LOVE getting together. I attribute every moment of this to having a Godly family who has always put Him first, and those Godly parents and grandparents raising their children to be responsible, mature, respectful Christians. As an afterthought, and with all due respect, I think that these special memories, memories, memories would be missing something if we exchanged simply gift cards, magazine subscriptions, and memberships. Merry Christmas!!!

      • Vanessa Guyette November 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

        We really enjoy the gift giving on Christmas too. Of course that is not the only activity and not what is most important, but I don’t buy toys or many gifts other than birthdays and Christmas. I didn’t receive much as a child other than those holidays and it was part of the joy. We didn’t have a lot of money and didn’t get a lot of clothes during the year, so they were great presents. I try to get something that is needed and wanted as presents for my family. Giving at least one gift that a child is so excited to receive is great fun for grandparents. I like many of the suggestions by the author too and they would be good gifts for some. Children need to know what Christmas is actually about including the birth of Jesus and the joy of giving to others, but don’t take the joy from a grandparent who really wants to see their grandchild excited by a gift that they unwrap.

        • Sheila November 4, 2016 at 10:39 am #

          EXACTLY!

      • Kristi November 5, 2016 at 1:33 am #

        Gwen I think that those are beautiful traditions and from what you described, it sounds like it works because your family is focused on the giving. They take the time to find out what will be best for each family member so that the gifts are meaningful and not just stuff that will be discarded soon. The original post is referring to the trap people get into who buy just to buy from and aren’t really taking into consideration the person receiving the gift. For example her boys (and I have to agree my kids are the same) don’t need grandma to buy them another set of toy keys just for the sake of opening a toy. They already have them and probably none of the kids are into keys as a hobby. Society as a whole has become obsessed with “more” and “stuff” as the writer mentioned. Obviously if we were focused on the people as you and your family have been, then “stuff” wouldn’t be an issue during this season. And a zoo pass might be a great gift for a child who loves animals. I always tell my family I actually want gift cards because then they’ve given me the gift of shopping which is something I LOVE to do but rarely can. Again, the point is keeping the focus on the person instead of the gift. 🙂

      • Sally November 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

        This sounds like my family. We get together at Christmas with everyone, and some extra. Ages have ranged from a few months to almost 90. Although we give “large”gifts to each other, our favorite time is opening our stockings. Each member purchases a stocking present for everyone else. The gift can not cost more than $1. We get very creative at the dollar store, thrift shops and supermarkets. My sons are 23 and 21. Two years ago, we skipped the stocking tradition. My sons refused to accept the decision and still bought gifts for everyone. After all, we started this tradition over 30 years ago. Best part of our Christmas Day!

      • Cindi November 6, 2016 at 7:39 am #

        Gwen, I think the biggest gift you guys give each other is that family time. The presents could disappear, and yet if you were all together, Christmas would still be fabulous. Good for you guys.

      • bree November 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

        Your Christmas sounds so full of love! There is definitely fun in opening gifts! But most children will collapse after 6 hours of opening gifts-I can’t imagine them then playing games for hours after that. We are also at the point of having way too many toys and too much stuff since we have children spanning from toddler to teen. The good thing is when they get older, they love things like music. It IS fun to see a lot of things under the tree; so I wrap up a few special things and a bunch of needed things like clothing. Lego are big fun here, and the only toys they ask for anymore; so their special gifts are Lego. It’s easy to have lots of tubs dedicated to them, and weed out the less played with items. Whenever anyone asks what they want, it’s Lego or a new sports ball, music, books, or clothes. :> Eventually, we will have Lego everywhere and joke we’ll build a floor out of it.

    • Sharon November 3, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

      It’s about teaching kids that joy is not found in stuff. If opening presents is the best part of Christmas, then we’re definitely doing it wrong. Our extended family gets together to eat and play games. Then we all pile into cars to go to a movie together. The kids love that they are going to be part of the festivities because we play games that even the young children can participate in. They love that they we mix up who is going to ride with whom to the theater and they don’t have to choose mom and dad. We spend the money we can’t often afford during the year buying tickets and drinks and popcorn and giant pickles that no one can ever eat all of. Kids think toys and “stuff” are necessary because we teach them that’s what Christmas is about. That’s what is sad. Not that we can’t give gifts – things we might need like new gloves and hats and socks and t-shorts can be fun as well as helpful. But most of the stuff we get is truly money spent on things that don’t bring much joy beyond the instant gratification of the opening of it. Wall to wall presents. I’m sorry, but that’s not joy. It’s just stuff.

    • Jean November 4, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

      I agree! My kids only get toys for Christmas and birthdays, and a few small things for Easter. My house is not at all overrun with toys. When something is outgrown or not being used, it is donated. I know a lot of parents who buy toys all year round, every trip to Walmart, etc. I’m guessing that is why they are tripping over toys, certainly not because of a few well meaning relatives. Let the kids be kids. Stop rushing them. Let them enjoy a pile of brightly wrapped presents. Soon enough you will have teens who ask for nothing but money or gift cards. Then you’ll realized that you wished away your fun times. Watching the excitement in a little kids eyes to see a pile of presents under a tree.

  18. Kathi November 3, 2016 at 12:17 am #

    1. Contribute to an education fund, or an investment in the child’s name. This is a perfect grandparent gift that will grow, and be appreciated in the future!

    2. A special “date” or outing with the child on an individual basis – a trip, a hike, sports event, art show, museum visit, library, lunch. Time with a favourite relative for bonding, and a break for the parents.

    3. For the parents, give time as a babysitter, errand runner, extra hands and/or supervision for a special event.

    • Sheila Jackson November 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

      As much as other say this is so boring and kids would be miserable, my kids actually choose this gift for their birthdays. Haven’t tried it for Christmas since it’s such a busy time of the year, but for every birthday my mom will ask my girls ( now 8 and 11) if they want her to buy them a gift or go shopping together one day. They have always chosen for the last 3 to 5 years to spend the day together instead of having another present to open. My youngest actually got mad the first time it was offered to my oldest since my mom thought she would rather have the gift at that age. Ever since then, they both get a day out with Nana by themselves. It creates so many great memories, much more so than any store bought item ever would.

    • J November 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      I love this article.
      My suggestion:
      As a parent in a house full of “too much stuff” I remember thinking that one day when I was a grandparent I would resist buying things because most children are blessed with more stuff than parents can manage. In my mind I planned that instead of things I would make a donation to their university fund instead, and even if not right away, one day the grandkids would come appreciate it. Well, resisting gifts for grandkids is much harder than I imagined 🙂 but I still think a contribution to future education may be one of the most loving material gifts a grandparent can give. But I think it is very valid that the best gift of all for children and grandchildren is the gift of your unconditional love, your listening ear – your time.

  19. Cora November 3, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    I understand the sentiment, and I think all gift givers, out of common courtesy, should consider these things before buying a gift, but…it’s still considered rude to tell someone how they should give. It’s a GIFT. We are to assume they are giving out of the kindness of their hearts, and we should be appreciative of whatever gift someone chooses to give us.

    If you’re cluttered, you really should consider purging things. Maybe take a look at Marie Kondo’s book and try it out. It makes a huge difference, and now gift giving holidays are not stressful at all.

    Also, I’d encourage you to talk to your kids about giving toys away to the less fortunate. It’s a great opportunity to declutter, but it teaches them generosity and how to make sacrifices for other people.

    • Jen November 4, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

      I agree. Here’s what I think you should get for my kids. How rude. And if they are swamped with toys such that they can’t think of one thing they actually want, that seems to be America consumerism at its finest, being passed to the next generation. Sad.

      • Julie November 6, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

        American consumerism at it’s finest being passed to the next generation–YES–that is what we (the parents) are trying to avoid! Please help us rather than working against us! That’s all we’re saying!

  20. Jamie Priest November 3, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    I agree to disagree. Christmas is about the kids and giving. Don’t you remember opening those special gifts from grandparents? Yes if kids are 10-15 maybe movie passes, amusement parks, gift cards are acceptable, but what 3,4,5 year old wants a zoo pass in December? Or a gift card to go buy a pair of jeans? They want that toy they see on TV that their parents are not going to buy.
    Yes, teaching them to help the less fortunate I completely agree and buying educational toys is a plus. But I love the ‘junk’!
    I am the proud parent of 3 grown daughters and 5 Grands.

    • Julie November 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

      But maybe their parents are not going to buy it for a reason. And there are a lot of possible reasons, one of which is the desire to give the child his or her parents’ time and energy, rather than spending it constantly cleaning up toys or marshalling the kids to pick up toys, or because that toy is actually pretty violent, or because they don’t want more electronics so that the child will engage in more free play or be willing to go outside and enjoy that crisp winter air. Also, it’s a different generation. They understand gift cards early on–they know it means a fun trip to the store on a random day and the fun of choosing something to take home, or a day out. You may love the junk, but that doesn’t mean I want to live in the junk or want my kids to live in the junk. If you must do it, keep the junk at your house at least!

      • bree November 13, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

        I know a few grandparents that do keep the toys at their home. It’s a great solution for grandparents wanting to get gifts that won’t easily fit into the home of the child! When I babysat in my pre-parenting days, I bought a noisy gift for a child, and the parents let me keep it for babysitting days. I learned a big lesson! Ha! 🙂 ha!

  21. Kate November 3, 2016 at 8:01 am #

    There are also great charities out there, like Heifer International, that help others and foster a spirit of giving!!!

  22. Grace Dudley November 3, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    Children hear “no” sometimes, I believe.
    I wonder if everything is granted all the time, do children think life later on will be like that, too? Learning to deal w waiting or working for important things is a good thing.

  23. RACHEL November 3, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    I agree with a lot of your suggestions. I also have four boys, and our house is small. They don’t really need a lot. One thing I have done for smaller kiddos is to buy their favorite snacks and wrap them. The kids LOVE opening them and get excited, and the parents love that it’s not another toy.

  24. Tania November 3, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    You are absolutely right! Investing on gate passes to spend time with your kids is the greatest gift! Walking with them at the zoo or aquarium , hiking while holding their hands ( not our phones) is something that they will trasure and remember forever!
    Thank you for sharing your opinion !

  25. Whitney November 3, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    I love these ideas, but they’re pretty expensive. I can’t ask someone with a $20-per-kid budget to shell out for classes or a zoo membership (as much as we’d love those things).

    So, additional ideas for grandparents on a budget: buy fun consumables. Art supplies, craft kits, bubble bath, bubbles, snacks (check with the parents; there’s always something that the kids love that the parents allow but never buy) – that sort of thing. Ooh, and those little tablets that make the bath water turn colorful. Those are a big hit with little kids.

    For big kids: I have no idea, unless they’re into arts and crafts. Anybody else have ideas there? It has to be something that will get used up over time.

    For adults: well, in my case, yarn and paint and tea and chocolate. Feed the hobbies.

    • Mischa November 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

      I love to give my time….especially for each person. We’ve done things like Harlem Globetrotters, children’s museum, a show or a concert…. But we’ve also done things like mani/pedis at home, watch a movie (of their choice), make popcorn and play games together. It just needs to be one on one. A coupon book for whatever you’re great at works too. For instance, if you live close you can do a favorite dessert/food a month or change it up with a coupon to go thrift store hunting or having a pintrest day! Magazine or newspaper subscriptions and don’t forget almost EVERYONE needs or likes to get their hair cut or fixed. It’s meant to be a joyful time. And definitely before the holidays hit, have your kids (and maybe you too) make a big bag of donations from their previous gifts and take them to someone who needs them.

  26. Tracy November 3, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    Unless people ask you, or are looking for gift suggestions, it is rude to ask for certain gifts from people. I agree that we all have too much stuff, but if someone gives you a gift, that gift is thoughtful.

    • Julie November 6, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

      I think the point of the article is that sometimes it is not thoughtful. It’s not thoughtful to keep dumping stuff at someone’s house without thinking of the burden it imposes to manage, store, pick up, get the kids to pick up, and not so easily feel comfortable getting rid of because what if you ask about it or notice that it is missing, or hear from the kids that it was donated, when you visit? It’s not so much that we want to tell you what to get, as that we want you NOT to get some things. Knowing you are going to buy something, the next step becomes offering alternative suggestions. I think that feels yucky for all involved. Grandparents and other heavy gift-givers–heed the article because it’s a hard thing for us to say. But here’s the truth: I hardly ever read to my kids before bed anymore? Why? Because the end-of-day cleanup takes too much out of all of us, and takes too long. I read that as a real consequence of your impulse buys because you bring them something–little things–every time you come. You act like we are horrible for wanting to stem the tide. I’m sorry–I know it stinks for you but the reality is the stuff is actually making our family life worse.

  27. Jennifer November 3, 2016 at 10:16 am #

    I have significantly reduced the number of gifts we give our kids. Last year we had a big trip planned, and so our boys knew that they wouldn’t be getting as many things They were totally satisfied with not getting many presents, and they cherished what they did get even more. They weren’t overwhelmed with 500 gifts, and had time to play with what they did get.

    One rule we do use for gift giving (both Christmas and birthdays) is the 4 present rule: 1. Something you want, 2. Something you need, 3. Something to wear, and 4. Something to read. My 5-year-old got new rain boots for his something to wear last year, and he was over the moon about them. The something to read happened to be fun guide books for our trip to DC.

    This year I asked my mom to get them a science museum membership instead of a gift. The best part about the membership is that it also gets us into science museums around the country – not just the one near our town. I suggested this idea to them before I brought it up to grandma, and the kids thought it was a great idea.

    If my kids get money, most of it gets put in their savings account for college. My in-laws only buy one small gift for birthdays, and then donate to their savings accounts, or give a savings bond. I think it’s awesome.

    • Tori November 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      I have really liked this rule of 4 too as a guide for planning what to give each of our kids for Christmas. For what it’s worth, this is what my own list has morphed into over time, though it doesn’t have the nice rhyme. 1) Something to read- I want to encourage a love of reading. 2) Something they need- For me this category includes the ‘something to wear’ category, or it may be something for school like a new back pack or lunch box, or something for their bedroom like new bedding, an alarm clock or lamp. 3) Something that helps them develop a skill- This is the one I haven’t fit into the rhyme. This may include something to encourage them with learning to play an instrument like sheet music, or working on a sport like sport gear, or increasing their knowledge like a science kit. 4) Something fun! Here’s where they get to have something they’ve been wanting just for fun because it’s Christmas. So they get those four gifts from us, and they also get 5) one gift from Santa because they’ve been good. For me it’s been a good level of letting the kids get several things to open Christmas morning, and only a couple are extra things just for fun. Yes it adds to our stuff every year, so before we decide what to get, we have an annual clean out to donate things they don’t use anymore and to better identify what they could use, and it helps us hopefully not keep accumulating more stuff than before but updating it with things they’ll currently use. Also, I do love the idea of gifting an experience as one of their gifts.

  28. Lynn M November 3, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    My older children, 20ish, I’ve been thinking a Lifelock subscription for a year… after all who wants to pay for that, but could really help! Maybe a couple concert tickets or something fun to go with it!! Thank you for your wise words!!

  29. Emma @ Muddy Boots and Diamonds November 3, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    yes to all of this! I wrote a similar post last year for a local online magazine 🙂

    When asked for suggestions, I’ve been asking for experiences (swim lessons, museum memberships…) but it falls on deaf ears. Or I get a comment about how that isn’t fun.

    I think I’ve figured out that my in-laws get a lot of pleasure from giving things and watching their loved ones play/use them. So, while my suggestions could be fun for the receiver, they are not fun for the giver and get ignored. I could be okay with this if they bought a few things, but we end up with 50 presents between the kids at Christmas and it’s overwhelming. I purge before birthdays and Christmas (I’m making my 4yo help this year), but I’ve gotten passive aggressive comments when the giver comes over and sees something missing, which is always in the back of my mind when purging.

    I’m not giving up though. My mil asked for suggestions for my kids, and so I will once again suggest swim lessons, museum memberships, and subscription boxes. I’ll throw in a toy suggestion or two to make her happy, but I know the experiences are what make childhood happy, not stuff, so I’ll continue to suggest those.

  30. Lynn November 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    most of our out of state family want to buy the kids something so when they look at it, they will remember them. So what we do on holidays and Christmas is for every toy that comes in, another must go out. So the kids are allowed to decide what they want to keep or what is most important to them. This is a way to let the grandparents be able to give gifts and our house to not be overflowing. Hope this is helpful.

  31. Cathy November 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Very good article…however I would like to suggest two things.

    1. Donate your duplicates and things not really played with to charity

    2. Go through that plethora of toys and bag them up…bring one bag down for a few months then fill it back up and exchange it for another bag of different stuff..rotate things in a more manageable amount for your space….hopefully you have attic or basement storage for the exchange bags, if not, see#1.

    • Stacey November 4, 2016 at 10:09 am #

      It’s hard when we don’t have storage space for all of the stuff, then I feel bad getting rid of things they’ve barely had a chance to play with. And the gift givers will wonder where their presents are when they come over. I guess I also just grew up differently. Our grandparents had lots of grandchildren and limited funds so we each got a present and the aunts and uncles brought maybe one small thing for each. So we each left our big family get-togethers with two – three smallish presents….and thought it was awesome! It wasn’t overwhelming like it is now. My kids get as much, if not more, at my inlaws’ Christmas as they do from us and Santa combined. We can’t even take it all home sometimes and have to make a separate trip. I think my sister-in-law is starting to get on board though. 🙂

  32. Mar November 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more with everything in this article. I say this all the time. Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  33. Karen November 3, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    I’m giving both my daughter and son in law a membership to AAA this year. They are both on the road for their jobs.

  34. Mary November 3, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    Nursing homes have many people who are lonely & forgotten. Get some gifts for these people & take your family to deliver them to the individual persons. Then, during the year go back to read, write letters, or just spend time with them.

    • Barbara November 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

      Mary. Another wonderful and thoughtful idea….I am a volunteer Red Cross driver…there are many alone at Christmas/Holiday times…..all they want is someone to spend a bit of time with them. The best gift ever….your time….for lonely souls……God bless ….?❤️?

  35. Jen November 3, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    I have one son and am a single mom, so I wish I had your problem. I’m looking forward to Christmas and watching my son’s excitement in receiving things on his list. They are “things,” I know, but I remember getting excited over “things,” too. Memberships to things can be super costly for others (again, I wish I had that problem). I’m also not picky about what he gets, as long as he’s happy. And furthermore, I don’t think there is anything wrong with people purchasing things for him and having a sense of pride themselves. I actually am happy thinking they would. ?

  36. Sue November 3, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

    You have a lot of good points. Please really consider this point as well. I think one of the biggest problems is that people have forgotten what a “gift” is. A “gift” is something someone wants to give you. Not something you wanted. It’s something someone chose for you. When you start telling people what you want or could use more, you take away the meaning of a “gift”. To add to this point, teach your children to be thankful for whatever they were given…whether it’s something they wanted or not! It’s a “gift” if someone thought of you. Our spoiled world has forgotten that a “gift” isn’t what you always want, sometimes it is and some times it isn’t. You will always warm a heart of the person giving the gift if you love the special “gift” they gave you or your children even if it’s not what you wanted. We hope you and your family truly enjoy this holiday season especially for the reason of the season.

  37. Pat November 3, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

    I’m the grandmother of 1 little girl. She is the light of my life. I waited a long time to get to be a Memaw and I so enjoy spoiling her. Since I live far away from her, I like her to have “things” that she enjoys. We buy dance lessons and gymnastic classes for her birthday, but, when it comes to Christmas, I love to see the joy in her eyes when she’s opening gifts. I understand that you want to teach her the religious part of Christmas and the “giving” aspect. But, please don’t take away the joy I get from giving her presents!

    • Julie November 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

      A gift is something someone wants to give you…and if the giver doesn’t realize how much of a burden your gifts can become, we think surely if this person only realized the impact of what they are doing and that it is negative rather than positive, they would make a different choice. So this article is letting you know that. If you are giving a gift to show love, then you’ll jump on it. But if you are giving a gift because it makes you feel good—well that’s where she started in the article. Please reconsider.

  38. C Dumas November 3, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Great article! YES we have too much stuff!! And yet some don’t have much at all..Im a grandmother and love giving gifts. I’m sure I don’t always know what gift to give that is the most practical, yet fun! Being a grandparent your finally in a position to buy some of those not so practical yet fun gifts that you couldn’t get your own kids. Suggestion: maybe instead of taking away the gift giving ask extended family to draw names to lighten the burden on everyone and then for grandparents ask that they buy that one or two special gifts your kids would be so excited to get. Sometimes people on fixed incomes can find an extraordinary gift at a phenomenal price. Where as dance lessons etc may come at more of a cost. So the amazing position you are in since you have too much stuff, is have your kids go to the dollar tree, pick out several real pretty Christmas bags, then let them enjoy going through their closet and bundling up gift bags full of sweet treasures for children who would be elated to receive! Then grandparents can be grandparents and many other little ones will be smiling too 🙂

  39. Melanie November 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    I feel ya. I have 4 girls. They are the youngest of 8 grandchildren. 7 of which are girls. We truly have ALL the stuff. Many things in duplicate. I DREAD holidays and birthdays. So much stuff everywhere. Not only can they not find something they want to play with because it’s overwhelming, they don’t appreciate what they do have (i.e. take care of it as well as I think they should). We pick things for our homeschooling classroom that they want or games/movies for the family to enjoy together. Last year we also got things for updating their room that they needed already like new bedspreads and such.

  40. Maritza Rivera November 3, 2016 at 11:08 pm #

    “coffee and Jesus” YES! Great reminder!

  41. Beth Culverhouse November 3, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    Love how you throw grandparents under the bus here. I agree with the “too much stuff” issue ( after all, we all have too much stuff) but perhaps you could come at it from a different angle. I hope your children’s relatives don’t put themselves out to buy for your children.

  42. Ana November 3, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

    Wow, so many people commenting didn’t get the point of this post at all.

    “Am I buying this because it is useful and long-lasting? Or am I buying this because it makes me feel good and will make this child excited for a few minutes?”

    Over-gifting is wasteful, and like your situation, can be burdensome. I’m only pregnant and already dreading all the stuff. ‘Let grandparents have their fun and just be grateful for what you get’ does not help the over-consumption problem. Plus if people give less stuff, then they don’t have to be butthurt when you’ve gotten rid of the stuff they give you.

  43. anjlde November 4, 2016 at 1:06 am #

    Really good ideas however, here in Wyoming many of those options are not available! I would love ideas for those of us that live in more rural areas- we don’t have access to the big museums, activities or trips :/

    • Eva November 5, 2016 at 3:57 am #

      An e-reader like the kindle, and a membership to a public library that now also offer ebooks and e audio books. I’m in remote places a lot but never out of books, and don’t need to drag a heavy load around with me, just that slim little kindle with the books for free

  44. Leanne November 4, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    This is just sad. Really, we have to much “stuff” so instead buy us movies, memberships to this place or that place. Just keep spoiling the kids but just in a different way so it doesn’t mess up my house, is basically what you are saying. Why not, teach your kids a lesson and say anything we get is going to kids who need it because we are so fortunate, take it to a local charity where the kids aren’t showered with gifts.
    We have spoiled kids in America because their parents are spoiled!

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:08 am #

      I’m sorry, do we never see the people again who gave the gifts? I can’t just get rid of them. If you want to donate, donate–I’m not going to let you choose a gift for my child, spend money on it, give it to them, and then take it away and give it to someone else. Wouldn’t that be way more disrespectful and unloving?

      But this is important because I get this sense all the time–it’s actually NOT just parents asking for a house not to be messed up. Developmentally, kids are even less capable of adults of keeping things organized and living with clutter raises everyone’s stress level, including kids. They don’t enjoy being constantly tasked with picking up and cleaning up their rooms, nor do they enjoy constantly hearing mommy say, I will (play with you, read to you, come see what you built) just let me finish this. Nor do they enjoy living in messes. (They like making them, but not living in them.) Of course they enjoy a toy for a few minutes. But they LOVE when I move all the toys to the basement and they can enjoy some clear, calm space. But they are kids, so that lasts for about 15 hours if it includes overnight, then we start all over again. And they remember their stuff once they get it! It’s theirs! I respect that! So please help us out and don’t give them more than any of us can handle! I’m fine with nothing at all. I’m fine with consumables like coloring books and bubbles. I’d RATHER see you spend your money on yourself in a way you will enjoy!! And I’d like the support in teaching my kids to appreciate what they have and not take it for granted. With sheer volume, this becomes impossible. They *will* take it for granted because experience tells them there is always more on it’s way!

  45. Stephanie Rice November 4, 2016 at 8:17 am #

    If movie tickets, amusement park passes, etc., sounds like a miserable Christmas to you, you may be part of the problem of why (some) kids are the way they are these days. Those “wall to wall presents” you received when you were a kid are sitting in a landfill somewhere, along with the other plastic crap that children open and toss aside every year. Childrens charities generally want new, unopened toys. Give them a summer full of zoo or amusement park memories, Sunday matinees, or music lessons, and you have given them a lifetime of wonderful memories, rather than a toy they won’t even remember they have 3 months after Christmas.

    • janelle November 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

      YES! ^^^^

  46. Jan November 4, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    If you’re worried about missing out having “presents to open”…whenever I give a gift card I try to give a little something tangible to go with it. I got my older nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store to buy fishing supplies, but I wrapped it up with a package of those Goldfish crackers…it made him smile, and gave him something to unwrap. You can buy tickets to the movies and wrap a single package of popcorn. These things don’t add clutter to the house. I think almost everybody appreciates having a little something to unwrap.

  47. Gloria November 4, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    I have 5 grandchildren ages 2-10. I give them money for their bank accounts (or parents can purchase items they NEED) & a small gift, usually a book or crafty item or clothes (the girls love tutus), for Christmas & birthdays. I agree with you that they all have more than enough stuff.
    Adult children usually get gift cards for dinner & a movie. Gift giving HS never been so easy.

  48. Kimberly November 4, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    We are also tired of STUFF … !!! We do money, eat out gift cards, ITunes, for the Grandkids and that’s it After 39 years of being married I do not want anymore stuff. If it can’t be used up quickly or not gather dust we do not buy it… Our whole family is happier and much relieved.

  49. Linda Sanders November 4, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    I understand having too much stuff. My kids are grown and moved out, but left their STUFF behind “until they can get esrablished”, and I have stuff from my parents’ estate, which, because of grief, I haven’t been able to let go of yet. However, we home schooled too, and I never made my children give up their Christmas to give to others at the expense of no gifts for themselves. Our family ENJOYS opening gifts, one at a time, on Christmas Day for hours. We chose to keep the expense down by limiting gifts to three per child, and keeping the dollar value of the three gifts the same. Now that the kids are grown, and we have grandchildren, we LOVE to give our 3 year old grandson toys (and clothes, but he doesn’t get excited about clothes). I carefully choose toys that his mother has indicated he would like. It fills my heart with joy when I hear he is still playing with them months later, and they are his FAVORITE. As homeschoolers, we also learned that toys are invaluable for some childhood development. Fine motor coordination for younger ones, mind building strategy games for older kids, etc. Play is necessary for good growth, and one doesn’t get that from iTunes or electronics or food gift certificates. While savings bonds may be a good choice for the parents, children won’t appreciate them. Personally, I don’t like to receive gift certificates in any form because I forget to use them, or have no time to use them, or they were for stores I don’t frequent. I have a wallet stuffed with Starbucks cards, and I avoid Starbucks. To me, gift cards are the lazy man’s way of gift giving, as little thought goes into getting that “special” gift. With a large family, we have begun drawing names for stockings with a price limit, so each stocking is stuffed uniquely, instead of mass-filled with the same stuff. Because almost every member of our family has different dietary limitations, no edible gifts are encouraged. Since my kids are grown, we do pick from Amazon wish lists. With children scattered across the United States, with access to different shopping options, it makes the purchasing easier. We will be traveling for Christmas for the first time, and must deal with airline baggage fees. We may order our gifts online and have then delivered to the destination for free, and wrap them after we arrive, but we will have gifts to open under the tree. FYI: Rotating children’s toys works. I cleaned our my grandson’s toy area while I was there helping with his newborn sister. He saw his long-forgotten puzzles, and started playing with them again. Now they are his favorite toys, and puzzles are on his wish list for this year.

  50. Chris November 4, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Great point and suggestions! Thank you for sharing. I’d add theater tickets to your list of suggestions even for kids.

  51. Melanie November 4, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    This year we are doing a family trip to a log house (14 of us). I will still give all the grandkids the traditional Christmas jammies. 🙂 In the last few years we have done the museum or zoo membership thing. Lasts throughout the whole year.

  52. Tina November 4, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    I totally understand the problem of having alot of “stuff” of the children. But it is their “stuff”. I do feel like this is more a mommy problem. The children need to be taught the art of receiving and giving gifts of course. But so do the parents. People give to your children out of the goodness of their hearts and the spirit of the holiday season. Parents, in my opinion, need to learn the same. It is about the children, not you. They love to receive and open their gifts. That’s what all the excitement is about. Accept the gifts in the spirit they were given. When they no longer play with them, donate them to a women’s shelter or similar needy place that would love to have them. I agree, you have some great alternate ideas. But since when has it become polite to dictate what someone else will give you. I think it is in poor taste and sounds unappreciative and controlling. Let the children enjoy and love Christmas without controlling it from behind the scenes.

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:17 am #

      Actually my children have a really hard time with the hype about gifts and the influx of gifts. They do not enjoy opening so many but are pressured to keep opening even when they are done. And it does not take many gifts to become “done.” Come on! We have all seen this in little kids. They get overstimulated. Too much is too much! And it often is way short of what a month or two of Christmas shopping on the part of loving gift-givers has set in front of them. As a parent, I want to be able to give my child a magical christmas. I understand that’s what grandparents want, too. But I’m the parent and it’s up to me to set boundaries. Maybe try to understand that what seems to you as controlling is not for the reasons you think. I’m setting some boundaries to both keep Christmas magical, protect their sensibility and ability to appreciate gifts, and thinking of the long run and the environment in which they are living and the longer term problem of clutter and overstimulation. Let’s not forget that we’re all in this spot because of advertising over the course of fifty years. There is no necessary correlation between love, joy, and wrapping paper!

  53. Audrey November 4, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    A Friendly life suggestion. Since the writer included ‘grandparents’ in this article, this grandma has a voice. My thoughts: I’m hearing what she wrote…but questioning how much she follows her advice herself. My thinking is simple…Add a toy??? Subtract a toy! Why are you keeping four sets of toy ‘keys’ in the first place? As a Grandma I believe: Presence…has always been better than ‘presents’. Adventure trips…better than ‘things’. ‘Free fun’ is still out there! Last Surprises, are better than expecting to be ‘given things’. My generation looks at this article very different. My way of thinking has also got me into serious trouble. I was raised by parents who lived through the depression. I don’t believe I was raised poorly nor my children raised poorly by me to always desire the concept of more. Yet, somehow my giving ‘enough’ is never ‘enough’ and boundaries are looked at as being crossed. If the ‘givings’ the writer desires be given, then teach the child that one thing is all they get for the year! Unwinding what society said people want verses truly need is the web of life we are caught in! I believe I was a first to refuse to BUY a trophy for my child…I was told ‘he will be the only one to not get one’. Society does not rule me. The writer wants to take a stand against too much stuff, yet she wants something quite a lot bigger given to ‘her’ for herself and then for ‘her’ children! It is still the thinking concept of more of something else makes us happy! Unhurried time is the best gift to give anyone! Continue to allow God to direct you be the best mom you can!

    • Gail November 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

      I, as a grandmother, agree with you. Let’s change the mindset….you do not “deserve”anything…..appreciate what is given to you……holidays are much about nothing……let’s be spontaneous with gift-giving and adventures! There is actually teaching in the Bible not to observe special days and seasons as the pagans do.

      • Brenda November 5, 2016 at 7:14 am #

        I totally agree with Audrey and Gail. I too am a grandmother. I enjoy giving at Christmas and try to get ideas from my daughter for gifts. Christmas is the time for giving and sharing. I think the writer and a lot of others have forgotten this.

        • Cindi November 6, 2016 at 8:28 am #

          I don’t think the writer is truly being unkind and ungracious, and I don’t think the article was aimed solely at grandparents, though I can see how it can come across that way. I do think that the grandparents’ generation experienced different things, one of which was the quality and usability of the gifts they received vs. the cheapness (i.e., flimsy plastic vs. wood or lead-filled-painted stuff from China vs. something YOUR grandparents made that would last).

          In Florida, we don’t have much storage space at all. Being close to sea level, very few people have basements and although we do have attics, the heat of our summer months will destroy pretty much everything except Christmas decorations. 😛

          I also don’t think the writer is saying that grandparents should not get gifts for their grandchildren, but maybe just pause and make sure it is what you really want to give them. Your generation didn’t have the excessive advertising that this generation of kids has. Millions of dollars are spent on studies to see how companies can guilt or entice grandparents to spend money on their grandchildren.

          Spending money on them is by NO MEANS a bad thing, but psychology shows that we don’t value things that we have too many of. Case in point: a doctor friend said that he had three Hot Wheels cars when he was a kid. That’s all they could afford. He cherished those so much. His son has more than 300, and doesn’t care about them much at all.

          I think, and I could be wrong, that the point of the article is more along the lines of “just because we CAN buy a bunch of stuff doesn’t necessarily mean we SHOULD.” And that’s not ungrateful. It is simply looking at character building and the reality of space available. I don’t know what kind of house the author lives in, but as I am the 3rd of 7 kids, we had to share rooms. There simply was not space to store tons of toys. If the writer has a 3 br, 2 bath house that is so typical these days, I totally understand the space issue. I don’t think she’s ungrateful.

          If she is anything like me, she feels somewhat guilty getting rid of things her children have received as gifts, hence the four different sets of keys in the picture.

          My kids received Christmas gifts from us (parents), grandparents, neighbors, neighbor kids, church people, and even our FedEx driver. I cut back over and over and over, but being a new parent, I didn’t exactly know what I was doing, either, so I try to cut younger parents a lot of slack.

          This has been a good discussion. Thank you to all who have written for sharing your hearts in a civil and helpful way.

  54. Mary Jo November 4, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Give a gift of travel. We purchase airline gift cards (online) for our grown children and granddaughters, so they can enjoy a lifetime of wonderful memories of family vacations. It’s exciting to watch Mom & dad and the girls choose and plan their trip that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Disney also sells gift cards online and you can have them mailed directly to the children or grandchildren. None of these gift cards expire and I keep a folder with copies of the gift cards, in case they should get misplaced in a busy, young family household.

  55. Katie November 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    I put my son’s toys in large bins. Every week we rotate out/in the bins so there are only 2 bins of toys out at a time. Legos in one, wooden blocks in another, matchbox cars, large vehicles, fire trucks, … Each in a separate bin. I never ever allow toys in his room. Bedrooms are for sleeping and quiet activities, like reading. My son is really creative, combining the bin contents in some new way. Cleanup is easy – just 2 bins’ worth. I work from home, homeschooling. My son is never bored or overwhelmed.

  56. Jill November 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Every year in the Fall, we would have a garage sale and my kids would gather up toys they no longer played with. The money earned from the garage sale would pay for tickets to an amusement park or go toward a game system they wanted( because Santa does not bring electronics!) and they looked forward to this and it greatly reduced clutter. Sometimes we would also donate toys to kids who were less fortunate.

  57. Anna c November 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Last year we decided EARLY that we would make our gifts for each other. They still got some purchased gifts from mom & dad, one of which was an event (professional dance performance, baseball game, gymnastics competition, day at children’s museum an hour away). We made: Lego carrying case from pencil box, doll clothing, bean bag toss spinning bullseye, bookmarks, hand drawn art-lovingly framed, gourmet hot chocolate mix, brooch, upcycled nightstand and pencil jar. The kids were way more excited to see the recipient’s reaction to their time-intensive gift than they were in getting stuff. We had a peaceful non-competitive season. (Note: clear your schedule to allow time for this. It was rewarding, but mom & dad did a lot of sanding, painting & sewing to help the givers along)

  58. Meg November 4, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    Also, to help with holidays — I tell my girls that because we are so fortunate and they have Mommy and Daddy and lots of family members who buy for them, that I’ve asked Santa to put them on an extra special list. The special list is where they fill out their “wish list” to the poem “Something you want, something you need, something you wear, something to read” and instead of getting tons of gifts, they get really nice ones from Santa. Everything else is from mom and dad and is just extra! Works for us! 🙂

  59. Gail November 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Thanks for an informative blog. I actually am going to use some of your gift ideas. I chringe when I see anyone recommend Starbucks. The owner hates Christ and Christians! Google the comments he has made about not caring what we think and telling Christians that he does NOT care or want their business. Thanks.

  60. Echo November 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    Everything, every word you said has hit home! I’d much rather buy my children at lest one item they very much so want just one… (3 children I have). And then take them to an indoor water park. They love swimming so why not swim in indoor park during the cold months.

  61. Cari November 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    An added bonus for the zoo membership is 50% off at AZA zoos across the country. My daughter loves the zoo and when we go on our family vacations around the country we always go to the local zoo. Example: went to Clearwater, FL for vacation and went to the Lowry Zoo in Tampa (rated #1 in the country) for $32 for our family. It also works for day trips…Zoo Atlanta and Knoxville Zoo are on the list. Love our Chattanooga Zoo and our membership!!

  62. Judy November 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    My 2 granddaughters have birthdays in January so it’s doubly difficult to come up with meaningful gifts. Last yeari gave the9 year old $100 and a world visions catalogue. $20 was for her personal use and the rest was to purchasea gift to give from the catalog. I had talked to her about it in advance and she liked the idea. She ended up buying water filters and books, which she loves, for 3rd world children. May do it again this year! Also have2 year old twin grandsons. To solve party of the problemi don’t buy doubles unless it’s clothes or Thomas the Tank items

  63. Amanda November 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    So many people have missed the point of what the author was trying to say. She is not ungrateful for the people who want to buy her and her family gifts. The suggestions she has offered have been when people asked what to get them.
    For the people staying that these things are expensive, I think she was assuming the giver would combine the gifts. For example, my sister & her husband have 4 children. Rather than buying the 6 of them gifts that they won’t use, I could combine their gift (spending the same amount) and give them a year’s worth of zoo fun (something my nephews and niece have enjoyed since they were babies).
    The author wasn’t being ungrateful for people’s thoughtfulness, merely suggesting things that would last longer which it seems the gift giver asked for suggestions.
    Also, the author stated that the family does donate things to the less fortunate. And another commenter is correct, many charities (toys for tots) ask for the gifts to be new and unwrapped when donating.
    II would much rather give the children in my life things that could be used for the entire year vs a toy that they just had to have that’s forgotten in two days.
    I’m not saying not to buy the children toys but there has to be a line drawn (I’ve seen the over-purchasing of gifts and while it may be fun for a moment, they ultimately are cast aside). That’s all the author was saying. She wasn’t trying to be a grinch and take her kids’ fun away.
    I’m a new mom myself and I will definitely be making the same suggestions. And for all the negative people, it’s her opinion…if you don’t like it, then don’t use it!

  64. Christin November 4, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    Oh so true! I thoroughly enjoyed your article, you made superb points!

  65. Charlotte Dobies November 4, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    Keep talking . We can’t here you. lol Grandma’s everywhere are not listening.Let us give

  66. Veronica November 4, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    I love this. Connecting time is such a great gift.

    For adults, have you heard of Trades of Hope? We provide jobs for women in 16 countries around the world and are part of empowering them out of poverty. They create beautiful bags, jewelry, home decor, and more!

    My site is http://www.giftsthatempower.com if you’d like tho help spread the word!

  67. Kimberly Augustine November 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

    Love this! Mom of four boys too, and yes I’m exhausted too, no I’m not going to try for that girl, yes I have my hands full… but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Four blessings ?
    I hope you have a relaxing holiday season this year!

  68. shawn November 4, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    We have gone to regifting and using Amazon.com. You can post a gift list with very specific items which are shipped for free if they are on the Prime list. Regifting is good because it forces you to really consider if the person will use the item. if not, we get rid of it or donate it
    .

  69. Cynthia November 4, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

    YES! We just moved & my 4 year old daughter had a small box of toys for about 6 weeks while we boxed & stored things in preparation. It was AMAZING! She & I didn’t fight as much. The house was kept tidy. I saw her using her imagination so much more. We engaged with each other. I have made a promise to not unbound most of the toys. We’re donating them & my daughter is onboard. She doesn’t like being overwhelmed any more than I do.

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:22 am #

      YES this is SO TRUE!!!!

  70. Stephanie November 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    Do we have too much? Yes. Is it okay to tell people what to buy, when, how much, not to buy or what instead? Only if they ask. If it gives someone joy to give, let them. Be grateful. Stop mentally giving people your registry. If our kids have too much, it’s probably because we gave it to them.

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:36 am #

      This is a huge miscommunication that is made really hard to undo because of etiquette. As a parent it could totally sound like I’m giving someone my registry. In fact, I’m just working within the bounds that you are going to spend money, because you’ve made that clear. I’ve expressed my reasons of why I’d like to keep Christmas simpler. But that falls on deaf ears. So I’m trying to keep it positive by making suggestions that will enable you to still do the giving of the magnitude you want to do and not go against what I’m OK with my child having. I’d rather do that than say, please do not give them electronics; we are struggling with screen time and do not wish them to have individual electronics yet. Please do not give them play sets that glorify violent role playing but that toy makers have convinced us is mainstream and normal (and which you bought for your own kids so you also think is fine); we have a lot of that already and really do not want to perpetuate it. Please do not give them the books you keep buying them which are also just about fighting and smashing things and taking revenge; these are not the values we wish to teach them.

  71. Cathryn November 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

    I really could not agree more, however, when our 5 children were small my parents, especially, my mother were prone to overbuy those small,useless, underused toys and STUFF. Knowing mom did not have much money I let her do it with no complaint, I knew neither if my parents would live to see my children into adulthood, I just did not want to take away this small joy. Both parents died of cancer before my oldest was 10. I always clear away a lot of stuff before Christmas and let the kids help choose what goes. As they have gotten older they give without being told. I remember needing jeans for my first four (boys) but I knew mom would show up with 6 smaller items instead which is OK, I CV taught them the value of stuff verses hurting feelings, thx

  72. Marie November 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    l totally agree. My mother would put money into an account for all of the grandkids. She would give each child an envelop on Christmas that showed how much she had deposited into their account and the value of account at that point in time. Kids didn’t always understand what a great gift it was then, but ask my daughter now, who graduated last year from college and was able to use that money to offset most of her college debt, just how WONDERFUL it was. Kids get so much stuff that they don’t get to enjoy hardly any of it. Open gift, throw in pile, open gift, throw in pile. We are giving magazine subscriptions to nieces and nephews this year so they can enjoy throughout the year.

  73. Jessica Adams November 4, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

    Too many toys in our house finally inspired me to write my children’s books about The Underground Toy Society. Toys help toys in need find new homes when there are too many toys in the house or the toys are outgrown or forgotten.

  74. Inez November 4, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

    Instead of spending money on each other, how about planning an outing with your extended family and going “Dutch Treat”? A day at the children’s museum together. An afternoon sledding or at the skating rink. Taking an older child to a play or to a paint a pot or plate place or whatever. Maybe planning a family morning of giving and working together at a local charity and then converging at home for a SIMPLE meal of sandwiches and brownies.

    Sometimes the holidays feel like such a financial obligation. I would enjoy it more if it were time spent together, a memory made.

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:27 am #

      Me too!! By far. And it would enrich the kids lives so much more than another toy!

  75. Dena November 5, 2016 at 3:46 am #

    As a divorced mom of 2 little ones and always short of money, my children needed clothing! They were quite happy receiving new Christmas jammies, the one present they got to open Christmas eve, clothing and a pair of new shoes if thew were growing out of theirs. A special toy or item they had asked Santa for was also included. With our own little Christmas, another with their dad”s family, and then one with all of mine, they got plenty of toys. We passed along clothing and toys to the younger children in the family or to friends with younger children.
    We did the same thing for birthdays. And my kids always welcomed gently used items from other family and friends. They learned early about the benefit of shopping sales. Gift cards weren’t the norm back then but they still got to go to movies occasionally, the local kiddie park for rides, skating rink, caverns, parks, and camping! They may not have had everything their little hearts desired, but they were loved, happy and healthy.

  76. Bethany November 5, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    Oh my goodness!!! This is a breath of fresh air! I feel EXACTLY the same way every year! I have three boys and our house is 1800 sq feet. 5 people in 1800 sq feet? I love your gift suggestions for kids. I make the same suggestions to grandparents every year and we still get “stuff” in addition to said suggestions. Thank you for this article, my exact sentiments! Oddly enough I’m sitting in a Sleep Inn in Chattanooga (we live in Nashville) reading this over breakfast, on our way to a swim meet?

  77. Candace Ranspot November 5, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Maybe you could take all of the toys your kids don’t use anymore and donate them to charity and make room for new gifts. Teach them about giving and make room. That way you don’t offend any family or friends that just love your child and like to see them happy on Christmas.

  78. Kathy November 5, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    I agree with Mom of 3 above, Christmas is our special day. I never bought my kids gifts during the year. Ask them! Christmas was the day they got those wish lists, but I also wrapped socks, underwear, and toiletries. One time I filled all of their Stockings with the gifts I had gifted to Samaratan’s Purse instead. They still laugh about that. And yes they have all grown up to be loving, giving adults. Let Kids have their Christmas in Moderation and remind them whose birthday it really is!!

  79. Yolanda November 5, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    I want to give a shout out the wonderful grandparents in our lives, my mom and in-laws. My mom gives each child one gift and in exchange asks us to buy a gift for same aged needy children and donate as our gift to her. My in-laws have always kept it simple, just 3 or 4 gifts the kids want, usually including something to wear, something to read, something for fun, and a game or something to make. The best thing they do is spend one day each to bake Christmas cookies and TG pies with the kids, which really takes the pressure of the holidays off me and my husband. Even as teens, the kids love pie day and cookie day with Gma and Gpa.

  80. Sheila November 5, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    For my son it might be a lifetime fishing license, zoo membership, gun safety/shooting lessons, etc.

    Great idea!

  81. Mother of 3 November 5, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    I’ve been saying this for years; asking for family members for these ideas for years; and dreading the holidays since my kids were old enough to understand what it means. Compounded by the fact that my kids had 4 sets of grandparents and 6 sets of great grand parents often found us leaving a party with (NO JOKE!) a pickup truck full of toys for 3 kids. I often sent the kids to bed and took the new, unopened toys and set at least 1/2 aside to donate at toys for tots or to gift off to other children & friends throughout the year. Luckily as my kids have gotten older it has gotten better but I am all about gifting experiences but honestly it is often cheaper and easier to just buy more toys…. and I get that. I try to remember that these years wont last forever and family members are trying to make the holidays wonderful for us all.

  82. Laura November 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    This definitely reads as a mom who sees and deals with too much stuff….It’s not about you. You want them to have jeans and you don’t want to pay for the movies. I understand not taking the Christ out of Christmas but don’t deny your kids and people who do enjoy buying presents their happiness because you see it as stuff and it inconveniences you. My MIL enjoys giving baby dolls… I can’t stand baby dolls but it makes her happy to pick a pretty one and give it to a little girl because she never had one growing up. I let her give my daughter dolls. It means a lot to her and I need to put myself aside.

  83. Angela Sheahan November 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    My last post was deleted. I’m sorry if I offended you but maybe you should spend some time volunteering, donating to charity and learning about the spirit of giving. Your list of expensive gift ideas is ludicrous.

    • Chattanooga Moms Blog
      Chattanooga Moms Blog November 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

      The author does not have the access to delete comments only the administrator. CMB does not allow name-calling or attacks on the author. If you have a difference in opinion that is fine, but stating false comments about her will not be allowed. If you are purchasing gifts for a family of 6, one membership would be less than that cost. That obviously varies from parts of the country, but we live in the southeast where the cost of living may be less than other areas.

    • Julie November 7, 2016 at 12:24 am #

      Different people spend different amounts. Some grandparents have a lot of money to spend and are going to spend it.

  84. Sue Black November 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    I read this original post and subsequent replies with great interest and pleasure. In the UK many 3rd World charities operate a ‘gift for life’ scheme, where an amount is sent to the charity, and your recipient simply receives a thank you card, explaining that they have provided, for example, school supplies, or bee-hives, or a water-well, a goat, or chickens, for an underprivileged family in, say Africa or elsewhere. Kids love the idea of getting a goat for Christmas, especially if it’s for someone less fortunate than themselves.

  85. Katie November 5, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    Yes!! I’m telling our family no toys this year. We also have 4 boys (and 1 girl) and don’t have any room for another Thomas the train, batman figure, transformer or lego!! They’re getting stuff they can use like monogrammed beach towels, fishing poles for when we camp, ice skates etc…. love this article!

  86. Britt November 5, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    I am seriously by no means trying to be rude at all… Please don’t take offense.. I am just wondering what exactly is too much stuff? This will be my daughters 2nd Christmas, she will be 1 December 4th. I wish I could get her more things than the 4 little things that I still haven’t payed off in walmarts seasonal layaway. We don’t have alot of family that actually cares.. We are not well off at all… I think it would be nice if someone wanted to buy my daughter some things… She deserves so much more than we can afford. I guess its a situational thing.

    • Susan November 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

      Yes, certainly a first world problem when we complain about having too much! Christmas is all about a special family day, put some tinsel around the house and a nice meal and a play at the park and she’ll love it, especially at her age. We all want more for our kids but going into debt to give her gifts won’t be appreciated by her and will just stress you out. If she has a happy mum and dad she’s got more than a lot of kids out there, regardless of how many trinkets they have – have a lovely Christmas!

    • bree November 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

      Dear Britt, growing up, after my dad left, we were very poor (but I didn’t realize it then) and had no relatives giving gifts. We didn’t have many toys, but we always got something small that we really wanted for Christmas. I had 2 little dolls I loved and waited for and took them everywhere with me. We made pretend fishing rods with sticks we found in the wood and would tie string to them when we were older. My dolls came along. We really had a lot of fun imaginary play especially outside. I remember when we got a portable chalkboard and how much fun we had with that-playing games, playing school, guessing drawing games, tic tac toe, hangman, etc. I never realize how poor we were. We lived in a house that was so cold and old that we all slept in one room in the winter and ran to the one bathroom and back. We thought it was fun! From my experience, I’d say the best gift you can give your daughter is another sibling if that is in your plan. 🙂 Do not worry about her not having enough things. Visit the library each week for a stack of beautiful picture books and activites, and when she is older, you can borrow sweet movies there. Look on craigslist or gently used stores for toys that will allow her to build and create-like blocks and later Lego type bricks and a few pretty and comfortable clothes. Try out different types of art supplies – crayons, paint, chalk…Have fun! All she really needs is love and an outlet for creativity.

  87. LMacLeod November 5, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    summer passes for a nearby waterpark, ballet clothing she wanted but mom couldn’t afford, swim lessons, were all appreciated by my various aged grandchildren from infant to 13. Gifts that kept on giving- days at the waterpark they otherwise would not have gotten to, swim lessons a skill for life, ballet clothes that were worn for a whole year of lessons much better than legos to trip on! well loved by all and yes clothes the grandkids picked out that mom and dad would not normally splurge on! I remember with much love the fact that my MIL would buy snowsuits and winter jackets for mine when they were little They looked forward to Granma’s gift always wondering what color or style she would pick for them!

  88. Elaine Richard November 5, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

    Well said. And…”Thank You”, I’d never heard of Kiwi Crate before – sounds like a great gift idea!!! (Ontario, Canada)

  89. Tonia November 6, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    I love this idea! If I can only get the grandparents on board Christmas will be much more exciting for the Mommy! I have 4 boys as well (9,6,4 & 2) and normally when they open gifts I think things like “where can I hide that so that my 2 yo doesn’t choke on those pieces?” or “great that should make it to the bottom of the toy box within the next 10 minutes”. We have made a habit before Christmas each year of getting rid of unused toys and donating them which helps some but overall we have way too much junk. Wish me luck as I present some of your ideas to my children’s grandparents!

  90. Missy November 6, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    We have two teenage boys and we decided when they were toddlers that they would get three gifts each because Jesus received 3 gifts. That helped to minimize the craziness of the holiday gift frenzy.
    Several years ago we decided that their birthdays would be the time for them to receive gifts but for Jesus’s birthday we would focus on giving to those in need because you are right – we don’t need any more stuff. But many families need essentials so that’s what we do for Christmas- focus on others need, not what we may ‘want’ temporarily.

  91. Susie November 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    I asked people not to give me anything this year. When my husband asked I told him art supplies and maybe art lessons. I sponsor pets from my favorite rescue for the pet lovers in my life and for adults I give to their favorite charity.

  92. glenda November 7, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    I was offended with my comments were taken off. I don’t think I said half of what the others said were bad. My daughter thinks just like you do and I am the girls mimi. My daughter thought it was so much fun to get 8 or 10 things because she didn’t get any toys all year. Why does she now think because she does not want to pick up after them. After all she wanted these children and we shouldd give a little of our time picking up after them.

  93. AEJ November 7, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    While I kinda agree about the kids stuff…(with the caveat that,while I’m all for getting things the kids will actually want over junk, what the kids want and what the parents want them to want often diverge) Case in point the botanical gardens membership someone gave us last year that sits on the desk, still completely unused by me or my teens.
    THE adult part cracked me up. Go ahead, get your in-laws an appointment with a personal trainer! roflmao, THAT WILL GO OVER HUGE! Nothing says “Merry Christmas!” Like inferring someone is overweight and out of shape!!!! Conversely, I do love me a Starbucks card!

  94. Keri November 7, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I just spent the last two days cleaning stuff out. I sold several items, have a bunch to give away, and threw out a ton of broken junk. What I would really like for the kids are family memberships. I want one to the science museum, and the zoo. They all need clothes. The one thing I actually plan to buy is a comforter to match my daughter’s new sheets. That is all. They don’t need any more junk, no more electronics, certainly no more toys.

  95. Theresa November 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    The most favourite thing my kids get is the gift of time.

    I have two kids and they have many aunts and uncles and we have ended up with gifts still unopened by the time the next Christmas rolls around and it’s just sickening.

    Then my kids started getting time. Either a day or an overnight for just them. An aunt or uncle takes them and them only and they go to the park, zoo, skating, shopping, a movie….whatever that kid is into. They love having a special day for just them that they don’t have to share with another sibling or cousins and get to do things that we don’t often have time for. We get a break too.

    This is worth more to them than the latest toy.

  96. Fred November 7, 2016 at 10:11 pm #

    Just wanna say MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!!!!!!!!! Have a MERRY MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

  97. Carmony Daw November 8, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    As granparents we believe in getting the things that matter and last. We always but clothes, but we also add to our outdoor families needs. Hunting gear, life time hunting & fishing license for the kids before they are two. Things they are sure to enjoy and use. We got our grandson a fishing pole and fishin box last year. The little stink caught the biggest fish all summer. He was so excited! He sees the pic on grandmas phone and shows everyone “his first fish”. The memories and time spent with him are a million times better than any toy we could have given him.

  98. Natty November 8, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    Maybe I’m an anomaly here, I come from a big family, it’s very appreciated when anything is given because it is rare.
    I also go through our stuff regularly and declutter or even pack up old things and bring them out again when the younger child is ready to enjoy it.
    I don’t feel overwhelmed by it and I know it sounds silly, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have so many things given to my children that we didn’t need to get things ourselves.

  99. Al November 9, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

    I wonder what exactly you buy your children? Are they toys? Are you just making a list of what you’d like? What does Santa deliver?

  100. AZMom November 12, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Okay, please realize that not everyone is like you. I gave presents to siblings’ children many years, and only once did my children receive a present from my siblings. I gave well researched presents that they appreciated. I rarely receive presents as an adult. I asked a boyfriend once for Christmas to paint (or have painted) my living room. He bought me a cashmere sweater in the exact style and color of one I had. I accepted it graciously and wore it. We don’t always get what we want even when it is communicated. Some families are concerned about treatment of animals in zoos. Ask first before getting a zoo membership.

  101. Susan November 13, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    I don’t have any children of my own yet but I do buy for my friend’s four children – I’ve never bought them toys (out of respect for my friend trying to manage six people in a three bedroom house) but even practical things can be special, ie. one of her girls LOVES cats so if I see some piece of clothing or something practicalish during the year with that theme I’ll buy it ready for her birthday or Christmas. One year I bought all four kids a beach towel each, one less thing that mum has to buy and I spent AGES choosing just the right one for each child. With the oldest boy (16) I’ll take him shopping so he can choose his own clothes but its a nice one on one time spent with the child.

    Their family tradition for birthdays is that each child gets to have a one on one evening with mum or dad – usually a movie, dinner where they want. Its something the kids look forward to the most and plan ahead what movie they’re going to see and where they’re going to eat.

    If a child is starting school in the next year you could buy them their school bag or stationery, if they’ve just got their licence buy them a petrol card, if they’ve taken up a sport or activity buy the shoes/uniform/fees. The gifts are still special for the children and are also a help for the parents, win-win!

  102. Stacey November 16, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    I think what was missing from this article was the perspective of the gift-giver (as shown in some of the comments). Family and friends aren’t trying to fill your house with useless ‘stuff,’ but trying to find something they know the kids will want so they can see the excitement on their faces, especially with younger kids who may not appreciate the value of a gift card for swimming lessons or, in all honesty, not seeing the enjoyment of the kids at the zoo, theater or park because the parents took them. That being said, I’ve taken the approach of giving the gift of an experience with the kids in my family (trip to the zoo, mani/pedi day for the girls). It solves all issues: 1) no clutter or “useless” stuff, 2) allows me to see my nieces enjoyment when they experience and 3) makes memories between the 2 of us. Granted, this works bc my nieces family isn’t in a position where they don’t have the funds to do the activities as a family. I know this isn’t the case for everyone.

  103. Linde December 7, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    Please don’t try to shame the grandmas that enjoy buying actual things for their grandchildren. Especially when they acknowledge what is given can be disposed of at will.

    It is appropriate to suggest what you may prefer to receive if asked or have a honest discussion 2-3 months before the holiday before presents are purchased. It is very appropriate to be gracious when receiving any gift and not berate the giver that it is not an experience.

    I am posting this as someone who has been sorting through a lifetime of accumulation and recognizes people are more important than things. If you state people are more important then why would you shame someone and make them defensive about buying your child(res) a gift(s) and risk hurting their feelings. I love the idea of experiences and detest the thought of suggesting to anyone they are wrong in what they freely give from their heart.

  104. Sheila B January 15, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    Wow, reading these replies are like a tug a war contest or a nasty debate. I am a grandmother and appreciate this article and suggestions. I don’t think the author is trying to shame anyone but reasonably voicing some good suggestions (not requirements).
    I remember when my now grown kids were children. My mom would surprise them with big machine sounding loud toys to keep at her house (not at Christmas). After she had about 3 days of hearing her grandkids play with those toys that totally annoyed her (reminder: toys she bought them), she would insist that I bring the toys to my house. This was a repeated thing. At Christmas she bought them collectibles that they couldn’t play with. She would ask me what they wanted. But I kind of think she didn’t like their list (a non- expensive list) because she would end up getting what she wanted them to have (collectibles). Lol. I love my mom, but my children did not understand what the collectibles were for. My sister still has all the collectibles bought for her child but I have a small box of the ones bought for mine. They are grown and didn’t want any of that “stuff” as they call it then and now. The thing is we are all different and what one wants or likes isn’t the same as the other. So on to the topic of Christmas ornaments…. I am not a fan of buying someone an ornament to decorate their tree as well as a decoration for their house. If I get one more Christmas ornament as a gift I may go into a deep depression. I have been given so many hand made ornaments, collectibles, baby 1st items, etc. that I realize if I put them all on my Christmas tree it would not be my tree. It would be the tree everyone else wanted me to have. I think it’s like telling someone how to decorate their house. Lol. But some folks love getting yearly ornament gifts. I totally respect you and admire you! I did get a set of look alike ornaments with names on them this year and didn’t have the heart to hurt feelings so I placed them randomly on one of my Christmas scene shelves and they were really cute. I think I am going to hang them at various lengths from a window next year. Yeah, I’m learning to be creative which keeps “happy” in the house!
    So I’m sure someone will think I am non-appreciative and don’t understand that gifts are from the heart. Yes I do understand that gifts are from the heart. My husband and I ask our kids for specific clothes sizes and specific clothing items they want as well as other things they wish for. Same with grandkids. We ask for lists long enough that they won’t know which items they will really get (afterall, we can’t buy it all). And we do always give one gift they will know nothing about but try to pay attention and make it something they’ve been wanting that isn’t on their list. And we always give a gift receipt with it. They know we don’t care if they exchange it. We also like to include one family gift such as a movie basket with a few movies, popcorn etc.
    Ya just never can tell what really works! But we do always remember for us it’s about love and celebration of the higher above!

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