It’s important to teach children contentment, moderation, and definitely imagination. It’s fighting an uphill battle in our American culture! Most of the toys sold in toy stores these days, do everything for us, no need to make noises for vehicles or talk for baby dolls, even the toy phones have someone on the “other end” talking back at us.
Even if we’re picky about what toys we purchase, many other people in our lives are not on the same page. And what do you do if friends and family tend to shower an overabundance of gifts upon our young ones?
Here are 11 ways to get them on board with limited gifts:
- Talk to them about it. Share that you do want what is best for your children and remind them that having everything we want, or having excess isn’t promoting anything good in the children. As humans, we are not satisfied with more. Let them know that you are very grateful for all they have done, but, wish to make sure the kids don’t become ungrateful. When children have an overabundance, they do become ungrateful. We’re all guilty of it, it’s not just a kid thing. It’s part of being human. The grass is always greener mentality. Perhaps pass on this great article from Becoming Minimalist: Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids An easy way to share gift preferences is with Amazon wish lists or similar sites, so you can simply share a link with friends and family without feeling like you are controlling or insensitive.
- Ask for time gifts. Request a cookbook and ingredients for a dinner, along with a date to cook together. Request trips to the park, sleepovers, taking the children one night a week so they can play games with grandparents and parents can recharge with some alone time.
- Ask for Experiences. Tickets to a play, concert, dance, or sports event, yearly membership to a zoo, museum, children’s museum, science center.
- Set boundaries. Gently let them know that you want toys that challenge the imagination. No batteries or sets with many little pieces (my exception is lego sets)
- Start a savings account and request the majority of the money go into the child’s savings for a car, college, etc.
- Request items that can be used up: art and craft supplies, food items, etc.
- Suggest they cover the cost of classes/lessons for your child. Music lessons, dance, art classes.
- Request one item per child. This means that thought and quality will go into the purchase of the gift.
- Do combined gifts, where all parties chip in on larger items. Bicycles, swing sets, furniture sets, (cribs for babies, large beds for growing kids, etc)
- Keep the larger toys at their house. If they want to give them larger toys (rocking horses, drum sets, train tables, etc), gently let them know that there is simply not enough room at your home, and it will need to stay at the grandparent’s house and be enjoyed there.
- Have small, intimate birthday parties. Parties with just parents and grandparents are wonderful and any more than that is rather overwhelming. Think The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday. Allow children to invite friends to every 5th birthday. 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years. Have them invite who they want to. For our family, the kids have only ever invited 2 or 3 friends, as more seemed to overwhelm them. On the invitation, specify no gifts necessary, but if they would like to give, keep it to something homemade or crafting items.
What to do if they just won’t stop:
Read The 5 Love Languages. With some people, their love language is giving gifts. In this case, it may hurt feelings if you ask to limit gifts, and they may take it as you rejecting them personally. In this case, request that they read The 5 Love Languages as well, and let them know what love languages each person in your family has and suggestions on what type of gifts will be most appreciated for each person. If your children show and receive love in the form of gifts, then stress consumable and experience gifts. (See suggestions #3, 6 & 7.)
Make an agreement with the children to purge toys and clothing. Give them a week of “enjoying” their new toys and then set a date to sort. Have a limited amount of items (see How to Declutter: Toys) and have the children decide which ones to give away. They may pick from the new toys, or they may pick from the old ones. Whatever the kids decide, allow it. Don’t guilt them into keeping only the new toys.
In the end, don’t feel bad giving away or re-gifting unwanted gifts. Be sure to thank the giver, but understand that it was a gift, which means belongs solely to the receiver and if the receiver decides to do something different with it, that’s okay.