Too Many Toys

Dear yayas,

Christmas has gotten out of control in our house. My parents and ILs buy us WAY too much stuff for our kid. We haven’t even opened or used a few things they gave him from his birthday. But really, we just don’t want the stuff. What would you do or tell people NOW before Christmas to try and get this excessive toy problem under control? I really don’t want to hurt their feelings, so we’re looking for advice now.

– Tired of Toys

Every mom is hearing you loud and clear right now! Ha! Or, at least I am. A few years ago, we started asking for experience gifts for the kids. For example, my MIL doesn’t live in the same town as us but a few summers ago, she gifted my daughter with a day out to the zoo for her birthday when we were visiting. It was perfect! There were memories made, everyone was happy, and no toys to clutter the house or be sent to Goodwill later that year. If your child’s grandparent isn’t close enough to take on an experience, perhaps they would consider paying for a month of gymnastics, the soccer fee for the season, or sending new cleats or a leotard if your child needs those items. I’d suggest if a grandparent does pay for, say, a month of dance, that you make sure your kiddo knows Grandma made this month possible every time you drive to class. I think it’s important to reiterate that to being a sense of gratitude to the activity, since there isn’t a physical item to do that for your child. I also think gifts to children’s museums or a Fro-Yo gift card are great gifts for kids! Older kids and teens might appreciate a gift card to a hip clothing store or a pass to go ice skating or other activity. The options are endless! You could broach the subject excitedly like “Jr. was so excited to see the animals on TV. I think he’d love a trip to the zoo. What a great experience if you gifted him that for Christmas-he’d have a lifetime of memories!” Have fun imagining all the options for your child and his grandparents! – Cortney

I second Cortney’s suggestion of asking for experiences…memberships, money for lessons, etc. We homeschool so I like to ask for nice materials to support our school efforts. The best you can do is suggest and hope for the best. If you get unwanted gifts, donate them or re-gift to friends who could use and appreciate them. – Lori Beth

I am in the same position! We are making an Amazon wish list with our four year old this year and sending it out to close family. Hopefully, this helps us not get too much or multiple items that are too similar. We are also going to create a short list of tickets or seasonal passes (aquarium, local jumping gym for tots, local art or dance class series etc.) that we know our children would love to attend. Our hope is that relatives purchase one toy and an activity pass instead of multiple toys. Maybe this idea will work for you too! Best of luck and happy holidays. – Bernie

The good news is that you’re not alone in this tricky situation – and the good news is that you have two sets of well-meaning grandparents who like to shop for their grandchild. I understand the desire for less toys, more practical gifts, and feeling like money is being wasted on these unnecessary toys. I would offer alternatives to the grandparents, and then the ball is in their court as to whether or not they take the ideas. If they aren’t receptive to your suggestions, there’s not much else you can do except make the best out of the situation. Consider donating some of the toys and let go of the stress surrounding them. Keep the love that is given with the gifts and get rid of anything else that doesn’t serve you. – Diana

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