Holiday Gift Overload!

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So, we got through the holidays but now what can we do with all of this stuff?!

One of the most common issues I run into with my clients, and in my own life, is how to handle the overflow of kid stuff. We all want our kids to have a stimulating array of books and toys, but it can quickly get out of control. As a former pre-school teacher, I know that kids really don’t need much to fuel their creativity, and it is up to us, the parents, to edit what comes into our homes.

My family lives in a two bedroom flat, and we have to limit what enters our house or we would drown in it! This year, we were given an insane amount of clothing, toys and books for the holidays and we found ourselves without enough room to store everything. I decided to talk to my two-year old about it and try to strike a deal. I explained that we needed to pick our favorite things to keep but that we could donate some of the other items to her preschool or to kids who didn’t have any toys. Much to my surprise and delight she was on board immediately and started sorting her toys frantically! Soon, she had selected a tea set and some blocks to give to her school and a stack of books and toys to donate to other children. The whole thing was so quick and easy and the process taught her a valuable lesson about making choices and helping others.

I realize it won’t always be so easy and wanted to brainstorm other ways to get the inflow of stuff under control.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. For holidays and birthdays ask for “experience” presents instead of tangible gifts: A membership to the Discovery Museum or Studio Grow, dance, music or gymnastic classes or a gift card to the movies are all great presents and they take up zero space in your home.

2. Ask people to make gifts to your favorite charity or non-profit in the name of your child. You can involve your child to research options that appeal to them on a personal level. This option makes the child feel like they are having a positive impact on the world and teaches them about social responsibility.

3. Have a cooking themed birthday party. Skip the gifts and have each kid bring their favorite ingredient: pizza, sundae or cupcake toppings are fun treats. My daughter would give up her left arm for sugar and might not even notice the lack of gifts.

4. If people must buy gifts, urge them to go for books. It is always great to expand your little reader’s library and books take up far  less real estate then other games or toys.

5. The collaborative gift: Instead of lots of small items, urge your child to select one very special gift for the holidays. Friends and relatives can pool their money towards one big-ticket item that your child will treasure.

Have other ideas on how to live well with less stuff? Please share!

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