Are you trying to find a way to give gifts without adding additional clutter and chaos? We have adopted a minimalist gift giving approach and found it to be great in easing entitlement!
Are you breathing a sigh of relief that the Christmas gift giving is over, or are you now overwhelmed with the additional clutter that was brought in over the holidays? Do you cringe at the thought of repeating this scenario over and over throughout the year with each and every birthday? We tried a few new things this Christmas that we LOVED and are excited to incorporate some new tricks to birthday gifts this year as well!
Before Christmas, we gathered our kids together in the ever-messy toy room and had them look around. They were tired of cleaning it up, and I was tired of trying to convince them to clean it up. We sorted everything and then asked the kids if there was anything that they would be willing to give to other kids that didn’t have as many toys. We sold or donated every toy that was unanimously agreed upon. The older kids went through their personal toys and sold whatever they no longer enjoyed playing with as well.
I was hesitant to do this at first, wondering if the kids would experience any seller’s remorse. Not even close. They were thrilled to have money of their own, and I have yet to hear a single complaint about selling their things.
In the past, I have sorted through the toy room on my own and sold or donated things. I still hear about “that time when I sold (fill in the blank)”. It is so much better to put it out in the open and have your children be part of feeling generous. You may also be surprised how many of the toys YOU are actually holding on to, when they don’t really care for it!
Ask yourself: What can I get rid of to make room for new gifts?
Pick Your Holidays
In our family, we have separated holidays out into family and personal holidays when it comes to gifts. For Christmas, most all of the gifts are family gifts. Each child receives one toy-type present, and then shoes, clothing, and whatever other needs they have. The main focus on gifts at Christmas is on gifts that can be used as a family. Birthdays are where we focus more on the individual person. They receive a fun gift or two and a one-on-one date with a parent.
By limiting the amount of personal toys, our kids tend to play together more instead of locking themselves away to play solo. There are still issues with sharing, but I feel that they are drastically reduced by having most things as family items. Seeing as how Christmas is really a holiday focused on the one who has made it so our family can be together forever, we focus on the family. A birthday is to celebrate that individual, so showering them with personal gifts on that day just makes sense.
Ask yourself: How can I limit the abundance of things from gift giving?
Receiving gifts can be a little nerve wracking as a child. You know what you hope to get, but you don’t always get those things. You also have a laundry list of culturally accepted manners that you are expected to follow: Look pleased even if you’re not, don’t mention that you already have one of that item, etc. To remove the stress of this, we have decided to do Amazon Wish Lists for gift ideas this year. The grandparents, friends, etc. then have a list of items that the kids have already mentioned that they desire to have.
With a wish list, grandparents and other gift givers are able to choose a gift they know the gift receiver will enjoy. They are also able to then all pitch in a bit of money to purchase a larger item. If none of these ideas is appealing, what kid doesn’t love to receive money as a gift. Lately, we have been focusing on teaching the kids to save their money to purchase larger items of greater value.
Ask yourself: What do we really want to receive and how can I best communicate that to others?
Experiences Versus Things
For fun, we tried the experiences versus things approach for Christmas this year with HUGE success. We contacted all the people we usually receive gifts from and let them know we wanted to do a sports themed Christmas. They received a list of all sports equipment that we were hoping to get for the family. We also wanted to purchase a family pass to a local Recreation Center and requested that people donate to that as their gift to us if they wanted.
The sports equipment was used over the Christmas break to play kickball, wall ball, tee ball, soccer, and basketball. After purchasing the pass, we have spent at least one day a week at the Rec Center, and have the older kids enrolled in swimming lessons. This is a gift that has not added clutter, but instead is helping our family be more physically active and develop skills and talents. We are loving it so much better than a bunch of broken toys and the tears that go with that!
Ask yourself: Where do I want to go, or what do I want to do? How can others help me achieve that?
This style of gift giving is certainly not for everyone, but it is one that seems to be working great for us. Imagine getting the exact perfect gift that someone asked for and seeing their face light up! Or imagine giving a gift that someone can use over and over and create many memories over time. Think of being the recipient of a gift you really needed or wanted, but couldn’t afford without the combined help of others. All of these things are possible with just a little bit of communication and planning!
We are loving the shift from things to experiences and having a destination that we can look forward to going as a family on a regular basis! And yes, I am loving the fact that we actually reduced instead of added to toy clutter this Christmas!
How does your family give gifts?