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More Memories, Less Clutter

(Grandparents, Family Members, or Anyone else who loves giving Christmas gifts to my kids),
First, let me start with this: We love you. We know that you love the littles in your life and one of the many ways you show them this love is through gift giving. We so appreciate ALL of your love, but the Christmas gift giving has gotten slightly out of control. This year I want to challenge you, myself, and everyone reading this to change the way we approach gift giving at Christmas. For years we have thrown away toys, many of which break within weeks (or days) of Christmas, and added more clutter to the home. I am here today to tell you, there IS a better way to gift your loved ones. In my new book, Start Balancing, I talk about decluttering and getting organized, and it’s important for us to teach our kids this too! They learn these skills and habits from a young age!
Yes, my older two boys have been dreaming about their Christmas list for a solid month–if not longer. But let’s be honest, they need nothing (as is true for most kids these days). This year, I have carefully crafted a want/need Christmas list for my boys. I get it though, it is the season for giving and there IS joy in giving. I am just asking you to come at it from a different perspective this year. I have three solutions for all the grandparents or loved ones out there:
Coordinate with the parents and ask them what is on the want/need list so you are not just buying random things, duplicates, or toys to add to the clutter that will break within a couple of weeks.

I know this might not sound as exciting because you want to see their excitement upon opening their gift. But do you realize this is a gift that keeps giving and to me the best gifts are those that create memories. Ideas? Okay, you got it.

  • Movie ticket gift cards–make it fun and include their favorite popcorn and candy!
  • Gift cards to whatever they are in to (Sports, music, etc.)
  • An experience with you (short trip, overnight stay, sporting event, etc)
  • Look around for local experiences (ice cream shops, activities like bowling or skating, local museum or zoos). Our Zoo here in Atlanta has a behind the scenes Wild Encounters with some of the animals. You can feed and pet a tortoise or give treats to a panda bear or elephant. Talk about an unforgettable experience!
  • If there are varying ages, consider gifting an experience for one and offering to watch the other child. Can I get a Amen? It is like two gifts in one. The parents of multiple kids get to have some one-on-one time with one child and you in turn get to spend some one-on-one time with the other.
  • Activities. Again, coordinate with parents on what craft projects would be fun and age appropriate. Does the playroom need some new wall art? Get some gallery canvas wraps and have a paint party. Are they into planes? Buy them a model airplane and help them build it.
  • Outdoor gear. For us this is a big one and I think many would agree!
  • Games. Board games are always a great gift and encourage togetherness and social interaction.
  • BOOKS! Ask the kids what they like to read or take them to a local bookstore and let them pick out a few books. THIS is a great way to get them engaged in reading and encourage reading together!  A gift certificate to Scholastic Book Club, or the local bookstore is great too!
  • Tickets to experiences that kids will enjoy. One year someone gifted our family with tickets to the Marvel Avengers Stunt Show–It was SO fun! My Kids also love sports. What about tickets to go see a sporting event or to the Nutcracker ballet.
  • Charity or Volunteer – Teach them to give now at an early age. Volunteer with them at a soup kitchen or local charity. Give them a set amount of money and let them get to experience giving to those in need. The more hands-on it is the more impactful it will be.
  • Treasure Hunt – Are you worried that if you don’t give “stuff”, the fun of opening gifts will end too fast? Get creative! Make them search for the gifts with a treasure hunt!
  • What are their interests? How can you help? Local Gym Membership, Batting Cage membership, rock climbing at local gym, music or art lessons.
  • Less Technology! It’s easy for kids these days to get sucked into screen time and we want to encourage our kids to be more active. In years past, we have given our kids technology for Christmas, but in the last 4 months our family has gone “technology free”, and it has been one of the best things we could have done for them. They are happier, interacting more, and moving their bodies.


Last but not least, instead of buying random toys, consider getting them one or two things off the list and gift the rest to them or the parent in cash so it can be tucked away into their savings account.

Again, it is not that we are not thankful for you wanting to give to our kids. We ARE thankful, but it is just not necessary. My kids play with less than 5% of their current toys and instead I would rather see them receive what they want/need. Please consider trading expensive toys with experiences with you. Create memories with them that they will carry throughout their lives: )
This year, my kids will also be going through all their toys and chosing a bag or two to donate! I will be giving the older two money so that they can start learning and experiencing the gift of giving themselves, and I will be teaching them these very lessons that I am sharing with you here.
I want my kids to know that there is more to Christmas than opening presents and I want to make sure they appreciate the gift of thoughtfulness and togetherness. If you are reading this and you have already started buying “the stuff”, consider returning some or adding some experiences to the mix.
With love,
A Mom of Three Boys, ages 9, 5, and 2 (and a house already overflowing with toys)
P.S. Drop a comment below if you have any other ideas on how to gift experiences!

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