2007 Gift Giving Guide: Buying for children

Holidays 2007The holiday season is upon us and now is the time when grandparents and family friends overindulge and spoil their children by purchasing everything that they think looks cute.

My 19-month-old daughter is getting ready to enjoy her second Christmas. She is the only grandchild between the two sets of grandparents and the spoiling is hard to combat. Both sets of grandparents are raring to go out and buy, buy, buy.

Here are some tips on trying to combat the accumulation of more toys:

Make a list: This year we supplied both sets of grandparents with a list of what our daughter needs. We didn’t really want to resort to this, but it is definitely a necessary evil. We can’t house an endless supply of toys, and there are actually things we need for her.

Consumables for the little ones: To combat the influx of new toys, you might want to include some consumables for your little one’s list. How about a season pass to the local zoo or museum? These are great purchases that grandparents can also enjoy by accompanying their grandchild to such an outing. What about a year’s worth of gymnastics or piano lessons? Be creative.

Prepare old toys for donation: What better time of year to donate old toys that no longer hold your child’s interest than the holiday season? In preparation of the new toys coming in, make a conscience effort to donate all old and gently used toys and books to a local charity. If you child is old enough, have him or her participate in the charitable process.

When shopping for other people’s children, consider ways that you can give in uncluttered ways, too. Toys with small pieces probably aren’t the best choices.

I hope these tips help. Good luck, and happy holidays!

18 Comments for “2007 Gift Giving Guide: Buying for children”

  1. posted by twosandalz on

    My husband and I used to struggle with what to give our nieces and nephews who have more toys than they can play with and more clothes than they can wear. Then, my family started savings/investment accounts for the kids which they’ll get when they become adults. It isn’t as exciting to them as other gifts right now, but they’ll appreciate it when they get older.

  2. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    My Mother bought my son, my daughter and niece a rooster and two hens last year.
    No we don’t live on a farm…
    Check out http://www.worldvision.org

    Believe it or not, the kids were really excited they got “pets” that someone else got to look after.

  3. posted by Kris on

    We go to the beach the week of Christmas every year. We exchange one or two small gifts prior to leaving and that’s it. No decorations or gifts come with us. And I have two boys ages 4 and 5. We’ve never made a big deal of the holiday and don’t intend to. It’s more about spending time together and I think they understand that. The few gifts they do get are small … maybe a movie they love and want to watch or something to do with matchbox cars (my 5 year old is addicted), or a huge puzzle. Something we can all enjoy.

    I think kids are more pliable and understanding than many give them credit for with regard to gifts and the holidays. The excitement over the rooster and two hens as posted above is evidence of that.

    Great post.

  4. posted by Shannon on

    I appreciate this post. I don’t have kids yet, but have one on the way and I am apprehensive about the spoiling and excessive gifts. I particularly like the tip that involves spending time with the grandchildren. Children get so much of everything, except for time with their family members, I think.

  5. posted by Tracy on

    One of the best gifts our family received last year was a year-long pass to our local children’s museum. What a great place to let the kids blow off steam on a cold winter day, or a place to escape the humidity in the summer! It also feels good to support and use a community resource.

  6. posted by Colin on

    Another category of consumables for kids is art supplies. You can get all sorts of kits for things like drawing around hands, making paper flowers, sticker pictures, etc. that don’t take up a lot of space, are reasonably priced, and engage their minds – they might even leave you alone, you never know.

    Also heartily agree with the list idea. With three sets of grandparents (the in-laws parted ways years ago) in Maine, Michigan, and California, a gift list – and clear instructions on sizing of clothes – is pretty crucial.

  7. posted by Kris on

    @ Tracy … GREAT idea!

  8. posted by Nat on

    Thanks for the tips. Our kid is still on the way, but when he/she arrives, we’re following the guidelines. I once attended a Christmas Eve party many years ago in which my cousin’s child got way too many gifts. Because he was the first kid of his generation in our family, people would give him about two gifts per person. It quickly became a toy orgy. Hopefully, everyone will be over the novelty of new kid in the family by the time ours arrives.

  9. posted by Mike Howe on

    Excellent posts! We have our first daughter on the way (14 wks to go) and have been thinking of similar solutions to combat my “toy deluge” parents. She is not even born yet and she already has a couple toys waiting for her. We have started the groundwork for the “ten toys total” rule: they can buy her as many toys as they want….but she can only keep ten. If she wants to keep a new toy (past ten), then she must donate one of her old ones (toy in = toy out). That way, she will have to make a conscience effort to decide what is important to her – and to give to others who are not as fortunate (isn’t fortunate just a better word for spoiled?).


  10. posted by Lauren on

    I love all these ideas! My kids are the first in our family, and we struggle with well meaning family members and the above mentioned toy orgy as well. Some of the family members have caught on, and now give “gift certificates” for a special day out, always a huge hit.

    Also, our kids understand that their party is their gift from my husband and I, and we always have a blast planning it.

  11. posted by lucille on

    I don’t know how I got so lucky. My parents give savings bonds and a book for birthdays and Barnes & Noble cards for the holidays. The other grandma always sent money.

    You get holiday let down if you make a big deal out of things beforehand. We try to keep things low key and opt out of much of the mandatory stress inducing rituals.

  12. posted by Lisa on

    When my children were younger, they used to start their Christmas lists very early, in fact, about 6 months early. As a toy, book, subscription, or any other “want” came into their mind, they would write it down on a list with the date entered next to each item. The maximum number of items on the list was 6. So, before putting a new item on the list, each child (and I have 4) would compare it to the other items on the list. If the new item was better than the older one, it would get replaced. By the time Christmas rolled around, the gifts that remained on the list were REALLY important gifts for the kids.

    It was amazing watching them truly think about what items were important to them……………:)

  13. posted by Monica Ricci on

    Amen to clutterfree gifts! I have been passionate about giving clutterfree gifts even since even before I became an organizer. Great post!

  14. posted by Daniel E. Friedman on

    I’m glad that you mentioned giving gift donations. My family and I are big supporters of that philosophy. Happy holidays!

  15. posted by TGIF Link Roundup for 11-23-2007 ~ Smart. Healthy. Rich. on

    […] 2007 Gift Giving Guide: Buying for Children – Some great ideas for buying gifts for your children that they’ll actually enjoy, and not just end up taking up space in your house. (from Unclutterer) […]

  16. posted by Paula on

    It may take a lot of time finding a charity that will accept used toys. There’s been discussion on my area’s forums about that, and similar discussion on how parents can handle the issue of toy recalls.

    At least one thrift shop in my city posts on its donation door “no toys,” and all of our Christmas donation drives ask for brand new toys. But even with the “new toy” requests, one of the Christmas charity leaders has had deal with pulling just-recalled toys out of her storage area this fall.

    The suggestions that have come up among local parents in dealing with toy overload include holding a garage sale, eBay auction, participating in a Mom to Mom sale (it’s a multi-family garage sale focusing on kids clothing, furniture and stuff), or going to the consignment shops that specialize in children’s things. (All of which take more time and effort than making a charity donation.)

    To prevent the pile from growing too big to begin with, I like the music lessons, zoo passes, etc. idea.

  17. posted by Andamom on

    Other suggestions on gifts for children:

    -Contributions to 529 Plans
    -Zoo or museum memberships
    -A donation to a charity like Heifer.org (many children enjoy fundraising for this organization too; I recently wrote about 37 NFP organizations to which a donation greatly benefits others — let’s teach children the holidays can be about really giving back)

  18. posted by STL Mom on

    Paula (and anyone else having trouble finding a home for the old toys):
    There are people in the Army Corp of Engineers in Iraq who will accept your gently used stuffed animals and dolls. The toys will be donated to Iraqi children. The shipping isn’t cheap, but it seems like a good cause.

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