A minimalist parent’s guide to holiday gift overload

3. Preemptively give away some toys.

A minimalist parent’s guide to holiday gift overload

I married into a family that cares for and appreciates stuff. Coming from a family that not only isn't so into stuff, but, in fact, fears and is deeply unsettled by stuff, it has been a major adjustment, especially around the holidays.

My husband's family cherishes and saves things in a way my own family does not. For example, my mother-in-law has one box from every school year of my husband's life. My own mother has one box from all the school years of my life. One box. And I'm not even sure how big that box is—it might not fit more than a loaf of bread. It might even be more of a bag.

Obviously, my mother's saved items have nothing to do with how much she loves me. I've always known that. But this is where I'm coming from.

So, now that I have a wonderful mother-in-law who, like many people, loves to buy A LOT of stuff during the holidays for her grandson, I'm working on opening my own nervous and organized heart to all the things she so lovingly and generously offers.

As the holidays approach, here's how an obsessive minimalist like me copes with the onset of an avalanche.

1. Suggest donations instead of gifts

It's worth a shot. Your idea will likely be met with a ripple of laughter followed by, "Nice try, babe, but we've already made our donations. Lots of them! And we made them while simultaneously purchasing 750 gifts for your son. AND WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED."

You've married into a good family. They want EVERYONE to have stuff.

At least you tried. Good job for trying.

2. Buy storage bins

Since your minimalist fate was sealed the day your parents casually recycled your first inconsequential school art project, the only way to handle the inevitable onslaught of holiday gifts is to go to the mattresses. And by mattresses, I mean bins.

For me, seeing new toys spread out all over the living room floor is akin to being trapped behind a pile of live rats. So after everyone's gone to bed, I tiptoe into the living room and neatly place 75% of those rats inside plastic bins and shove those bins deep in a closet somewhere. I then return to bed and dream, peacefully, of empty rat-free rooms.

Until your kid learns to use the stepladder and finds a way to not let you hide toys in bins ever again, this works PERFECTLY.

3. Preemptively give away some toys

I've got a one-for-one philosophy: For every new thing, an old thing must be retired. The thing can either be taken down to the basement for future children or mold experiments, or the thing can be given to a child in need NOW.

Head to your local homeless shelter or Salvation Army with used toys. Then ride that high on over to CommuniGift, where you can buy something off the wish list of a kiddo who isn't getting as many as yours.

4. Say thank you—and mean it

The hour is nigh, the gift mountain is high, and you're going to have to get it together and behave like a kind person. Otherwise it will seem like you are an ungrateful stuff-hating ogre-scrooge, who cannot find the fun in unwrapping countless items purchased lovingly for you and your tiny human.

Even if that IS what you are (and proud of it), you've got to model some gratitude. And anyway, smile therapy is no joke! I find the more conviction with which I say thank you, the more thankful I actually am.

5. Remember you all have the same goal

You've now got a rug made of wrapping paper bits and Scotch tape and the toddler crash is imminent, but for the next four to seven minutes, you may simply recess into the folds of your couch and let relief wash over you. It's done.

Your over-stimulated child is currently filled to the gills with joy as he paddles his way through The Sea of Four Thousand Toys. And your in-laws? They're even more thrilled, seeing him like that.

Yeah, you might not have given your son the same things, or the same amount of things, but you all want the same thing, right? You want this tiny crazed creature to know he's loved.

And he is. And he does.

And you're probably going to need at least seven more bins.

When it comes to registering for baby products, there's one word we love: convertible.

In contrast to items you use for a short period of time, convertible (or multi-use) products are made to grow with your baby… and trust us, that makes them worth their weight in gold.

Convertible items allow you to reap the benefits of your baby registry for years to come—and that's just savvy shopping, mama. Also savvy shopping? Creating your baby registry with Target and enjoying their Year of Benefits registry program for expectant parents. Just by starting your registry, you will get a welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. And Target's newest registry perk, the Year of Exclusive Deals, gives you discounts on essentials for your baby's whole first year when you sign up for Target Circle as well.

If you prioritize value and longevity when creating your registry, here are 10 items you'll love from day one through day 1,000… and beyond!

A crib that can grow through childhood + beyond

Simmons Kids Slumbertime Monterey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

A crib is a necessity as you plan for life with your baby—you know that already. But what about in a couple of years when they need a toddler bed? Or a few years beyond that when they graduate to a bigger bed? Well, you're in luck: With the right attachments, this bed can be the only one they need until college.


A cozy blanket for snuggles + security

Plush Velboa Baby Blanket I Love You - Cloud Island\u2122 White/Black

Blankets have earned their spot on millions upon millions of registries for good reason: They function as stroller covers or play mats during the early days, then become beloved security items in the toddler years.


A comfy spot for feeding + stories

Baby Relax Addison Swivel Gliding Recliner

During your first months of motherhood, a comfortable gliding chair will be your second home as you spend time feeding and bonding. As your child grows (and mobility makes those snuggles harder to catch), you'll discover a new love for this cozy spot for stories and bedtime snuggles.


Sealy Cozy Rest Extra Firm Crib and Toddler Mattress

Fun fact: A standard crib and toddler bed actually use the same size mattress. That's why it's smart to get a quality crib mattress right out of the gate: One less thing to change up in a few years!


A changing table that doubles as a dresser

Simmons\u00ae Kids Monterey 4 Drawer Dresser with change top

If space is at a premium in your baby's nursery, look for a combination changing table and dresser. That way, you can keep using the dresser long after your little one is potty trained.


A car seat that converts to a booster

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The safest place for your child is in the backseat of your car, in either a car seat or (later) booster. But instead of buying a new seat for each phase, you can check off multiple boxes at once by adding a convertible car seat to your registry.


A stroller that accommodates big kids, too

Graco FastAction Jogger LX Stroller

The need for a good stroller doesn't end when your little one learns to walk, so look for a stroller that can accommodate bigger kids, too. We recommend a jogging stroller that allows you to attach an infant car seat and is still perfectly spacious for toddlers.


A place to dine for years to come

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

From first bites to family dinners around the table, one single high chair can be the solution you need. That is, if you look for a version that adapts into a booster seat when your child is ready for a plate at the table.


A white noise machine + alarm clock in one

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

After spending months listening to ambient noise in the womb, white noise remains incredibly comforting for your child. It's nice to have a sound machine that can transition to a time-to-rise clock down the line. By cueing with sounds and colors, these clocks reinforce healthy sleep habits.


A baby carrier that can haul a toddler, too

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

A carrier is a major help when your baby loves being held, but you need use of your hands. But even months or years down the line, you can still get use out of that carrier. To maximize longevity, look for one that can be used with your child facing outward or even carried on your back as they grow.


Enjoy building your registry with Target, mama! The Year of Benefits is calling your name with a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more! 😉

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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