Every year around Christmas, I find myself in an all too familiar scenario—browsing the aisles of an overwhelming toy store trying to find the PERFECT gift. You know, that gift that's going to guarantee the photo-worthy smile on your child's face come Christmas morning.
You could find me carefully analyzing the newest, trendiest toys in front of me whispering a series of questions to myself—
“How can I top last year's magna throttle bike?"
“What gift is going to last more than a month before my children lose interest?"
“How can I do this without totally blowing our budget?"
At the same time, my face would be turning every shade of pink imaginable—my body would start to feel itchy and hot. I'd have about one hour to figure out the toy dilemma before having to run home to find a hiding spot before dashing off to school pickup.
Typically what ends up happening is that I snag something way over-priced that my kids don't need that inevitably ends up in a donation bin a few months later during spring cleaning.
So, this year? This mama isn't buying one. Single. Toy.
It wasn't until this past summer that I realized just how many toys we have accumulated over the years. The amount of plastic I got rid of was nauseating and the amount of tears that came with the process of decluttering was difficult. Too difficult to think about doing it again anytime soon.
No more clutter.
During my endeavor this past year to get rid "stuff," I found myself wondering how in the world our children ended up with so many toys. Half of them I don't even remember buying or receiving (#mombrain) and more than half of them, sadly, were never played with.
Because of this, it felt great to give many of these toys to households that might have more use for them. And it now feels so unnecessary to invite clutter back into our now clear, spacious closets.
Christmas is more than clutter.
Aside from the clutter aspect, Christmas in our household represents so much more than toys under the tree. I don't want our children to be distracted from the real reason we celebrate this holiday by a shiny new toy they don't need.
I want them to learn about giving without the concept being tied only to possessions in their mind. I want them to understand that giving doesn't always come in the form of an object.
We are, however, still giving gifts—ones that are meaningful to our family.
I recently read an article about the things your children remember most about their childhood, and toys were not on that list—experiences were. Activities we did together as a family are the memories I cherish most about my childhood.
Sure, when given the option of a toy or a family outing at age eight, I probably would have chosen a toy—but if you ask me now what toy I received Christmas morning when I was eight, I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is all about the Christmas play I was in, the nativity scene we put together and the Christmas tree farm we visited.
I want my children to have those same types of memories. ✨
Meaningful, thoughtful gifts are another one of those things that I not only love to receive but I also enjoy putting together as well. Photo gifts, personalized books, keepsake boxes and arts and crafts have all become great options for our family and are generally budget-friendly, too!
When I made this decision about Christmas, I knew I had to go all in—so we decided to extend this practice to our gift-giving plans for extended family members as well. I communicated that we will not accept toys this year (unless they are okay with them being donated) and that gifts at all weren't necessary—although memorable and experience-based gifts were warmly accepted, as we would be doing the same.
It's possible our children might be slightly disappointed when they don't receive the toy(s) they asked for and they will probably feel a shift in the gifts they will receive. But I have a feeling that Christmas will be just as joyous and magical as previous years, with even more memories to cherish.