Gifts That Require Wrapping But Aren’t Toys?

November 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM 6 comments

Wilbur Under the Tree

Before giving birth to an October baby I never factored in the number of gift list requests that would come between the time the first leaves fall and Christmas begins. I don’t know what to include on these lists anymore. I feel quite inundated by the number of toys currently overflowing in our living room and that doesn’t count the droves of items I’ve already moved to the basement.

I need help! No seriously. I really could use some advice on this topic. I know that everyone wants to see the little guy’s eyes light up when he rips open the wrapping paper and reveals his gifts, but I don’t want another mound of toys joining the piles we already have to contend with.

I’ve told everyone in my family that time is really the best gift of all, but with that suggestion they all seem to shrug their shoulders and say “uh-huh, but what can I buy the little guy?”

A few friends have suggested sticking to the good old rhyme:

  • something they WANT
  • something they NEED
  • something to WEAR
  • something to READ

I’ve also thought about asking them to wrap gifts of food and other consumable items. My kid loves fruit. Maybe they could just wrap up some oranges and apples. I know it sounds crazy, but at this age I think he’d love that more than any big box they’d give him. Perhaps they could buy a paint brush, paints and paper all wrapped separately. Maybe they could wrap a helium inflated balloon. Hmm, maybe these ideas do sound a bit crazy?

It’s not that I’m trying to deny him toys. If he didn’t have a room full of them I wouldn’t think twice about adding a few to his wish list. And if his birthday didn’t occur two months before Christmas he might be in need of some new ones.

I’ve written about this topic more times than I can count, but I can’t seem to find a real resolution for the problem. I’m open to any and all suggestions! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas!

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Katie  |  November 26, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    One of the things that my daughter’s therapists have suggested is having a separate bin or tub for each day of the week (or even a rotation of 5 bins). Not only does this keep toys fresh and new, but keeps they out of your hair. This also is a good way to have him help clean up before bed or after he’s finished with an activity from the tub. I know this doesn’t solve the what to do for Christmas question, but I’m pretty sure toys are inevitable until they’re teenagers no matter your wishes.

    Reply
    • 2. One Frugal Girl  |  November 26, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      I actually think that’s a great idea. We’ve been putting everything in bins in the basement, but not rotating them weekly. It’s probably wiser to put them in boxes in the living room so that they actually get played with and/or even weed out the stuff that he seems to ignore. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
  • 3. Lauren  |  November 26, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    I think you just have to remember that you can’t control what other people do. You can offer suggestions if they ask, but if they want to give your son 50 gifts, you can’t really stop it. Now, once the gift is given, you can decide what to do with it, whether keep it, donate it, or give it to someone else. Sometimes my in-laws give my girls weird stuff I would never buy, but luckily, they never ask about the gifts, so I don’t feel bad returning or donating them.

    My daughters’ birthdays are in January and February, so we get our gifts in a bunch too. Right now, we only get the girls 3 gifts each for Christmas (just like Jesus) and little stocking presents and one thing each for their birthdays.

    I, personally, hate that “something you want, something you need” saying. Gifts are supposed to be fun, I’m not giving necessities as gifts, and depending on the kid, something to wear, could also be a really boring gift.

    Reply
    • 4. One Frugal Girl  |  November 27, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Since our little guy is only two we’ve been focusing on one gift from each of us (one from my husband, one from me), but I do love your reasoning for three. I don’t mind the little rhyme, though I totally understand your point that gifts are meant to be fun and a kid that doesn’t like clothes should receive something else instead.

      I will keep in mind that I can’t control what comes into the house, but I can control what happens after it crosses our threshold. Thanks for the reminder!

      Reply
  • 5. Ellen K.  |  November 27, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    I agree with Lauren above. You can offer guidelines, even rather strongly worded recommendations (please only one-part toys, no toys with sounds and lights), but in the end you can’t control what people give your kid — and you can always donate it, which I have often done.

    My daughters have early November birthdays, and it is awful to have the gifts all running together, especially when there are several days of gift-opening before Christmas morning and Santa gifts become less meaningful. My husband is very clutter averse (hoarder mom) and is currently freaking out about this as Christmas approaches. I’ve purchased seven gifts for each of my daughters (age 5) and just moved two of those six gifts to Easter basket ideas. : )

    I do like the three gifts of the Magi idea, or also something for heart, home, health, or for the 5 senses (sense of smell is a little tricky, LOL). My parents freak out whenever I mention this. They are big believers in tons of gifts under the tree.

    Reply
    • 6. One Frugal Girl  |  November 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      I think the clutter aversion is a big part of the problem, but it’s also a matter of toy overload. As the toys pile up I fear that he doesn’t appreciate what he’s receiving. I know he’s only two, but I want to start the basis for understanding how blessed his life is as soon as possible. We just took a few toys to the donation center and on the way I explained that other kids don’t have as many toys as he does and that it’s good to share our excess with others. At two I doubt he grasped what I said, but I said it nonetheless :)

      I think it’s reasonable to limit our gift giving especially when everyone else buys him so much. I like your idea of moving gifts over to another holiday :) We had years growing up where my parents definitely overbought for us and that would have been a great idea for them. Even just distributing the gifts at a different time would be helpful. Right now I tend to hold onto a few boxes and let him open them weeks after the big event. Of course that’s much harder to do with an older child who wants to play with toys as soon as they see them.

      I’ve never heard of gifts for the senses, but that’s an interesting one too. I’m not sure what the grandparents would do with that feedback though. We might end up with some very strange gifts :)

      Thanks for the comment and for making me feel like I’m not alone!

      Reply

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