My husband has a giving heart. As a daddy of three girls, he wants to give them the world. That is sweet and all, but right now their world is filled with Barbies and baby dolls which just means my house is filled with Barbies and baby dolls.
All three of my girls are Fall babies, which promptly leads right up to Christmas. Every year I find myself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of STUFF we accumulate over these 4 months- September through December- and every year I beg family members not to buy traditional gifts. But no one listens to the lady who has to sort through toys and quietly stuff them into garbage bags in the middle of the night. No. Everyone, including my husband, wants to give these girls their world, which is again, filled with Barbies and baby dolls.
And I just want to scream NO.
I know I am not the only person who deals with this stuff. Every year you will see articles circulating social media about what you can get your kids for Christmas outside of traditional gifts. I gave up asking the grandparents not to buy traditional gifts. They love to do it and there is no stopping them.
However, my husband is my arch nemesis during the holidays. He wants to buy all. the. things. This is generally how a conversation over the holidays will go:
Him: “OH MAN. LOOK AT THIS HUGE GIFT WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO SPACE FOR/THE GIRLS ALREADY HAVE 12 OF THE SAME THING IN DIFFERENT VARIETIES,” (I’m not kidding. It’s usually something like a bounce house, an electric car, or another Elsa doll…), “We should get it for the girls.”
Me: “Babe. No. They don’t need that. Plus, where would we put it? What are we going to do with it when we move?” (Here I’m already calculating what stuff I have to get rid of or sell to make space for this monstrosity).
Him: “It’s fine. We have space. We can sell it when we move. I’m getting it.”
Me: “Sweet baby Jesus.”
If your conversation with your spouse sounds a lot like this, here are some tips on how to quell their gift buying hands over the holiday season so you are only left with managing 1,893,301 things instead of 1,893,399 things:
1. Let them get the one big gift
One thing that has seemed to help manage this insane gift thing is letting go of the big gift things. They are the hardest for me to deal with, but I have figured out that one big gift that all the kids can share (read: fight over) is much better than 50 small gifts.
2. Bring your kids into the mix
This is the first year my oldest is really beginning to question Santa and when my second is starting to notice when some of her toys go “missing.” At this point I think the gimmick is up- I have to bring them into the mix if we want peace in our house. This year I plan to follow this parent’s idea, but shape it to our own family. As I begin to purge, I’m going to have my kids get in on it. They will each be filling a diaper sized box of toys they would like to give to other kids. We will be bringing them to a women’s shelter here on base together, playing the part of “Santa” to other kids.
3. Rotate the gifts
It’s easy for kids to see a bunch of toys and want to open them all at once. On Christmas morning, we allow our kids to open and begin to play with a few toys, but the rest are off limits. Sometimes we wait a few days and sometimes those toys go into the basement storage. Every once in awhile, when I get ready to purge, I’ll pull out one of those Christmas toys so they feel as if they have something new before I get rid of their other stuff.
4. Don’t buy them gifts
Follow the lead of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis and don’t buy your kids Christmas gifts. My husband and I have compromised on getting the kids one big toy to share and one small gift each. The rest is up to grandparents and extended family.
5. Let them do the stocking stuffers
My husband hates that I don’t want to buy the entire toy aisle at Target (well, Wal-Mart for him) but we have decided that he gets to do the stocking stuffers. He usually ends up getting a bunch of small things that I would typically see as junk and it ends up satisfying his need to get the girls a ton of regular toys.
6. Do a big purge
Before the holidays arrive, begin prepping yourself for the storm of gift wrapping, opened boxes, and 57 million twisty ties that are about to take over your floor. Box up toys to giveaway, post stuff on yard sales, and PURGE. Doing this before Christmas will make you feel a lot better about the number of toys coming in.
7. Make a deal
A few days before Christmas, talk to your kids about how when opening gifts they need to be grateful even if they don’t love it and strike a deal- if after Christmas there are things they don’t actually want, they can return them (or sell them), and use the money to get a family/shared sibling gift. So, when everything is unwrapped and everyone is settled from the craziness (this might even be a week later), go through all the items they received and put aside things they don’t love so they can get something the whole family can enjoy (this might just be a board game or even a dozen donuts!)
Christmas can be overwhelming. Gifts, parties, food, traveling, more gifts- it seems endless. Even if you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on the gift giving, my suggestion is to just roll with us. Make a few compromises here and there and always be sure to discuss with your children how the number of gifts under the tree don’t matter. Otherwise, just roll with it. Your kids won’t be in your house forever and neither will their things. You can use the opportunities to teach your children about empathy and giving back to the community. As long as you are modeling kind, generous, and loving behavior your kids will follow suit.
You know, after you drag yourself out from underneath the mounds of wrapping paper.