Too Much Stuff for Christmas? How Should Parents Manage the Flow of Gifts

Family Matters on 12.30.11
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Photo: Jenni Grover

The holidays are over for another year. And, like many people, I find my house full of even more stuff than it was a week ago. As someone who has lamented all the plastic crap that parenting seems to bring with it, it's probably fairly self-evident that I am not a huge fan of buying more and more things.

But I also live in the real world. And I have relatives who live in the real world. And I know that kids like toys (and should be allowed to have them).

So I'm interested to know how other parents manage the balance between buying fun things for their kids and not buying too much, not to mention how we also manage the behavior of others who want to buy gifts for our kids?

I wrote over at TreeHugger about how our family Christmas resulted in a discussion about the ever-growing onslaught of gifts. I wasn't alone in finding the shopping, giving and receiving a little overwhelming, and more and more of us seem to be wanting to find alternatives. From cutting back on gifts to giving DIY presents or making donations in lieu of buying stuff, there were plenty of good ideas for reducing the gift-giving burden among adults. But what about the kids?

Luckily, many of my family are already pretty smart about gifts. From a beautiful handmade "quiet book" to pre-loved bubble making toys, there were some really neat presents that didn't add to the pile of stuff that sits largely unplayed with in the toy chest. But I'm wondering what other ways there are to give memorable gifts that aren't just more and more plastic crap. From memberships to the local science museum to renting toys and clothes instead of buying them, I'm betting there are many great ideas out there that move beyond the usual consumer mindset.

Anyone care to share?

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Tags: Holidays