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Is a Clutter Free Christmas Possible?

Is a Clutter Free Christmas Possible?

My child has too much stuff.

And before you say to yourself, this woman should consider herself lucky that that is her biggest problem, I want to state that I realize this is very much one of those First World Problems. Maybe it’s even indulgent to write about it here. But hear me out because I’m guessing I’m not the only mom in North Alabama with this dilemma.

I fully understand we are blessed to be in a situation where this is a problem. I also recognize this is largely a predicament of our own creation. Yet, here we are with Christmas looming and instead of getting excited and filled with holiday cheer, all I keep thinking is WHAT ON EARTH AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL THE TOYS!

How do I keep our home from becoming Toyland without turning into the Grinch?


My daughter is now at that age when she understands how Christmas works. She sees something she wants, puts it on an ever changing list in her head, continually repeats to me what that list has on it, and then on Christmas day those things will magically appear under a tree, delivered by a strange old man in a red suit.

I’ve already told her that her list can only have three things on it and she knows she has to be good or she won’t get them. So far she’s been pretty consistent with two of those and the third changes daily. While she will almost certainly get more than that in total, I am determined that is all she will get from us. I can’t control Grandparents or other relatives but I can certainly limit the consumerism within our little contingent. Yet that attitude seems anti-everything-thats-great-about-Christmas. I love giving my daughter toys she wants and seeing how excited she gets. I just don’t want her to take them for granted and the reality is, the more gifts she receives the less special the gifts become.

Even with my personal crusade against too many gifts, I need to prepare the house for the new influx of clutter and I’m not sure what to do. Should I donate, sell, or put away many of her current toys? And if so, do I involve her in the process? At three and half, is she old enough to understand what we are doing or will that just result in tears?

I love the idea of asking relatives to give experiences (trips, classes) rather than toys but the logistics of that can be difficult and awkward. What if your local dance studio or gymnastics class doesn’t offer gift certificates? In essence you are now asking your relatives to give cash which isn’t so much fun to unwrap. I get why they may be hesitant to follow through on that suggestion.

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Suggesting to other parents in the playgroup that maybe the kids could just exchange homemade presents makes me look cheap and less than generous. Plus, not everyone has time to make tons of cookies and those craft projects are cute but lose some of their charm when it wasn’t your child that made it.

I am determined to make this season more about the reason and less about the “gimme, gimme, gimme” but how is the question.

Any ideas? What has worked for you and your family this year? If you have successful prevented an avalanche of toys from invading your home, share your secret in our comments. I’m all ears.

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This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated.


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