5 Ways to Buy Fewer Toys for Christmas - Pretty Real

5 Ways to Buy Fewer Toys for Christmas

3:16 PM

When we were moving we had to stage the house.  We took away most of the girls' toys. And then we removed even more as we were packing. I was astonished that only once during those months did they complain! No matter how many toys we took away, they simply played with what was left. I think sometimes we overwhelm our kids with toys and then we're surprised that they don't play with that toy we splurged on. I once read that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time.  Doesn't that sound about right?  I think the same goes for toys.  Here are 5 tips to buy fewer toys this Christmas:

1. Quality, not quantity.  I struggle with this one.  There's something about a low price that just gets me. But when you buy 10 low priced items you not only have clutter to deal with, but your cost per use/wear might even be higher than just buying that one more expensive item that you love and will use often.  The same goes for toys.  This year we are getting a dollhouse and bikes for the girls. The price tag is comparable to buying lots of inexpensive or mid range toys and I won't have to deal with playroom drama.

2. Take the toys away.  Prior to Christmas clean out all of your old toys.  Toss anything that's broken.  Put batteries in toys that need them (you'll find many of them no longer work). Donate anything your kids haven't played with in the past 3 months.  When you do this, you'll see which toys have lasting power.  Then you can make smarter choices instead on feeding on the frenzy of retailers' guerrilla marketing.  The struggle is real.

3. Create a collection. Gifting "accessories" for toys they already own just makes sense. Instead of adding to the clutter, you're adding to a collection and making a toy they already love seem new.  This might be cars to go with a race track, barbie clothes to go with the dolls they already have, klip klop ponies to go with their castle, little people to go with their farm...you get the idea.

4. Make it about giving rather than getting.  A friend of mine said they give their children a "giving pile" rather than a pile of toys with their names on it.  Instead of the mad dash to unwrap toys, they take turns giving the gifts they bought to its recipient.  This friend said they don't make lists or ask what the kids want for Christmas and that it changed the entire dynamic of Christmas morning. I love that idea!

5. Try the "4 Things" Christmas-- something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I especially love this idea for older children (when their "want" could be a pricey new phone or gaming system). Our kiddos might be a little young but I want to try this next year.  Perhaps we'll throw in a couple of other gifts but if 4 is the goal, at least I'll have a solid base line.

BONUS: Give the gift of new undies.  What I mean is, put some necessities under that tree.  I'm wrapping PJs, slippers, fresh art supplies, hats and mittens.  I might throw a few small baubles in with them but I'm not spending more because the kids needed these items anyway and I won't panic on December 23rd when nothing is under the tree and amazon prime my savings away. Yes "amazon prime" is a verb.

And of course, Christmas is not about toys and gifts anyway.  Can I get an amen?!  I'll be real with you- we have "new house wallet" (that's a thing right?). We don't have a big budget for Christmas this year. We are fortunate to be able to get the girls the gifts I mentioned earlier and a few other things so we're not destitute and clearly a brand new home is the best gift I could ask for!  But I question my own heart when I open my email and see all the sales and gift guides and instantly feel panic well up inside.  My heart starts beating faster and I start trying to make the numbers make sense so I can just get them this or that.  You guys, I literally started trying to figure out how to buy a $450 play kitchen for my kids.  Because you know. I'm rich.  ha!  (If you're curious, it was this one). But Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Obviously nothing is wrong with gift giving. I enjoy it immensely!  But I really need to model the heart behind the holiday for my kids.  I want to model gratitude, not excess. I want to model giving, not getting.  I want to model Christ, not culture. I'm not quite there yet but I'm working on getting this right while they're still young and their expectations are reasonable.
{free printable available here}

What about you? What tips do you have to keep things simple and inexpensive?  What about keeping your kids focused on "the reason for the season?"

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  1. I fully agree with the idea of the blogger. I have always opposed the purchase of tons of toys for children. Eighty percent are not practical and too wasteful.

  2. I fully agree with the idea of the blogger. I have always opposed the purchase of tons of toys for children. Eighty percent are not practical and too wasteful.

  3. Very helpful review. Many of these questions I regularly use but you reminded me of some others - the prediction question and overcoming the urge in particular - which I shall revisit. Useful summary to share with.
    Santa's Magic