Don’t you just love this song?
I do. But naughtiness isn’t why there’s not going to be much under our tree this year. It’s just that there are plenty of reasons my kids don’t need any toys. Seven, in fact. Here they are . . .
1. We Have a Lot of Stuff
We have a lot of kids. We have a LOT of stuff in our house. We have a lot of toys. I keep cleaning them out, and they keep multiplying somehow. We just DO NOT NEED more toys.
2. We Already Have What We Like and Use
Clean out after clean out, we’ve become more mindful about what we like and use, and we already have it. Legos, board games, dress up clothes, toy cars, tea sets, dolls, art and craft supplies, sports equipment, books. That’s it. That’s what gets played with regularly at our house. Is that all we HAVE? Nope. But all the rest of it seems to be primarily used for making messes. We don’t need any more of that. In fact, I’m going to TRY to get rid of more of it.
3. My Kids Aren’t Subject to Fads
One of the secret benefits of homeschooling is that my kids’ preferences aren’t subject to the whims of their schoolmates. They get to like what they like, and they get to keep liking it year after year. If there are hot new toys this year, my kids don’t know what they are.
4. I Keep Failing Anyway
At this point, I think it’s time for me to concede that buying The Big Toy For Christmas That They Will Love Forever is mostly a failed experiment at our house. I’ve tried it all, really I have.
When we had one and two and three kids, we had the mountain of presents under the tree. Once we got to four and five and six kids, we started trying to limit the number of presents each kid got down to three items. By last year, with seven kids, they each got ONE gift from mom and dad and ONE gift from Santa. I researched popular toys. I read reviews. I carefully chose toys that I thought my kids were really going to love.
But even so, most of what they got was broken and discarded by Epiphany.
The best new things that have come into our house haven’t come under the pressure of MUST FIND THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT. They’ve been hand me downs, or birthdays gifts from friends who have and like that toy. And they haven’t come seven or fourteen at a time.
4. Opening Presents Isn’t Actually the Most Fun Thing You Can Do On Christmas, Even For Kids
I’m not even going to play the “Reason for the Season” card here. Yes, obviously we should be focused on the birth of Jesus, yes it’s less
easy for kids to focus on anything else in the whole world when they are surrounded by new toys. But even if I give us the benefit of the doubt here, even if I figure . . we’ve observed Advent as a time of preparation
, and my kids KNOW what Christmas is really about. We’ve put the Baby Jesuses in the mangers (yes, that is the correct plural
), we’ve gone to Mass. But the thing I keep coming back to is the fact that we have spent so many Christmases insisting that the kids, “Stop playing with that and open the rest of your presents!”
It’s just chaotic and messy and exhausting.
Our favorite things about Christmas are getting up in the morning and eating candy and fruit and hard boiled eggs from our stockings for breakfast, and wearing new clothes to Mass, and playing family boardgames, and watching a movie, and putting on our At Home Family Nativity Play.
I want us to have the time and energy to enjoy a couple of gifts, and some tasty treats, and some yummy food, and each other’s company. Plus the Baby Jesus part.
5. Experiences Are Better Than Stuff
Speaking of fun, doing stuff is better than getting stuff. I’d rather my kids make memories than messes any day. So, I’ve asked family members to consider getting the kids classes or taking them on a special outing, rather than giving them a toy.
We’ve done this in previous years as well, and it’s always been a big success.
Getting grandparents, godparents, and aunts and uncles on board with a simpler Christmas, means my kids have received trips to theme parks, or movies, or lunch dates, or have been signed up for sports, classes, or activities that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
My mom has wrapped up a printout of a map of Six Flags, or, the year my parents gave the kids their basketball sign ups, she wrapped up hightop sneakers to put under the tree for them.
6. Activities are Better Than Toys
My kids really like creating-type toys. That’s why they love Legos so much. But we already have enough Legos to last us a lifetime. They also really love arts and crafts, but art projects require a lot more input from mom. They are forever asking me for supplies and ideas, but coming up with craft projects for the kids and helping them do them isn’t at the tippy top of my list of favorite stuff to do.
So this year, our gift is going to take care of the “them needing a Christmas present” thing AND the “them needing something to do in the afternoons” thing. They’re getting Kiwi Crate, which is a monthly subscription service that delivers a sturdy little box full of 2-3 projects specially designed for your child’s particular age group. They’re each getting one.
So, there’s our Christmas done.
You can find out more here if you’re interested, through my affiliate link. (Thanks!)
Another great option for a monthly Catholic
activity and craft subscription for kids is Saint Mail
, to which we are also subscribed. I’ve reviewed it here
7. They’ll Get Plenty of Fun Stuff Anyway
I’m pretty sure, that despite my best efforts, there will be gifts (and maybe even toys) coming the way of my kids. But at least this year, it isn’t going to be all my fault.
The kids will get some little treats, and probably a book from St. Nicholas
on December 6th. Then on Christmas, Santa will probably be back with some treats and stocking stuffers. Most likely, Santa will also be bringing the kids one group gift of some outdoor play equipment or a gaming system of some kind. They’ll get to enjoy their Kiwi Crates from mom and dad not just on Christmas day, but every month all year.
And it’s not just about the gifts anyway, it’s about CHRISTMAS. I want them to enjoy Christmas, not just on December 25th, and not just because of presents, but for the whole twelve days, and because it’s a special family time full of fun family activities. I want our family Christmas to conform to our family values and our family culture. ‘Cause that’s how we roll.
Speaking of that, if you want to hear more — lots LOTS more — about how we keep Advent and celebrate Christmas, have I got a podcast for you! I’m a guest today, for the second time, on Kristin’s This Inspired Life Podcast, talking all about exactly what we do and don’t do during Advent, how we observe Advent as a time of preparation, and how we celebrate Christmas as twelve days of family fun. So, check it out and let me know what you think.
In the spirit of the season, you might also enjoy reading:
And in case YOU have had fewer kids and/or fewer Christmases than I have had, and are perhaps still in the market for toys you won’t hate, stay tuned next week for a post on the toys I DON’T regret buying for my kids.
I’m linking up with Kelly again
for Seven Quick Takes!
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click over and shop through my link, I get a portion of what you spend at no additional cost to you. But all opinions are my own, and I only link to products and companies I use and love.