An avalanche of toys always seems to appear in our homes this time of year. For a simple, more meaningful celebration, use these strategies to cut back on the toy overload.

The Four-Gift Philosophy

This gift-giving method is “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” The idea is that it gives kids a variety of gifts without going overboard. It’s practical, affordable and fun. Best of all it’s easy to shop for, without the risk of impulse buying.

Give an Experience

Instead of spending a lot of money on toys that may or may not get played with, consider giving the gift of an experience. This could be a membership to a local attraction like a zoo or children’s museum, classes, tickets to a show, movie passes, gift cards, a special night on the town, or even a vacation. This gift will create memories that last longer than an easily forgotten toy.

A Family Gift

Try giving a gift the entire family can enjoy. Some ideas include movies, books, board games, electronics or a swing set. Individual gifts that go along with the family gift could make it more personal. For example, if the family gift is a new video game system, each child might receive a game of interest to them to go along with it. The benefit to this type of gift is that it encourages quality family time.

A Heartfelt Gift

These types of gifts are special because they’re personal. One Christmas, my grandmother made all of her children and grandchildren a book of family recipes that had been passed down for generations. It was a gift that cost little but was priceless to the recipient. These gifts require more time than money, but will keep giving for many years.

One Big Gift

Some kids have one large, costly gift on their list. Perhaps they want it more than anything else. Consider getting each child the one larger gift they really want and forgo the smaller extra gifts. This will be a good lesson in the cost of items and help them appreciate the gifts they do receive more.

During the holidays, it is so easy to shower those we love with gifts, but when January comes around, parents often find themselves surrounded by toy overload. These strategies will not only reduce the excess toys but will also help your children appreciate the gifts they do receive.

– Sarah Lyons

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