The “Wow!” Factor.
That’s what my kids have experienced on Christmas morning. In our family, we don’t put any gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve, after the kids are in bed. This helps make it seem like so much more, rather than the gradual accumulation as things are wrapped. The “Santa” gift is something big and unwrapped. This also helps with “Wow!” as they first come downstairs. The stocking is also from Santa, but everything else is from me or whoever else.
This will be K’s 6th Christmas, and only B’s second (though she is almost 4). B is still too young and inexperienced with the holiday to notice a reduction in the loot, but K is. Last year most of the gifts they got didn’t even get put away until February (we have 2 winter birthdays too!), so this year I am making a conscious effort to reduce “stuff”. Unfortunately, the kids are too young to appreciate anything else. I’d much rather take a trip or spend our money on a museum membership or something else where we could make memories together, but that’s not so exciting to unwrap.
Adding to this, there are three sets of grandparents and my ex (who only has a relationship with K) asking me for gift ideas. This annoys me on at least two levels. First, coming up with ideas of what to buy is, to me, the hard part of gift giving. So I resent when others ask me to do this hard work for them. We’re talking 5-6 different sets of people here! And asking for money for their college fund falls on deaf ears, with the exception of my mother, who does make that her big gift (and she’s quite generous with it too — too bad the kids don’t appreciate this yet either). And if you don’t know them well enough to come up with your own ideas….
So how do you manage to control the volume of “stuff” with young children? And how do you handle when others as you for gift ideas?
We have three sets of grandparents, too. No exes involved, fortunately. My mom always gives money because she figures that’s what we need. Scott’s folks give us money, but they also will buy something so the kids have something to unwrap. Santa is bringing a kitchen this year, so we told them to buy each of them a plastic grocery cart. They’re also adding to the duplo set. My stepfather and his wife have never met our kids and usually send clothes. My grandmother always sends money. Unfortunately, she sends cash. I have asked her not to, as we have had things stolen from our box before (last week in fact), but she is 94 and does what she wants.
We are seriously considering the problem of stuff. William’s birthday is in October and Mary Margaret’s is in January. Fortunately, in our families only the grandparents really pay attention to birthdays, which limits the amount of stuff to a degree. Right after William’s birthday I started picking up toys that the kids don’t really play with and hid them in the guest room. I figured if they didn’t notice they were gone, then I could give them away. So far they haven’t noticed, so the stuff is going to the VFW this week. They will clean everything up and give them away to children who don’t get much. In future years when the kids are old enough to understand better, they will be helping sort and give away stuff they no longer play with. We still have way too much stuff though. Hundreds of books and probably 60 puzzles. And puzzles have pieces. Ugh. So now that I’ve been through all this, I haven’t really helped, have I?
Oh gosh – that is my life too! I am much more ruthless with toys though. I get in these fugues where I can’t stand the site of another stray toy and I get brutal with bagging stuff up. While I have thrown away a lot of obvious junk, a lot of stuff is boxed up and taking up space that I could use for things I actually want to keep! And most of those things both girls have grown out of, so I have no real excuse not to truly cull it out. My girls are very sensitive to kids who don’t have as much as they do, although they don’t understand how that could be.