You’ve called the sitter; you’ve cleared your calendar, and you’re making bacon at 6 am on a Saturday. You’ve got your list, your hat, and your gloves for what promises to be a long day standing in lines, dealing with store clerks, and cramps from crossing your fingers and praying that they have everything your child wants this year. Does this sound familiar?
We’re all used to sharing our affection through gift-giving. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but is it actually sending a heartfelt message to our children? In a season of gratitude and family, it’s important that we have our priorities in alignment.
This is something that I’ve thought about extensively, and I know plenty of other moms who think about the same things. So in order to present a little grounding on this subject, I’ve decided to go against the grain and play devil’s advocate. In this article, you will find some thoughts that may help you to opt for a toy-free Christmas. This probably isn’t right for everyone, and I’m not suggesting that this needs to become a societal mandate. However, it’s an interesting subject to theorize about. And it can be relatively easy to make small incremental changes that nurture your children’s sense of adventure and wonder, rather than their need for the latest action figure.
7 Reasons for a Toy-Free Christmas
1. Kids will remember the memories, not the stuff.
Sure the fancy wrapping and the awesome new remote control car are cool—but will they still be playing with it in March? Probably not. But they will remember putting out cookies for Santa (and carrots for the reindeer). It isn’t the toys that are important, it’s the fact that Dad was able to help put it together with your child and that they see that they are valued and loved.
2. It encourages an experience-driven holiday.
What if instead of gifts you went on a vacation packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences? When you take out materialism from the holidays, you're left with the real goodies: memories and traditions.
3. It fosters a life-long spirit of giving and acceptance of a nonconforming lifestyle.
Help your children understand that sometimes in life they need to be free to break away from tradition and make choices that help them to find their own purpose. Sometimes, you’ve got to teach your kids that it’s okay to break away from the mold.
4. It requires more thoughtfulness when giving.
When you’ve got to give something unique, you're more focused on the joy the other person will get from your gift...and it requires you to really think. Any parent can go to the toy aisle and choose something; however, getting them something they actually want requires a degree of knowledge of what your children really care about. And when you can show them that you “get them,” it results in drawing the two of you closer. And if you still don’t know what to get them, try just giving them the gift of your “time.” Especially if you are a busy working mom who travels a lot. You’d be amazed at how special a trip to the zoo can be!
5. You can use the money saved to buy a large experience for the whole family.
Your kids can photograph it, journal about it, and share it on social media. Create memories.
6. If your child has more than they could ever need or want, consider another gift idea.
Adding to their possessions continues to foster materialism. Instead, help them focus on others, on relationships, and on experiences that last.
7. Removing toys from the gift options allows for other items to fill their place.
Some non-toy ideas:
- tickets to an event
- a cooking class
- a monthly craft subscription
- audio books
- a coupon book with outings they would love
- restaurant gift cards
- parents quit smoking
- visiting their favorite loved ones who live far away
- a new pet (teaches responsibility and compassion)
- an instrument (requires practice and patience)
- an art set (teaches discipline and instills creativity)
In order to create a toy-free Christmas, you’ve got to think outside-the-box. Wherever possible, find creative gifts that will either have a lot of meaning or will inspire your children for years to come. Do you have any stories about your toy-free Christmas celebrations? Tell us in the comments!