I’ve decided not to tell people what to get our kids for Christmas this year.

This comes after a few year stretch of asking and hinting to our family to get the kids “experiences” or things that they can do, you know, something practical. It is a common topic right now around gift giving, and it definitely isn’t wrong or bad.

However, for us, I felt like it was taking some of the joy out of gift giving for our family. It seemed like my mom felt like she had to “ask permission” before she gave a gift to any of our kids. She’d often run ideas past me over and over again to make sure that it fit within our new, unwritten “gift-giving guidelines.”

Ugh…not my intention.

As much as I love simplifying and getting rid of excess, I know that I can’t push my value for it onto others. If they adopt if for themselves, awesome! If they don’t, awesome!

And while Christmas is about so much more than gifts, it is also about gifts, and gifts aren’t bad. They are an expression of love. Yes, this can get distorted, and inevitably there will be some gifts that we buy out of obligation, but the gift-giving between my family and our kids (ages 1-6), is love…and joy…and fun.

And I don’t want to get in the way of that.

The exception:

Of course there is an exception to all of this, if anyone asks me for ideas for our kids, I will gladly tell them:

The absolute best gift you could give the kids (and I) is to take them for a day or afternoon and go the movies/zoo/children’s museum.

But this is just if they ask…and some family members do…and some don’t…and that is OK!

Will my kids likely end up with more toys than they need this Christmas?


But I’ll pack some of them away to take out during the long winter days of January and February. And a week or two after Christmas, when the newness has worn off, the kids and I will go through all of their toys (old and new), and decide which to keep and which to donate so that they all fit in their toy bins again.

So, we’ll see how it goes this year. We may have to adjust again for next year, but that is life :)

And I truly hope that you are enjoying this special season with your family and friends! It goes so quickly doesn’t it!?!



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Yes, and amen.


This is a great post. (I’m reading it very very late)and I agree! My nine year old always has a hard time letting things go, even the mini rubber chicken from the arcade :) because everything holds so much meaning so now we talk about how each nice gift has a season and even the gift giver knows that so it’s ok to give it away for someone else to enjoy. That has helped.. And letting him sell a few things on my app had eased giving away things as well lol. Anyway hands down you are my favorite blog. I feel like we are the same person. Keep posting! :)


Wow Mary, thank you (thank you, thank you!) so much for the kind words! And I love the idea of each gift having a season…whenever we have to pare down the toys again I ask the kids “what kind of boy or girl do you think would like playing with this toy next?” and then they start describing kids and thinking about how excited the next kid will be to get it…I love how pure their hearts are! And I can definitely see how allowing them to sell things as they get older could be incredibly helpful. Our oldest is only seven so we haven’t gotten to that bridge yet, but that’s a really great idea :)


So I have an opposite kind of question. We have been *mostly* living with less for the last 7 years. My kids have gotten used to it and when they (or we) are asked what they want, they really don’t want anything. It makes the grandparents crazy because they WANT to give them all. the. (thoughtful). things.

What do you tell people when your kids want to open gifts because who doesn’t enjoy that…but they don’t really want the stuff. And I’d prefer a few thoughtful or useful things but not a ton of junk from Dollar Tree.


How about things to give to some place they care about? For example, if a local organization collects school supplies and toys to distribute to kids in need, or a local animal shelter, homeless shelter, etc needs supplies? The kids could receive something to open, share what they care about with their grandparents, and be excited to be able to contribute….?

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