Before your children open every single thing under the tree, go grab two unopened presents and put them on top of your refrigerator. Or in your closet. Or on the mantle. Got it? Good. Carry on and enjoy the festivities. Open the gifts. Have some lovely breakfast. Have a mimosa. Or two.
Now, you see those piles of crumpled up paper al over your living room floor? Is your cat or dog walking around with numerous shiny bows attached to its fur? Are there empty doll and Lego boxes and those terrible, annoying, silver metal twist-ties all over the place? Your children do not get one of the reserved gifts until all of those things are picked up and placed in the garbage can. The outside garbage can. Or at the very least, in a big black garbage bag in the garage.
Carry on enjoying your holiday. Eat a lot of delicious food. Watch a holiday movie together. Play with toys. Play board games. Drink some wine. Read your kids a book. And when they ask you if they can open the last remaining gift, say no.
When your children awake the next morning and you have enjoyed some coffee, hand them each a large box or bag and tell them that they are to fill it with toys they no longer play with, that can they be donated to your local charity shop. Discard any puzzles missing pieces or broken toys and send them right back up to their rooms until they have found some good toys they have outgrown. I’m not suggesting they give away beloved items they still play with, but every parent knows our kids have many things lost at the bottom of the closet or toy box. Things that many children would be thrilled to have. When they have completed their donation boxes, then and only then can they have the last unopened gift.
Now you have made them clean up all the holiday mess so you don’t have to do it alone, made room in their toy boxes for all of their new gifts, and taught them that one of the most fun things they can do in the world is to give charitably. Make your husband or partner drive the boxes to the donation center while you relax and congratulate yourself on what a clever mom you are. I know this is what I’ll be doing.