• Fri, Dec 20 - 3:00 pm ET

Call Me A Grinch But Don’t Give My Kid Any More Toys For Christmas

 

The_Grinch_(That_Stole_Christmas)My first son’s due date was January 9. It was no secret to anyone that pregnancy was hardly my favorite stage in life, and I was more than ready to get the show on the road. I remember joking with friends and family that I would be totally fine if my baby was a Christmas or New Year’s Eve baby. Sure, his birthday would be overshadowed by a major holiday, but hey – he’d be out of my vag sooner, so it was a win for me!

It should have been a foreboding omen of what parenting would be, but my birth timeline, of course, didn’t go according to plan. My son was eight excruciating days late. This made him far from a Christmas baby; he was born on January 17.

In retrospect, now that I no longer have an eight pound baby sitting on top of my bladder, I’m happy that my son has his own birth month outside of the holiday season. But, after the excitement of Christmas dies down, I have no freaking clue what to get the kid for his birthday.

As any amped-up, doting parents would do, we threw him a decent-sized first birthday party last year. We ended up telling everyone on the Facebook invite that it was entirely optional to bring gifts. (He’s only one! He won’t remember if you bring him something special, or nothing at all!)

We did figure that all of the generous birthday party attendees would probably bring gifts anyway, so we suggested clothing as a gift option – as tactfully as possible. Our house was filled to the brim with Christmas toys and all of the other crap that we just “had” to impulse-buy him off Amazon the other 11 months of the year. (Literally, we had five different toddler-sized push toys lined up between our entryway and the TV.)

So the clothing plan turned out to be a Godsend, especially since my one-year-old son was none the wiser. The people that opted to bring gifts gave us a ton of cute boy’s clothes that lasted throughout the rest of the year.

But now my first son’s second Christmas and birthday combo are rolling around again. I know it isn’t polite to dictate what anyone should or should not give you since that takes away from the spirit of giving. Really, we’ll be totally grateful for anything that is given, no matter how small, large, cheap, or expensive.

But if friends and family do ask, I’m going to play the Grinch this year. NO TOYS FOR CHRISTMAS!

This year, we have two sons: My older son is almost two, and my second son is seven months. So between the two of them, I’m going to bet that we’ll get even more baby and toddler-friendly toys that will turn our living room into a toy graveyard.

Perhaps if my first son had been born a Christmas baby as I had selfishly hoped, we’d be able to get this major toy problem under control. Family members would probably lump both of his gifts together and just get him one Christmas-birthday hybrid gift in the month of December. Of course, as he got older, he’d probably argue that his birthday was totally overlooked around the holidays, and he’d be right.

It’s almost sick to complain about having too many toys for a toddler because it feels like the utmost in “first world problems” of parenting. But as holidays and birthdays pass, and you add the second kid into the mix, toy overload becomes a reality – at least in our house.

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Lee

    I asked for zoo memberships and other gifts along the same lines for my 2 year old. Passes and memberships don’t take up any space in my living room.

    • Raquel

      oh I wish I would have thought of this earlier! what an excellent idea! we don’t have a zoo, but a membership to our science centre would be great.

    • Peggy

      I have twin boys, born on 12/29. Our house is about to explode, spewing hot wheels and trains everywhere. For their birthday this year, they are getting a membership for the children’s museum, and my mom gets us a zoo membership. It’s insanity here this time of year.

  • Véronique Houde

    Haha your first born was born a little bit after Christmas and my first born was born a day before halloween. Will I be the parent to combine halloween and her birthday? I hope not… I think she’ll probably want to keep those separate. But dude, with the presents, I’m totally the same! We actually only buy her one present for her bday and christmas (and last year I didn’t buy her anything – she was a month old!) because it’s my family’s pleasure to buy her stuff. But there’s sooo much stuff in this house!!! My baby boy will totally have to play with some pink toys ’cause i’m not buying the same crap in other colours!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yeah, the second kid gets nothing – for realz. Haha.

    • Natasha B

      Our third kids gets nothing. She’s 18months. There’s about 5 packages under the tree that are nice toys I saved from the older two toddler phase (duplo Legos, fancy wooden toys) that are wrapped prettily just for her haha. Win!

  • Paul White

    I’m kinda right there with you. My son doesn’t care a damn right now about toys (he’s 1 year) but I know people are gonna flood us with a bunch of things he doesn’t care about. I get the intent, it just seems silly

  • Whitney

    Since my family’s Christmas is in December, my in-law’s Christmas is in January (everybody works retail), and my toddler’s birthday is in February, I told all family members they could give to charity in his name if they wanted. I thought it was a sweet idea, but my sister-in-law called my husband in a fury, saying “I want to get him a real gift”. He’s two – he doesn’t care what he gets, or if he gets anything for that matter. I still don’t understand why it was such an offensive suggestion, but now I’m getting the silent treatment.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      I understanding telling family members not to go overboard and buy the whole toy store but they shouldn’t be discouraged from buying anything at all. People really enjoy buying presents for those they love and seeing the excitement and joy children have when they open a new gift.

  • Kay_Sue

    Not to mention, baby and toddler toys never seem to change that much. There’s nearly four years between my kids; everything that is in good shape and that was passed down from the oldest to the next is still relevant. It’s a pain in the butt.

    • MerlePerle

      I didn’t buy a single baby toy for either of my children. It all got passed down from cousins. Babys don’t really care if their ratlle is in pantones color of the year. :)

  • Vicki

    Our little one just turned 1 last week, so we’re in the same boat of trying not to over-do it and survive the holidays. We’re telling family members that our girls don’t need toys. We’ve asked them to give things they can get more out of like swim lessons, zoo membership, and circus classes (our 2 year old is learning the trapeze and tight-rope walking). Luckily our elf on the shelf put out a box that the girls had to fill with old toys for Santa to fix up for other kids if they wanted anything under the tree this year. Easy way to get rid of some of those old ones.

    • Bethany Ramos

      The Santa fix up idea is great!

    • Natasha B

      Memberships/lessons are the best gifts! We have one grandparents that gifts us a family zoo membership, and it is a life saver. Kids fav place on earth. Another grandparent is gifting our oldest with horseback riding lessons/gear. ‘Experiences’ make just as awesome gifts as toys :)

    • Natasha B

      Also, totally stealing the Santa box idea!!!!

    • MammaSweetpea

      Also good as they get older, are magazine subscriptions to Highlight, World and National Geographic. I really enjoyed that when I was a kid.

  • Janok Place

    Maybe ask for swimming classes or the like? Or you could recommend that, since your children have been blessed with such generous and loving relatives, they make a donation to charity on his behalf. Maybe get a Christmas present for kids in need? I totally get it. I hate toys. My daughter is 18 months and she has Coco, a stuffed monkey. She’s got lots of other toys, but in her mind, only Coco exists. Well, and the doll furniture she loves to stick him in.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Everyone has given such awesome ideas for his upcoming birthday, thanks!!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      You can also just clean out a ton of old toys knowing there will be some new, too. We do a big toy donation every year around this time because whether or not I buy them anything, relatives will. Works pretty well and good message for the kids.

    • Janok Place

      Our toy donation for Christmas thing only accepts new toys. And at that, the toys they ask you to buy are over priced and more then I would spend for my own kid (for what you’re getting…) That said, they still snagged me at the mall. Because the early twenties mom, heavily pregnant and chasing a toddler totally wants to buy over priced jigsaw puzzles. If they’d take my used toys I’d be so thrilled!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Damn, that sucks. We have a Salvation Army in our town, and I also have befriended a home day care (that my kids went to) who loves our used toys. Also, most school districts have a Parents as Teachers program that will give them to needy families, or the social workers/counselors at the elementary will know a family. So we have several places to go with our old toys. You could maybe try that?

    • Janok Place

      Well, I don’t affiliate with the Salvation Army for any reason, due to their political affiliations and stance against the LGBT. I do donate the toys to other thrift stores or cycle them to other moms. However at Chrsitmas time none of the gift giving associations are interested in used toys. Doesn’t really help anyone’s Christmas. And I still end up getting hit up to buy brand new snow suits and toys for the Christmas charities (something I don’t even buy my own kids…) I usually do it anyways… Especially the snow suits. I can afford to buy one new snow suit every year, and just because they have dumb rules doesn’t mean there aren’t still kids who really need it. Used ones are good enough for my daughter, they keep her warm and she doesn’t mind.

  • keelhaulrose

    Am I the only one who finds it kind of funny this was posted right above the STFU “Parents stop telling the childless what to do” post? The one that, you know, mentioned this very topic.

    • phoenix81

      Nope, that was my first thought.

    • Alicia Kiner

      NO, but in fairness, she did say SHE wasn’t buying her kids toys either, so at least it’s not a do as I say, not as I do thing.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      Yea I noticed it too. I wonder if it was done intentionally to make this a hot topic.

    • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

      I think the difference is, she is not posting her request on facebook.
      It sounds like she is only telling people who ask what to buy. At least
      that is what we did. Anybody who asked what to buy I said she adores
      clothes, especially if they are purple or sparkly, boardgames and books.
      If they didn’t ask, then we said thank you for whatever she received.
      Both my girls birthdays are around Christmas so we really get into
      present fatigue. One is November, one in January. It can be
      overwhelming.

  • Alicia Kiner

    My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow (Dec 21st). Considering my son was born in August and they both have so many toys you can swim in them, I don’t think it’s WHEN the birthday falls. It’s basic consumerism. Adults want to make children happy. Toys make children happy. Ergo, more toys = happier children. Except it doesn’t actually work that way.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    Not sure how I feel about this one. On the one hand, I get you don’t want your kids to have more toys than you can fit in your house but no one is obligated to get them anything so if they do and its not what you want, be thankful someone thought of your children enough to take the time to buy them something anyway.

    Sure, its nice when people ask what the parent what they should buy something that can be of good use but if you have more toys than your kid knows what to do with them, give it way to charity or to a family in need that may appreciate it.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I did cover all of this in my post – we don’t care who buys our kids gifts at all and are so grateful when it happens. If relatives are asking, this is what I’ve told them.

      ETA: I saw your comment above and totally get what you mean about people enjoying buying things for those they love. I love buying toys for kids too. :)

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Donate the old when you get too much new, is our system. We don’t buy our kids very much but we have huge families and they’re the last little kids. So we haven’t really stopped it, but we do donate toys each year.

    • Blueathena623

      I think when parents publicly state that they don’t want toys, people assume that they will act ungrateful if they receive them. I don’t want my kids to get more toys, but I am gracious to everyone.

  • thisshortenough

    My birthday is January 16th and I was always happy at birthdays. I think it was cause my mam just knew what I wanted from Christmas and either got one of the things for my birthday she hadn’t gotten me for Christmas or got me something similar. Then it just moved on to cash in cards when I hit 13.

  • PrairieCoast

    Our little guy’s birthday is December 30. I honestly don’t feel like we’re overrun with toys…yet (he’s only turning 2 this year). The one thing we try really hard to stick to is never buying him toys throughout the year. Okay, I do have a weakness for garage sale finds, but I try to limit that! He get ONE thing from us for Christmas and ONE thing for his birthday, and even one of those things might be practical. Other than that he’ll get a gifts from both sets of grandparents, two aunties, and maybe one friend. He’s still young enough that we can put some items received during Christmas/birthday time away and bring them out half way through the year, which is really awesome. I don’t know, it’s still early days in this parenting game for us, but so far I don’t relate to all these “too many toys” posts going around the internet.

    • ElleJai

      My DHs birthday is the 30th, and he said it was awesome that his parents insisted on celebrating it separately from Christmas, with a party and different presents. It’s hard to be overshadowed by the holidays but you can still make sure he gets his special day :)

  • Jessica

    One of my kids is born Dec. 10th, and another is born on December 29th (same day as my dad). My advice is that while they are young, and while storage allows, put some things in the closet to take out on rainy days in the spring. It’s like you are your own Citrus Lane! Also, I have noticed that my family only crazy overdid it the first few years. When they got to be 4ish and developed actual interests beyond Elmo, gifts started to reflect that and be less random.

  • momma425

    What does my daughter want for christmas? Something bright and messy that she can throw in the bottom of the toy box and forget all about in 3 days. What does she need for christmas? CLOTHES. Her darn little legs won’t stop growing out of her pants. Hahaha

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I’m concerned about my baby’s presents this year. There are enthusiastic grandparents, who (god love them) have mentioned giving him multiple things. We have a small home, but they have big hearts.

    Growing up, extended family gave me clothes. We had a single mom and needed practical things. I would love if my son were to get clothes and books, but unless I’m asked what he could use, I’ll be happy with anything.

    (And I have a policy that toys which cannot fit into the storage ottoman leave the house, so out with the old and in with the new)

  • SarahJesness

    Understandable. The kids are young and probably don’t really “get” Christmas, so it’s not unreasonable that you’d prefer practical items over cluttering your house with more toys that the kids probably wouldn’t care that much about. I’d make suggestions but I don’t know what two-year olds like or are capable of.

  • Simone

    Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
    From each family, not each person!
    I have made a no toys vow for my second child, now 15 months. He does not need them. He does not want them. He has plants, rabbits, blocks, books, a bear, saucepans, and a brother. Toys are at childcare and playgroup, not in my house.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I love that giving motto :)

    • BarlowGirl

      Blocks are toys?

    • Simone

      Yo. One of the few essential toys. Nothing that beeps, needs batteries, or breaks. Wooden blocks it is.

    • BarlowGirl

      But you have toys, though.

    • Blueathena623

      Blocks are awesome, awesome toys. You can stack them. You can stack them and then roll a ball into them. You can stack them in a way that they are like steps and you make your fingers or the itsy bitsy spider walk on them. If you have a wooden floor you hold them in your hands and use them to help you slide. Those are just a few suggestions that have entertained my toddler for extended periods of time.

    • BarlowGirl

      Bahahaha, cute :P I know at the library I work at, we have little bins in my felt/white board and the kids will sit there and play with those 4 bins for a LONG time. Imagination, man!

    • Blueathena623

      Totally. I’m not knocking people who have toys, and my kid does have more than the example above (balls, we have so many different types of balls, but we use them a ton of different ways), but it seems like with some toys they can only be used one or two ways. However, give me a cardboard box, and I can get a week’s worth of different activities out of it.

    • BarlowGirl

      I’m possibly turning more granola the older I get. I can make ANYTHING out of a paper plate XD

    • Jay

      He plays with plants? Rabbits? Some toys are obnoxious but really, only blocks? And wooden only? Blocks are blocks.

    • Blueathena623

      My kid’s favorite thing is to go outside, and yes he loves plants. Also loves animals.

    • ToninaMDC

      Wow. Just…wow. This made my heart ache.

    • Blueathena623

      Why? She has said he doesn’t want them. My kid has about the same wants.

    • Simone

      My happy, engaged, intelligent, funny, skill-developing, creative child makes your heart ache? Okay.

      Uninterrupted peoples – the ones who didn’t destroy their habitat – often have very few toys. Their children often play with smaller versions of adult items. Play is often the early practice of vital skills. When their lives are not filled with noisy plastic crap, they use their natural environment to recreate social scenarios and imaginative narratives.

      I’ll take my awesome kid over here and hope your heart feels better soon. Maybe you could buy yourself a toy to feel better.

    • Lala

      What?!? What do you think of others who have toys at their house? Toys help spark imagination. Sounds like maybe you didn’t really want kids if you don’t want anything that makes any sort of noise. Do you also not allow your children to cry in the house?

    • Blueathena623

      What the every loving . . . so, just because her kid doesn’t like a ton of toys, she must not want kids? Explain that logic.

    • Lala

      Ok so maybe I didn’t make the most sense there but what I was trying to get across (poorly) is that I don’t understand why people don’t want their kids to have toys especially noisy ones. Not saying your house has to be like a toy store but I do believe kids should have some toys (plenty of educational, non obnoxious ones out there). Clearly it is a difference of opinion but it just always baffles me when I hear things like the above from moms.

    • Blueathena623

      I don’t see anything about noisy toys in her comment. Maybe the bear makes noise. Believe me, saucepans make noise, a lot of it. The kid has an older brother who more than likely has some toys.
      At 15 months, the world is a toy store. And a lot of educational toys (at least the purpose behind them) can be duplicated with household items.
      At almost 2 yrs, my kid has some toys, but most of his favorite activities are based on him mimicking me. Unloading the dishwasher, pretending to cook, sweeping, clothes in the washer and dryer, puttiñg groceries up, etc.

    • Simone

      Well thank you, Athena. Children follow a universal pattern of development and as you say, toddlers are far more interested in mimicking life’s activities than playing with toys.

    • Blueathena623

      Yup, and I agree with your above comment about other groups of people where kids learn life skills early on and are very proficient (we may have read the same article/book!). It IS amazing how much they want to help at this stage, and much they get a kick out of doing mommy and daddy things. If throwing his yogurt cup in the trash gives him as much pleasure as playing with a race car, I will choose the trash can!

    • Lala

      If you scroll down she does mention about no toys that beep which maybe generalizing too much to mean all toys without noise

    • Simone

      Yes. It can be hard to understand that other people have thoughts that are different from your own, can’t it, Lala?
      Something to work on, perhaps.

    • Simone

      You know what, most toys don’t ‘spark imagination’ but rather dull it and limit it. Toy companies produce things that shriek, click and whirr when a button is pressed, eradicating the need for a kid to think or create with it. The toy quickly becomes boring, and voila! parents go to the shops to buy another toy because their kid is now bored with the old bunch.
      What do I think of others who have houses full of plastic crappy toys which will become landfill in ten years time? I think they’re lazy parents with no floor space and no interest in authenticity.
      Do I also not allow my child to cry in my house? Who the fuck do you think you are?

    • Lala

      Yes, in the great FIsher Price war, parents must align themselves with either toys or household items – there shall be no mixing of the two.

      Parents of children with toys must be enjoying watching their soap operas daily and boxes of wine while the toys play babysitter.

      My mind is void of creativity from all the toys in my house but at least my rugs/floors are clean since no crumb can penetrate the sea of toys that fill every room of my house.

    • Lauren

      This is kinda sad. Blocks, a bear and saucepans might be enough to entertain a 15 month old but you’re terribly misguided if you think he’s never going to want more toys when he’s older, especially when he sees all the toys his friends have. You don’t need to buy him a truckload of flashy, loud, plastic things but he deserves some of the classics; Lego/Duplo, trucks, trains, cars, dinosaurs, action figures etc. You know you can always donate whatever he gets bored with?

    • Blueathena623

      Why is it sad? The kids older brother probably has toys. The kid is 15 months old, and the commenter didn’t say that the kid would never ever get a toy in his life. In fact, some toys were even listed in the comment.
      I think people are reading way too much into this AND are confused about what 15 month old kids do. My almost 2 yr old has a speech delay in part because he doesn’t care about toys. So with most kids you ask them “do you want the ball?” And because they want the ball they attempt language. Except my kid for the longest part did not care about stuff — he cares about doing and moving. His favorite, by far, “toy” he had at that age, and beyond, was a set of stairs I made from 3 cardboard boxes of different sizes so he could practice going up and down steps. My god, he spent so much time on those steps.
      He has 3 favorite ways to spend time now: books (with pictures of real things, mostly), going outside (no toys) and running around the house using different movements (chase, crawling, tip toes, log rolling, commando crawling, jumping, etc.)

    • http://www.snapdeal.com/ Mohan

      If you need to go for some interesting game that can hold your kids interest then I would suggest http://www.snapdeal.com/product/lego-toy-story-trash-compactor/1002528027 which I too selected for my niece.

    • Blueathena623

      I don’t think all toys are awful, and we do have some, but I do agree that many toys only seem to have 1 purpose, maybe 2. The simpler the toy, usually the more uses you can get from it. Someone got my kid a bumble ball last year, which has lights and sings and moves around for kids to chase it. For the longest time he was scared of it, and just when he started to like it, the batteries died. I do, however, have a wide variety of plain balls in different sizes and materials, and we use them soooooo many ways.
      His only toy from my husband and I this year is a fisher price farm set (although I had to get it off eBay since the model I wanted was discontinued) because he loves the one at his SLP’s office so much and it encourages his language.

  • KaeTay

    so educational toys that help your kids develop are out? You know books can be seen as “toys”..

    • Bethany Ramos

      Books are an awesome gift!! I love books, so does my son.

  • KaeTay

    Here’s something my friend is doing. Her son’s are getting 4 presents each: something they want, something to wear, something they need and something to read. Consider this as an alternative.

  • himanshiarora

    There is not Option for celebrate the christmas by the Toys .

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  • Lala

    Some of these comments make me sad! I love buying toys for our children. But I do get that space is an issue for some. Basically we rotate them around. My daughter is maybe also a rare one and that she will play with all of her toys. I’m still surprised a lot of things she got last Christmas are still “hot” to her.

    My selfish desire: people call me to ask what to get for my kids. More so that they don’t get the same “big” gift I got for my children (especially if we are seeing them before holidays). This year planned our second Christmas for after holiday to avoid this. I know j can’t tell people what to get my kids and I never would but it would be nice if people called and asked. Maybe I feel this way because this is what we always did on maternal side of my family for my cousins and my mother in law would get super offensive if I even dared to ask (which warranted – but wouldn’t you also want ideas of what to get the kids especially because they aren’t around them enough to know!). Ok personal rant done :)

  • Nichole

    I have 2 boys born in January and we had this problem for the first 3 years before my grandmother had a genius idea. After the kids unwrap all their presents from Christmas, (they get a lot, I have a huge family and am the only one currently with kids) They pick 3-5 things to play with immediately depending on what it is. Everything else goes into the big rubbermaid tubs with their names on it, same with their b-days. Then once a month throughout the year they get to “exchange” an old toy for a new toy in the tubs. If the old toy is in good shape we donate it to the church nursery or the local food pantry which has a play area for kids while they wait for their parents. It works great, especially since otherwise their whole year is pretty much blown in two months of excitement and presents.

  • Elisianna

    I am so glad my mom and siblings don’t celebrate Christmas, my husbands mom is a recluse that doesn’t shop, and I don’t really have many friends at all. I hate toys and I hate having a lot of stuff in the house. If it ever got out of hand I would probably give a bunch of stuff away.

  • MammaSweetpea

    I hear this!! My second child is a January baby, my third is a March baby. Because they are a year apart, they were often given the same toys each Christmas, as if they were twins. We also had a son who was about 3 years older, who also go toys. So before the birthdays even rolled around we were tripping over toys! There is no shame in asking for certain things for your child, after all you are the one who has to deal with the clutter of it all. And clothes are much more of a necessity than toys.

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  • http://himanivakarian.tumblr.com/ Himani

    I give books to the kids I buy presents for. I try to get ones on subjects the kid likes. i.e. a book on construction vehicles if the kid likes Bob the (goddamn) Builder.
    I love it when my kids get books or gift cards to book stores. It’s awesome. More people should give books.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Totally agree! And LOL @Bob the (goddamn) Builder.

    • thefluter

      I love getting my nieces and nephews books! I might even have a huge excel spreadsheet of books — that I loved, that won awards, that have been recommended to me by others — categorized by age, so that I can have a starting point when it’s birthday time. It might be a little bit of overkill, but it works for my organization-loving mind :)

    • ElleJai

      Is there any way to get a copy of that spreadsheet? It sounds like a spreadsheet of awesomeness!

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  • EcnoTheNeato

    I give books to my smaller cousins for this reason. That and I’m a bit of a nerd, and my girlfriend a librarian. So it only seems appropriate ^_^

  • Crowther Amanda-Beth

    I totally get it. Im November 23 baby and my one soster being born jan 25 just escpe the wrath and my brother ten yrs younger then me dec 14 pst its not the gifts they remember its party or lack their of for tjeir birthday tjey remember and icstill stew from time to time that i only got one party i remember. Don’t worry till age 3 and from age 3 to 17 jjst makes sure thay have birthday party. Even if party is just birthday dinner to restaurant of their choice.

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