Well, it’s that time of year again, when the Facebook parenting boards are full of “what is the best gift for a … year old”, followed by lots of the suggestions of the next big thing. I remember the year my eldest child turned 1 and his first Christmas (5 days apart), being overwhelmed by the number of gifts we were given, more toys than any little boy needed. I hope I am not sounding ungrateful, I know that they signified the love our extended family and friends felt for our son, and that makes me feel blessed, but accumulation of “stuff” is very stressful.
So, here are some tips on not adding to the clutter, the landfill, the waste of resources when receiving gifts this festive period:
1. Think about longevity, how long will they play for it for? A piece of equipment that will grow as your child grows is an investment. Ask friends with older children what they are still playing with a year or so down the line.
2. Think about asking a group of relatives to club together for something bigger that is worthwhile, like some outdoor play equipment.
3. If you have more than one child, think about joint presents. We have done this for the last 3 years and have had no objections from our 3 children. It has meant that we could buy a big something, instead of 3 small somethings. This year we are thinking of doing it again, and getting a play frame with slide for the garden. This may have to change as they get bigger and needs change, but so far, so good!
4. Think of a main present, and ask relatives to buy add ons – our Brio train set was a great example of this – we bought a set, extended family bought add on bits, and the result is the ability to make enormous train tracks. Lego and Happy Land are 2 other things that work well like that.
5. Think about experiences rather than gifts. One of the best presents we have received for the last 8 years is National Trust membership from my mum. It results in fabulous days out, all year round. My sister also gets us a pass for a local outdoor museum. The children know that that is there present from Nana and Aunty Sarah and are thrilled.
6. Think about asking a grandparent to buy a course of classes or an activity instead of a gift. One year, my mother in law bought a term of Tumble Tots classes for my eldest son. He loved them and everytime we went, I mentioned that they were a Christmas gift from his Gran, so again he didn’t feel he was missing out.
What do you think? Do you think I am being mean at this Festive time, or do you have tips to share on using less resources and celebrating?