Thursday, September 29, 2011

No clutter for Christmas

Christmas gifts for my kids have thankfully never been a problem. I'm blessed with pretty generous children who don't ask for much, and at home we've stuck with the three-gift rule from us. (Santa and siblings are the exceptions.)

This year, I have our "birthday-Christmas" gifts fairly well planned out, and truthfully they lean on the practical side this year. My son, who turns four five days before Christmas, will be getting more than his share of clothes, a "big boy" booster seat, a lunch box for all-day preschool next fall (he likes to pack a "lunch" for daycare too), and a few fun items, like a small stash of Cars toys. My crafty daughter is being blessed with jewelry-making supplies and a book, some books and clothes, and tickets to the princess Disney on Ice show in January. Santa, knowing the kids' interest in lacrosse, is splurging on a kid-size lacrosse set for the pair.

But when it comes to gifts for the kids from family members, I'm always searching for ideas. The truth is, we don't have a lot of room for large toys, or little things that clutter the space up, for that matter. We've worked hard to purge cuddle friends and other outgrown toys, and we're working on workable systems to store the rest when not out in use.

I'm thankful that my kids are more interested in experiences than stuff. I get fewer complaints about a friend having toy X than not getting to attend Girl Scout camporee or ice skating or trying out tae kwon do at the parks department, for example. But when you factor in a family of four, even going out adds up quickly. A $15 per person trip to the Children's Museum is suddenly a large chunk of your grocery budget.

Not that I'm one to say "no presents under the tree," but given high shipping costs and long distances, perhaps the gift of experiences is a far better deal than anything else. If you're looking for ideas this holiday season for your loved ones far away, you might consider giving gift certificates or memberhips for the family to experiences like:

  • art classes

  • a day at the zoo or aquarium (or a special event)

  • children's museums

  • sponsoring a scout or Camp Fire activity

  • contributing toward athletic activities like a class or team at the parks department (Great for burning off energy in the winter!)

  • tickets to a sporting event - even the "cheap seats" or the minor league team are thrilling to a kid!
What are your great ideas for clutter-free gifts for kids?

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