This is a post that I wrote for the Holistic Moms Network that I thought some of you might could use. Many of us are trying to get away from the “stuff” aspect of the holiday season and focusing on the real meaning of the season.
Well, folks, here is the big question--how do we work with our relatives so that our kids don't end up with a bunch of "stuff" that they don't need and/or we don't want them to have (plastic, violent toys, etc). Below are some ideas to help:
- Use the economy as a starting off point--"Let's do a gift exchange this year"..."Limit the gift to $10" Other ideas include a gift swap, giving only handmade gifts, or giving only stocking stuffers. Suggest that they give a savings bond or another long term savings gift for your child's future.
- Use last year’s big wave of toy recall news as a starting off point--"With all of the recent recalls, I'm really concerned about Little Johnny playing with things that aren't made locally."
- Use the BPA in toys and toxins issue as a starting off point--forward research about BPA in toys, suggest they go to places that focus on selling safe toys (Cutie Tooties in Knoxville or on line is a good source), or circle toys in catalogs such as Nova Naturals for gift ideas
- Suggest a donation in your child's honor to a charity that he/she picks out. Lots of families enjoy picking out a gift to Heifer Project International www.heifer.org
- Suggest a big gift for all family members to chip in on.
- Do a wish list on line—A friend of mine has used one with Amazon.com with great success. Many other stores have them now.
- Suggest something experiential for the child--a zoo membership, dance lessons, roller skates (I just realized I dated myself) blades, etc. My cousins gave each family member a movie ticket one year, and we all went to the movies together. It was so much fun.
- Go ahead and say something to family members if you are planning on scaling back, and they might take a clue with that. Of course, this could backfire. In my family when I'm bringing up frugal stuff (and you know me, that is all the time) I sometimes get these pitiful looks from people like they think that I'm indigent. I guess I would follow this up with something about focusing on the importance of family in the holiday season instead of gifts.
- Suggest clothes--they aren't as much fun to give for older kids, but they are often needed and appreciated by the parents. A friend of mine suggested to people that they give her daughter fun and colorful tights because she so enjoys wearing them. This was fun for her and her mom also appreciated receiving them.
I hope others might have some good ideas to add. Please feel free to post them in the comments section.