I know exactly how you’re feeling. You’re drowning in toys. Many are rarely used, and you dread the thought of adding to the chaos by putting too many gifts under the Christmas tree. You dream of a Magical, No-Toy Christmas. But, at the same time, you long to see your kids light up when they rip into wrapping paper on Christmas morning. So what do you do?
The answer is easier than you think! You can plan a No-Toy Christmas with all the Christmas Magic.
Benefits of No-Toy Holiday
First, let’s remind ourselves why we need a No-Toy Christmas. Sure, the overflowing toy bins are responsible for some of your stress and anxiety. But your kids are also at a disadvantage when they are swimming in ‘stuff’.
Here are the major benefits of planning a Christmas without new toys.
- Focus shifts to the non-materialistic aspects of Christmas.
- You avoid new clutter, and therefore added stress.
- You will likely save money.
- Fewer toys drive increased creativity in your kids.
- Fewer toys help your kids develop longer attention spans.
- Kids become resourceful.
- Kids will appreciate and take care of the items they have.
Less Clutter, Extra Magic
When you shift the focus from materialistic presents to the non-materialistic aspects of Christmas, you’ll discover many more opportunities for true magic. For example, I like to focus on acts of service, gratitude, and creating lasting memories with my girls. There are many holiday themes you can choose to focus on.
Here are a few magical ideas you can use to guide family activities and discussions instead of giving gifts:
- Acts of service
- Creating lasting memories
- Religious or spiritual worship
- Sing holiday songs
- Developing social skills
- Cooking and baking
- Learning the history of the holidays
- Classic holiday movies
- Creating holiday art and crafts
- Exploring nature during the holiday season
- Holiday book discussions
- Creating ornaments and decorations
- Recount memories from the previous year (go through photos)
My suggestion is to take a couple of these ideas and plan several activities over the holiday season. If your family enjoys nature, you might plan several nature outings over a couple of weeks. For example, you could do a nighttime nature walk with flashlights, a sunrise stroll by a lake or river, tell heartwarming stories around a cozy bonfire on a fairly warm evening, and take the sleds to a nearby park after the first snow.
Get creative! You can easily find activities to last you a few weeks, without having any discussions about toys!
New Life to Old Toys
Children who are accustomed to getting shiny new toys for every holiday might express disappointment (or downright anger). Thats ok! We can ease some of that disappointment by giving their existing toys a makeover.
First, I highly recommend going through a great toy purge. You can check out my 7 Easy Steps to Stop Drowning in Toys to get started. Once you’ve identified all your ‘keepers’, clean them up! Wash dirty toys thoroughly (Hint: Some plastic toys can go in the dishwasher). If you find any toys that need touched up or repainting, take the time to do this for your kids. They will appreciate the effort since they are not getting any new items!
You might also want to pull out a couple of favorite toys and store them out of sight until Christmas Day. When toys go missing for a while, they seem to have a new life when they are rediscovered! This is why some parents are so fond of rotating toys on a regular basis.
How to Set Expectations
It’s not a good idea to spring your Magical No-Toy Christmas on your kids at the last minute. You should set the expectation upfront! I think it’s a good idea to introduce the idea slowly. During your initial conversation, you could have a conversation about how you want to focus on a few themes this Christmas. You could even ask your kids to think about activities for the family that align with these themes.
Eventually, you will explain that you have decided that there will be no new toys for Christmas. You may still choose to give presents, but they will be items that are needed (clothes, toiletries) or non-toy items (an art class, gym membership). I personally don’t consider books to be toys, so my kids know they will be getting books for gifts for virtually every gift-giving occasion. The rules are up to you, of course, but it’s important to make them clear! It will help you avoid disappointment on Christmas Day.
No-Toy Gift Ideas
You can still give gifts without giving toys! You may want to set a limit, but you could still choose to give gifts. Here are a few non-toy gift ideas:
- Favorite Snacks
- Educational Workbooks
- Art Supplies
- Classes (Art, Swimming, Sports, etc)
- Magazine Subscriptions
- Recipes or Baking Mixes
- Musical Instruments
- Science Equipment (microscope, telescope, bird feeder)
- Subscription Boxes
- Event Tickets
- Zoo or Museum Memberships
- Movies (Digital Codes are best!)
- Photo Albums
- Bedroom Decor
Did You Skip Ahead?
No Problem! Here are the 5 Big Takeaways:
- Everyone benefits from less stuff, especially kids.
- You can add extra holiday magic by focusing on non-materialistic themes like gratitude and acts of service.
- Surprise kids by giving old toys new life and hiding a few favorites until Christmas Day.
- Set expectations well before Christmas Day to avoid disappointment.
- Non-Toy Gifts are OK in moderation!
You can have a truly Magical No-Toy Christmas with just a little planning, and a few heartfelt conversations with your family. Do you have any great non-toy gift ideas? Share them in the comments below!