The holidays are quickly approaching and as you are sitting there looking around your home, you might be wondering where in the world you’ll fit another toy. You also might want to limit the physical gifts this year and focus more on family time. Whatever your reason is, you understand it because it’s your household, but family members might not totally be on board yet. It is a difficult conversation to have with family members, especially those who love to spoil your little ones, but it’s important to you, so be sure to communicate your wishes (and do so early!) with everyone.

When you talk with family members, be positive and thank your family for loving your children so much. You know how much it means to them, to see your little ones so happy, but there are other ways to make your children just as happy, without too many toys. Remind family members that birthdays and other holidays happen throughout the year, which provide other opportunities for gifts. 

crop black mother passing christmas gift to smiling daughter

Some family members will be insistent on purchasing something for your child this year, and maybe something is okay with you too. Consider sharing a particular gift your child wants or tell family members a type of toy your child might enjoy. By offering some direction, the family members won’t be able to freely purchase anything and everything they see. You might even want to ask for family members to stick to a certain budget or number of gifts, this is another way to ensure the family isn’t going overboard this holiday season. 

The holiday season, after all, is not about the gifts but it’s really about family. This is an important lesson you might be working on with your children.  Explain to the family that you cherish all of the time you spend together and you want your children to learn to appreciate family time as well. The holidays can be just as special and just as fun, with less focus on gifts and more focus on family.

dad hugging her daughter while holding a rabbit plush toy

 If you decide to implement a “no gift” policy this year, it’s helpful to also come to the table with some solutions, as some family members might insist on doing something special for your child. Here are a few gift alternatives to suggest this holiday season, all of which can cost as little or as much as you’d like, if a budget is important to you too!

  • Encourage shared experiences  – this might include tickets to an aquarium or season passes to a local zoo. Maybe plan a day trip to a children’s museum with a picnic in the park
  • Create keepsakes together – think along the lines of those “paint and take” experiences, where your child can paint a canvas or ceramic piece. This can also be recreated at home by making ornaments for a tree together or decorations to hang up for a holiday party
  • Exchange quality time for gifts – set up a movie night in the living room with blankets and pillows galore, order a favorite meal, make ice cream sundaes, spend the day sledding or having a snowman building contest

If your family members insist on wrapping up a gift, because they want to watch your little one open something – have them print out a ticket or picture of the experience they are gifting and tape it to a favorite cereal box or snack, this is the best of both worlds because there is a tangible gift to open, but it is something practical that you know will be enjoyed!

The best way to limit gifts from family this holiday season is to communicate your expectations early and find creative ways to keep the magic of the holiday season alive. However you choose to celebrate the holidays, relish in the laughs, the memories, and the quality family time, as this is what the holiday season is all about. Wishing you and your family all the best this holiday season!

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