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Do you detest the extra clutter that the holidays can bring into your home? Perhaps it’s time to talk to friends and family gifts and how to make it a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for all involved.
Talking to Friends and Family About Gifts
It’s a question that I seem to get every year around this time….
“We want to have less in our home and our children really don’t need anything else…but how do we tell friends and family without hurting their feelings?”
I know the feeling, you want to make your friends and family happy by letting them give gifts to your children and your family but deep down inside you know that the toy/item is just going to get tossed aside after about 5 minutes and it will eventually turn up behind the washing machine, totally forgotten. If you are trying to live a simpler lifestyle, extra gift clutter and stress can really be a weight on your home and your heart.
–If you are just getting into simple living, I would highly recommend my workbook, 31 Days to Simpler Living.
We all know that when our children have so many things they just can’t focus on something new. They will stick to their favorites. But how do you express this to your friends and family without hurting anyone’s feelings? Here are a few ideas…
Give Them an Experience Alternative
If you aren’t doing gifts or are only doing a few gifts, give your friends and family a gift alternative. When they ask what your children want or need this year, be honest and tell them that you aren’t really doing many material gifts and would love to spend time with them instead. Suggest a trip to a museum together, or a camping weekend together in the summer, or something similar. Let them give the gift of an “experience” rather than a physical item. The benefits of this time of gift will be reaped and appreciated by you and your children for years to come! You could also ask for memberships to museums or other activities that you and your children can enjoy over and over.
Ask for Items That Can Be “Used Up”
This is another great alternative to traditional gifts that may not be used and will sit around. Ask for gifts that can be “used up”. Some of my favorites are food gifts, science kits, art and craft kits, etc.
When Something Comes in, Something Goes Out
If you’d rather not have the conversation at all and are open to your family giving your children gifts, another alternative is to give away, sell, or donate one old toy for each new one they bring in. That way no extra clutter is added to your home and your child won’t be overwhelmed with toys. We try and practice this rule year round with toys and clothing.
–Also see 100 Frugal Free Gifts for Toddlers
Something that we’ve done in the past few years is to be specific when family and friends ask us about gifts. I usually begin keeping a list a few months before the holidays of the things that the kids can use. That way, when we are asked, I can give plenty of suggestions AND we can actually use and need the gifts that we are given.
Give the Gifts to Someone Else
Another great option is to adopt another family for Christmas with your extended family. Not only are your extended family (or friends) showing your children a beautiful picture of giving, but another family is getting to enjoy the blessing of Christmas whereas they may not have been able to on their own.
Have a Homemade Christmas
While this option still has gifts for your family involved, they are much more likely to get fewer gifts and more meaningful and well thought out gifts. This should be a pretty simple one to explain to your friends and family and one they may very well appreciate if their budgets are tight!
–Here are some Homemade Gifts for Kids
These are just a few ideas of alternatives for gift giving at Christmas with friends and family. You may also want to read my post on Christmas Family Gift Exchange ideas and how we keep the focus on the gifts to a minimum in our household so we are able to focus on the reason for the season and other fun Christmas traditions as well.
Looking for some Handmade, Homemade Gift Ideas? Check these out:
If you are looking to simplify your life even further, you may want to check my eWorkbook, 31 Days to Simpler Living! In it, you will find 79 pages of daily challenges, info and advice, and printable worksheets and checklists to keep you on track along your journey.
Make sure to share your best tips and advice on talking to your friends and family about gifts in the comment section! I want to know what works for you.
This post on Talking to Friends and Family about Family Gifts was originally published on Little House Living in December 2014. It has been updated as of October 2019.