The holidays are right around the corner and I’m having some anxiety about that. I love the holidays because it means a lot more family time. What I don’t love is all the extra stuff that comes with it. My kids are spoiled and loved. Usually that means they are going to get a lot of stuff. They like stuff. They like playing with toys. They definitely have their favorites and many toys just sit untouched. It’s almost shameful how much they have. But they love getting stuff from loved ones. It’s their love language.

Our family of 5 recently did an out of state move. We are currently living in an apartment. That means our toy room is gone. Our basement is gone. We’re down to one living space that is for our whole family. I don’t want it filled with toys. We will be in the apartment for the holidays. The toys will not be joining us. They are sitting in a storage container. I’m realizing that my kids (and I’m guessing most kids) don’t need a lot to be entertained. Each of my children were allowed to bring one set of toys to our apartment. Legos, doll stuff and a little play house were the chosen few. And books. Because books are not toys and I love books.

My kids are doing great with so few toys. They are playing well together and using their imaginations. They are not bored! While I was more than happy to put hundreds of toys away in storage, I was a little nervous about how they would handle so few items. So far, it’s proving to be no big deal. In fact, I think it’s better. If it continues, the toys might not be moving back in to our house after all.

Like I said before, holidays are coming. Please don’t feel like you need to get my kids anything. They have everything they need and more. But I get that gift giving is tradition, so I won’t tell you you can’t. But may I kindly suggest some ideas? Less stuff and more experiences. I promise I feel like this whether we’re in a tiny apartment or a big house. But I want to make it known this year because we don’t have room for one more thing in this apartment.

For the first time since having kids, we live near some family. Doing something special would be a great gift. When I was younger, my birthday present every year from my aunt was an overnight at her house. It was great. My sister and I went together and we’d order pizza, go out for ice cream and stay up late playing Monopoly.

I like to have my kids involved in activities but it gets expensive. Sports, dance class, music class, swim lessons etc. Money towards those thing would be appreciated by mom and dad and thoroughly enjoyed by the kids. They like to be able to do those things. Playing baseball is just as much fun as playing Legos. My son will still think you’re fabulous!

Gift cards are also great. Especially if it’s something we can all enjoy as a family. Movie passes. Zoo membership.

I’ve preached this over the years and I think people are getting it. Last year our family was gifted money towards a magical vacation in Disney World with grandma. They are still talking about it and all the wonderful memories made.

Often times, less is more! I want my kids to know that people are what matters; not the things.

Memories, experiences and time with family is priceless. Those are the greatest gifts. Those are the gifts that will be remembered for years to come. At the top of my kids’ wish lists is family. Sure they love toys, what kid doesn’t? But what they really want is to sit on your lap and read a book or enjoy a trip to the zoo with you or do a puzzle with your help and encouragement. Your presence in their lives is more than present enough.

Alissa Kay

Alissa was born and raised in the Midwest and currently calls Wisconsin home. She's happily married to her college sweetheart and she's living out her dreams of being a stay-at-home mom. Although, let's be real, she's hardly ever home. She's the mom to 3 kids who all came to her via adoption. A boy (8) and 2 girls (6 and almost 4!). The kids keep her plenty busy, but when she has free time she enjoys a night out with friends or curling up with a good book.