Downsizing our kids’ toys was hard. But it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for them, hands down. I’ll never go back to the stress and frustration that comes with mountains of toys.

One of the questions that comes up the MOST when people find out how few toys we actually keep is, “But how do you get family and friends to go along with this for birthdays and holidays?”

First of all. We’re the parents. We make the rules. We decide how our kids are raised. OK, now that we got that out of the way.

We basically just let our families know we were changing up how we did things. Birthday wish lists and Christmas lists were now going to be filled with different things. That was it!

Thankfully, our families were OK with it and it was an easy change. But I know it probably wouldn’t be that easy for everyone. So, to those people who would face more opposition, my advice to you would be to put your foot down on the subject and move on. If your family doesn’t want to cooperate with you, be blunt and let them know if they don’t want to participate, then that’s up to them. You don’t want any more toys. That’s it. 

Something I think helps with the inevitable freak out from friends and family is having an alternative wish list—a list full of things other than toys. So if you’re thinking about downsizing, but need ideas for what to ask for (besides toys) for birthdays and holidays, here are some ideas: 

Specific toys.

We do still buy them toys, believe it or not, but we put a LOT of thought into what we bring into our home. Which means no more dollar spot toys because “They’re only $1.” We think about what will actually be used and what will last. If our families want to buy them a toy, we’re sure to give specific details on the specific toy(s) we’re looking for.

Cash for their savings accounts.

Most toys are exciting for the week of Christmas (or sometimes only the day of) and then forgotten about. Destined to be added to the pile. Savings accounts can be kept/built for years and given to them when they need to buy their first car or need a laptop for college or need a deposit on their first apartment!

Cash or gift certificates for experiences.

Things like the zoo, mini golf, an aquarium, bowling, a safari, or a trampoline park are awesome experiences for the whole family and a chance to make memories and take pictures that will last a lifetime! Spending cash on experiences is a much better alternative than more toys.

Restaurant gift cards.

Eating out is expensive, but it’s one of our favorite things to do as a family! We love taking the kids to sit down restaurants. Yummy food, I don’t have to cook, and a great opportunity to practice our manners. 

Things they need.

Clothes, toothbrushes, winter jackets, the list goes on!

Store gift cards.

Gift cards are much cheaper to send than boxes full of things, so it’s a great option. They’re also good to have on hand for when a need comes up—shoes in the next size, a dress shirt, diapers, or formula!

Making memories and having things they need is much more important than buying more and more toys. Toys won’t last beyond this lifetime, but your memories will.

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page


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Leah Gentry

My name is Leah Gentry, I’m a Marine wife, a stay-at-home mama to three kiddos and the cutest boxer ever, and a social marketer all wrapped up into one. So I wear a lot of hats! I love living life to its fullest, and becoming the best version of my self every day is my goal!