It’s that time again. The holidays. Your kids already have a mountain of toys spewed throughout the living room, and what do they get for Christmas? More toys. More things they’ll play with for two weeks then get bored of and never pick up again until you say you’re going to take them away.

What is a minimalist to do? If you’re like me, clutter drives you crazy, but you don’t want to take away from your child’s joy by getting rid of all the toys they’ve been gifted for birthdays, holidays, and just because. I’ve come up with a solution. Teach your children the joys of making other people happy by going through the house together and gathering up old toys you can donate to a less fortunate family, or the local thrift store. Ask, do you need this toy? Or would it be better if we gave it to another child who would love it? This not only decliners your home, it teaches your kids that giving can be just as rewarding. Try wrapping the toys before you give them to a family to make it more exciting.

Now on the other end of the spectrum, what should you get your little one for the holidays? We do the rule of four.
One thing they want.
One thing they need.
One thing to wear.
And one thing to read.

Of course, I also fill a stocking full of goodies like candy, maybe a stuffed animal, and something educational. This year we got our one year old bath toys, a new hard paged book, bubble bath, and since she doesn’t need any clothes, I got her a bean bag chair that’s her size. Her stocking has homemade cookies, bubble bath crayons, and letter magnets for the fridge. It’s not a ton of stuff, but she’ll get good use out of all of it and she’ll enjoy everything.

Need some ideas? Here’s a list:
•       Zoo membership
•       Science museum membership
•       Tickets to an aquarium
•       A new movie
•       An educational toy- for older kids, Walmart had great science experiments in the craft section.
•       A new fuzzy blanket with their favorite character on it, and matching pillow
•       A bath toy organizer with new toys or bath colors/crayons
•       Gift card to their favorite store or restaurant
•       A class. Swimming, dance, there’s tons of classes you can sign up for.
•       An organizer. Does your kid have legos? Or tons of stuffed animals? Get them an organizer so they have a place to go! I love stuffed animal hammocks or hampers for toys. I saw they make this lego mat that ties everything up into a bag when they’re done playing. Genius!

We also do this for the adults in the house. Like for my husband, a new pair of work boots, a book about his favorite hobby, an Xbox membership and a new game. We try to do things that involve the family like memberships or a road trip to our favorite place or somewhere new. It doesn’t take up room in the home, and everyone gets to experience something great. This year money’s tight, so the adults are going without presents. And that’s okay. Later down the road we’ll find a new place to visit and make a weekend out of it. Or maybe we’ll go to our favorite restaurant and grab a movie to take home and watch with the family.

Everyone gets to pig out on an awesome dinner with homemade baked goods for Christmas at our house. Everyone gets extra cookies and chocolate covered pretzels (or whatever I make that year) in their stockings to munch on during the day. And Christmas Eve is spent sipping peppermint hot cocoa with mini marshmallows, watching old holiday movies and snacking on popcorn. Even if you can’t afford, or don’t want to buy presents, you can always start a family tradition like ours for the family to look forward to.

The holidays aren’t about how much you get, it’s about how much you give. If you can give happiness to your whole family by going to the zoo, then do it! If you can bring joy to another family by donating toys, then do that too! If you want to start a new family tradition, then go ahead! Memories will stick around a lot longer then most toys or fancy nick-knacks. And they take up a lot less room.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Jessy Starlin

I'm a single stay at home mommy of a beautiful one year old girl. I'm an exclusively breastfeeding, co-sleeping mommy, although my little girl is growing up and now eats solids. Ever since high school I've loved writing. Now that I'm older I can put it to use through my articles.