Kids Birthday Gifts that Won't Add Clutter

Kids Birthday Gifts that Won't Add Clutter

Erin Burt

Birthday season is upon us in my home. My three children’s birthdays are all within a two-week period so, it’s KIND of like second Christmas over here. We have a pre birthday-toy purge followed by a post-birthday-toy purge. Then, there are the unfortunate toys that end up in “Toy Purgatory” to either be given away or played with at a later date. 

Timeframe: Purely arbitrary.

My husband and I tend to be minimalistic by nature. We intentionally purchased a smaller home (about 1100 square feet) and our boys share a room with four boxes of toys. If the toys don’t fit in the boxes, it’s time to purge.

But, our children have LOVING grandparents that LOVE to give gifts. They love watching my children’s reactions to opening presents and love showing them love in that specific way. Which, sort of puts my husband and I in stress-overload once everyone has left and we are surrounded by 47 NEW toy trucks, all of which require different-sized batteries (shaking my fist at you, toy companies).

We are only (almost) five years into this parenting gig, but with plans to grow our family even more in the future, my husband and I have had to figure out ways to navigate the murky waters of discouraging excessive gift giving, especially when we both have family members that really enjoy giving gifts. Here’s some of what we have figured out:

  1. Experiencegifts. This is ALL OVER the Internet right now. Last year, we asked my parents to gift the kids a zoo pass. We have used this more than ANY toy they own. We’re already planning on asking for piano lessons when our oldest turns six.
  2. Perishable presents. My father-in-law is GREAT at this. He always buys my kids sidewalk chalk, construction paper, bubbles, obnoxious band-aids, and things of that nature. Things that will be used up. Even a box of crayons has a fairly short shelf life in my house. Plus? The gift-giver still gets to watch my kids open an actual present, which they love. Actually, let’s add batteries to this list, too.
  3. Practical gifts. I get it. These can be a little lame for the gift-giver. My boys received bunk beds a few months ago and so for their birthdays my mom and dad were kind enough to buy them mattresses.
  4. Accept that, sometimes, people won’t get you. They won’t get your family. They will just want to buy your children 85 things from the dollar store. But, remember: Once it’s yours, you get to decide what happens to it. No guilt attached!

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at

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