5 Reasons I’m Buying Less For My Kids This Christmas Comments46 Comments

The following is a guest post from Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my
guest posting policy and then contact me.

I have a confession to make. At this point, I am not super religious. I still like holidays though- particularly Christmas. And even though I have never made the connection between baby Jesus’s birthday and me giving my kid a stuffed Dora doll, I still participate in the holiday. Why? It’s fun. I love Christmas and the excitement that builds up before the holiday. I love watching my kids sweet little faces open up their few gifts. I love the family get togethers where we share a big meal and spend some quality time together- all of us. I truly love the holidays.

At the same time, I start dreading Christmas this time of year. Winter is coming, and I start getting stressed out because I know that a whole hoard of wild new toys are about to invade my house. This is probably going to make me sound like a heartless Mommy Dearest, but I really hate my kid’s toys. Few of them are functional and most of them are pointless. All of the toys with multiple pieces are incomplete, and thus unusable. My kids only have a few toys that they actually play with and enjoy, and the rest of them are taking up valuable space in my home. Once a month or so, I even go through them and get rid of a few. Yet, I still have soooooooo many toys.

I have never given my kids much for Christmas. Last year, I probably spent about $150 combined on the two of them. This year I will give them less. Here’s why.

1. They have so many toys. They already have so much and most of it goes unused. I will probably spend their Christmas money on clothes, books, and other things that are practical.

2. It’s unfriendly to the environment. Most toys are cheaply made and don’t last. It is simply wasteful to purchase and create a demand for toys that have such a short lifespan only to end up in landfills.

3. Toys are a bad investment. No matter how much you pay for a nice toy, they almost always lose their value. Many of the nice things I have bought my children were later sold in a garage sale for 50 cents!

4. I want to set expectations low. I don’t want to set a precedent that I will be unable or unwilling to meet in years to come. I don’t want my kids to expect to be showered with mountains of gifts. I don’t want them to ever expect birthdays parties like those featured on Mtv’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen!”

5. I think there are better uses for our money. We will probably opt to put an extra chunk of money in our kid’s college funds instead of buying them excess gifts.

Don’t worry, I will buy my angels some Christmas gifts from Santa. They may be used, or bought on clearance, or inexpensive, but the kids won’t notice or care. They will be too busy playing with the boxes that they came in.

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This entry was posted in Financial Advice, and tagged , , Comments46 Comments
By : Adam | 6 Dec 2012
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46 thoughts on “5 Reasons I’m Buying Less For My Kids This Christmas

  1. Brian Porter

    Great post! I like to buy Legos because generally they last forever and most appreciate in value over time if they are popular sets. Plus you can always “re-use” them or sell them in bulk.

    I have 6 kids – I know the feeling. We have to “purge” toys 2-3 times a year, either to Goodwill, daycares or the trash.

    We also have such a big family & extended family – the sheer volume alone of “stuff” is awesome – in the literal sense…

    The best gift you can give your kids around the holidays, truly, is time…

    Reply
    1. Rohit @ The Money Mail

      How about exchanging used toys with fiends as a tradition for Christmas. Having too many toys and kids getting bored with their existing toys is a common problems, so why not have them exchange toys with friends, its like borrowing a DVD from your friend.

      Reply
  2. Dena

    I have found that my children appreciate it when they get money for the holidays. They get to go to the store pick out something and also understand the price of the things they buy. They also have the option to save it or give some to charity.
    I am glad other parents are reigning in the holidays and focusing on whats important, quality family time.

    Reply
    1. Holly@ClubThrifty

      I agree, Dean! It makes me sick when I hear of parents spoiling their children. The holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to give children more than they need. There are other much more important things to focus on.

      Reply
  3. Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    I like this type of thinking Holly. Toys have gotten out of control and when I would give toys to my nieces and nephews, they just didn’t really care for them. Most of them would be used once and then lost. Not my way of spending $20. I have a friend that gives his children money to purchase a toy or two and then allows them to make the decision to either keep the toy or donate it to someone in need. It is a great way to teach kids about the power of giving.

    Reply
    1. Holly@ClubThrifty

      I make my kids give stuff away too. Recently, they got several gifts at a Christmas party. My oldest got to pick a few things she really liked and the rest will be given to charity. We just dont need it.

      Reply
  4. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Good post Holly! I could not agree more. I feel like we could double as a warehouse for a toy store with all the crap toys we have. The more kids you have the worse it gets. The worst offenders are the grandparents as they send toys…noisemaking ones sent mainly by my Mom, so as to tick me off. We learned early on to save a lot of what we had budgeted for Christmas & Birthday gifts and use it towards fun experiences for the kids throughout the year.

    Reply
  5. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

    I agree with your decision Holly! The majority of children I know including my stepson have more toys than they really care for or need! I believe that giving them memorable experiences is what will stay with them for years to come. Take them on a horse pulled sleigh ride through the snow at a ranch during Christmas time (if you live where old man winter visits), or even the mall where they have gorgeous Christmas decor, walk in a neighbourhood that is fully lit with the Christmas spirit, having children decorate the tree or help with the baking. These are all things my mom did with me as a child and I’ll remember them much faster than what I received as gifts.

    Reply
  6. Jason @ WorkSaveLive

    My wife and I have talked about this topic to great extent, simply because EVERY kid we’ve ever met has a shit ton of toys that are useless, take up space, and they don’t even play with all of them!

    Saying that, (and I know we’ll sound like cruel people) we’ll absolutely have restrictions on what we’ll buy our children and what friends and family can buy them. I’m going to happily invoke a rule that there is a limit to the number of toys they can have, and when they get a new toy, an old toy must be given away in exchange. We’re going to encourage family to donate money instead of buying our (eventual) kids toys or they can choose to contribute to their college savings instead of getting toys (or buy clothes…but no toys).

    Reply
      1. Kim@EyesontheDollar

        I said that too, but my mom pretty much said she will buy her granddaughter whatever she want to, so I just have to let it slide. Although the ridiculous, expensive clothes go straight to Ebay, new with tags. Is that horrible? We really try to make it a point to only get toys at birthday and Christmas, but it still adds up and we have to purge twice a year. I also will not do the whole swingset thing or motorized cars. If you have all that crap at home, it just gets boring and it’s no fun to go to the park or ride amusement rides. Holly, you are all over the place! Love it.

        Reply
  7. liquid

    There are too many spoiled kids out there who’s parents are giving Mattel and Hasbro too much money. Sometimes the best gifts are free like a library card if they’re old enough lol. And for the really young, they probably aren’t going to remember what they got when they grow up but they’ll probably remember that feeling of Christmas and spending time with family. There are also lots of local sponsored events that I go to where companies give out free swag. They make for great children gifts.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    Totally agree with you regarding toys. Personally, I prefer to spend more money on learning adventures and experiences for my daughter than on toys.

    Reply
  9. Joe Cassandra

    I don’t have kids so I don’t have that problem yet!

    Toys are definitely a bad investment.

    Did you see the Shark Tank with Toygaroo (the netflix for toys)…..Went Bust bc toys kept breaking/worn out.

    Note: they still got money from sharks :D

    Great Holly!

    Reply
  10. Shannon-ReadyForZero

    My parents never spent much on Christmas presents, but they always bought me things I’d use for years to come like books and such (I was a big reader as a kid…still am actually). I never minded how much I did or didn’t get because my parents were great about showing what the holiday was really about. Just having them home from work to eat and play games together was good enough for me!

    Also, the idea to put money into your kids’ college fund is one that they will certainly appreciate greatly later!

    Reply
  11. Jacob @ iheartbudgets

    We got a TON for Christmas growing up, but when the money dried up, my parents felt super guilty for not being able to get us lavish gifts anymore. It’s was a weird dichotomy, because honetly, I just loved the family time and opening presents more than the “stuff”. We’re keepin’ it frugal out of necessity right now, but I never want to buy crazy epensive gifts even if we can afford it. I think it breeds entitlement, and I want our kids to enjoy and appreciate every gift in life.

    Reply
  12. D.S. @ debt help Calgary

    Perhaps, some parents should realize that there is nothing wrong to buy less for kids. The material things are not that important anyway. It is more of love and knowing that you care a lot for them.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It might actually be the kids that need to realize that, but yeah it’s up to the parents to teach their kids about it. Kids shouldn’t get everything they ask for and they should be more reasonable with their requests.

      Reply
  13. Justin@TheFrugalPath

    I also feel that a child receiving too many toys can make them more materialistic. I’ve seen people who can barely afford to have $30 spend $1,000 a year on their children. These children are now entering their teenage years and have become very materialistic. I know that it’s not solely the fault of presents, but I believe that placing a big emphasis on presents has a big impact.

    Reply
  14. Edward

    My parents used to spend about $100-$150 on the three of us for Christmas. Most of it was clothes, but there were also books and legos and usually something educational based on the interests we were expressing in school I remember one year I got a small microscope.

    Reply
  15. Veronica

    Holly, excellent reasons :) Especially setting low expecations. If you treat them with really nice gifts now, imagine when they become teenagers! “MOM, I want the All New Redesigned iPhone 5000!”

    Reply
  16. Lou Rodriguez

    Being forced into frugality several years ago, we have been operating the way you have laid out in this post for the last 4 to 5 years. The key for us has been to make it be “teachable” moments for our kids.

    They have also turned into lessons about financial literacy and teaching them the values of frugality, of which there are many! My kids are 6 and 8 years old and part of decluttering the house is taking toys that they are no longer playing with and taking them to the local Goodwill so that other kids can have a chance to enjoy them.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Holly! :)

    Reply
    1. Holly@Clubthrifty

      I agree that it is a good idea to find a lesson in all of it. When I make my daughter give away some of her toys, I explain to her that they are being donated to other children who aren’t as fortunate as us. She actually gets really excited about it and it makes her feel good about what she’s doing. Hopefully she will remember it.

      Reply
  17. Kyle @ Rather-Be-Shopping.com

    Excellent points. With 3 kids under 11, I have been stubbing my toes on toys for years. My wife and I have also been buying less toys in recent years. Instead, giving more gifts of experiences. Things like tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters for my son, or 3 months of horseback riding for my daughter. Helps to build better rounded kids in my opinion.

    It has worked great and we’ll continue to do it this Christmas.

    Reply
  18. CreditDonkey

    How about giving our kids the money meant for buying toys? We can talk them into opening a savings account and keeping that money there. It may work as an incentive for them to set aside a few dollars every now and then hoping this could develop into a good habit later.

    Reply
    1. Holly@ClubThrifty

      You must have missed the last one!

      5. I think there are better uses for our money. We will probably opt to put an extra chunk of money in our kid’s college funds instead of buying them excess gifts.

      Reply
  19. Jerry

    Kids need toys but they do not need to be expensive. Paints or other types of creative toys are usually cheap and they lead to them using their creativity. I think garage sales are insurance you save money, too. Kids need to learn that you have to prioritize as a family.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes those less expensive toys do wonders for a child’s creativity. If a kid is just zoned out playing video games all the time they’re just not going to develop those skills.

      Reply
  20. Alex

    As I clean up more and more of my old Christmas presents now, I realize that the money (and space) could have been used for so many other things. This is a smart strategy to start young!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Exactly…who needs all that clutter and waste when there are such better things to spend money on? Our society is just too caught up in materialism to realize what our priorities should be.

      Reply

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