No More Stuff! One Mom’s Holiday Gift-Giving Plea

It’s a wonderful part of the holiday season: the excitement of finding that perfect something for a loved one, the joy of giving a special package to a friend, or the anticipation and joy when children open presents. It’s all wonderful, it truly is. Until it all just becomes too much!

Too much buying. Too much stressing over buying something – anything! – for the people on your list. And as a mom of three children, just too much stuff!

The “Stuff” Conundrum
I can’t be the only mom who feels this way. We’ve all felt the holiday pinch or stress in one way or another. And, truly, it is a conundrum. Why? Because it’s a difficult topic. Many of us have family and friends that care so much for our children. My kids are loved and adored. Around the holidays, that love and adoration often translates into an abundance of gifts. The sentiment is beyond appreciated. I know that my children are fortunate beyond measure. But my kids and our home simply can’t take any more stuff!

Do you ever feel like this during the holidays?! I love the book ‘Llama Llama, Holiday Drama!’ by Anna Dewdney

Last year the “stuff” conundrum really came to a fever pitch. My daughter was given the exact same gift that she received the year before. From the same person. It really bothered me, but it took me a while to figure out exactly why. After all, shunning a perfectly lovely gift sounds pretty ungrateful, doesn’t it? It sure does! Feeling annoyed that someone gave the effort, spent the time and the money to give your child a gift is pretty awful, isn’t it? Yep! Was I just being a Scrooge?

But, hear me out: I knew exactly where my daughter’s repeat gift was going. It would be briefly acknowledged, played with for a hot minute, and then forgotten. Why? Because my kids simply receive too much stuff! It’s sensory overload, and it’s hard for them to focus on one individual gift and appreciate it. My daughter and her brothers always seem to be onto the next thing, the next present. They open one thing while already anticipating more. And they usually get their wish. 

Quality Over Quantity: Giving Meaningful Gifts
So, yes, I was bothered by the repeat gift. I was bothered by all of the gifts that my kids collected and quickly discarded. Not because I’m an ungrateful or unappreciative person, but because I want my children to understand that gift giving and receiving have meaning. The act of giving a gift should be joyful for both the giver and the receiver. Most importantly, gifts should be about quality, not quantity.

Throughout the past year, I shared my thoughts with my Mom and Mother-in-law. Both are true holiday and present-giving professionals, who put a lot of thought and effort into their gift-giving. Interestingly, they each had the same response: “but we love watching the kids open their gifts!” and “we want them to have something to open”. As a lover of gift-giving myself, I appreciate their stance. But there has to be a middle ground, right?! There is, and I’m sharing it with you below.

The Middle Ground: This Mom’s Plea!
Without further ‘ado, this mom unapologetically shares her holiday gift-giving plea. Please, consider these below options and ideas for gifts this holiday season:

  • The gift of experience. For a child, there is nothing better! A summer camp experience, an annual pass to a local museum or zoo, an educational magazine subscription, a mommy and me class. The list is endless, and there are so many ways to make this gift fun and creative!
  • College fund contributionsReally, it’s the gift that will keep on giving. It’s not flashy, and it’s not the latest toy, but it’s a great gift that will be appreciated now and in the future.
  • The gift of time. This can be whatever you make it and is easy to tailor to the child’s specific age. An afternoon spent together baking cookies, a trip to the movies, a night out to dinner, or an outing to a sporting event are all great ideas. Children just want your love and attention. Having that attention on a one-on-one basis? Bonus!
  • Extra-curricular activities. The gift of a sports class, a hobby or an educational interest outside of school is another gift that is sure to be appreciated, and keeps on giving!
  • The ‘Three Gift Rule’. Let’s call this the diet “stuff” gift: One gift on the child’s wish list, one gift that they need and, lastly, something for them to read. Simple, fun, meaningful and generous, too!
  • Board Games. There’s nothing like a family game night, especially during the holidays. Board games are often neglected in this age of the screen. They are great for children and adults alike!

I take full responsibility for my own contribution to the “stuff” conundrum throughout the years. This holiday season, my husband and I are taking our own advice, and plan to focus on the list above. I’d love to hear input and advice from my fellow moms who can relate! 

Have you put any of the above gift-giving options and ideas into practice? Share it with me in the comments below! 


  1. Yes, yes, yes! This year I’ve asked family to keep gifts simple & practical so more “stuff” doesn’t accumulate and I’m putting my own advice to work by contributing to college funds with a holiday book.


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