Could your gift add to the mess?

Curbing Christmas Clutter

by Nancy Twigg


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Christmas Clutter?

Christmas is a time of joy, reflection, family time, and clutter.

Clutter? That's right. With all the new gifts making their way into our homes around the holidays, families can easily suffer from overload. So much stuff already, so much new stuff coming in. So little space to store it all. What's a parent to do?

One of the constant challenges modern parents face is how to keep their children's toys, books and other belongings from taking over every area of the home. Unfortunately, Christmas gift giving only exacerbates the problem. Even if Mom and Dad are judicious in the number of presents they give, chances are their children will receive loads more from grandparents, relatives and playmates.

Is there anything parents can do to curb the tide of clutter that often rises around Christmastime? Thankfully, the answer is "Yes." Here are some strategies for holiday gift giving for kids that doesn't add to the problem of household clutter.

  • Give consumable gifts - Gifts that will be eaten up or used up are good choices because they do not add to the clutter problem. Once they're gone, they're gone. There's nothing left to clutter up the house. Some ideas for consumable children's gifts include craft supplies and kits, special food treats, bath and body products, stickers, and bubbles. Besides giving consumable gifts yourself, consider asking relatives to also give your children presents that won't be around for years to come.

  • Focus on quality not quantity - Rather than giving a multitude of gifts, limit your giving to a few special presents your children will truly enjoy. One clever solution many parents have adopted is the "three gifts" rule. Because Baby Jesus only received three gifts-gold, frankincense, and myrrh-the children in these families receive only three gifts as well. Another idea for families with older children would be to give them an approximate spending limit and ask them make their wish lists based on that amount. This forces them to ask for only the items they want most.

  • Give gifts of experience - Another way to give non-cluttering gifts is to give things that aren't really things at all, but rather experiences for your children to enjoy. In doing so, you give the gift of pleasant memories. What child wouldn't love a season pass to the zoo or a gift card from a movie rental store? How about gift certificates to a favorite ice cream shop or video arcade? Another benefit of these gifts is that they require little or no wrapping!

  • Declutter before the onslaught - Since you know the deluge of gifts is coming, why not be proactive? In the spirit of Christmas charity, December is a great time for children to go through their belongings and donate what they no longer use to groups that can use them. This creates a win-win situation for everyone. The charities receive items they can use, parents enjoy a less cluttered home, and children experience the blessings of giving.


Nancy Twigg is a Christian speaker and the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions

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