I don’t know how my big kid accumulated so much stuff when we buy him very little stuff. His room is FULL of stuff. There are toys EVERYWHERE. People want to show they care about him and that’s awesome but wow there is so much stuff. And we’re terrible too, get invited to parties of other kids, buy them stuff…
And kids are natural hoarders so you can NEVER throw it away. (It’s a precious stick, it’s their favourite peanut butter jar lid)
1) Most obvious – assure people they don’t need to buy things for your kid. Make your next party a “presents not expected but we’d love a card to keep” party.
…But because people will still want to be generous and purchase gifts for their, here are some categories of things I’ve thought of to suggest when people say “but I WANT to get him something!”
1) Things that need fairly frequent replacing – e.g. crayons, playdough, etc.
2) Books – I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that maybe it is possible to have too many books, because our lounge is kinda like a children’s library. But it’s not really too many! They can be stored easily, which helps! And you can write a message inside so that they know who it came from and it can be extra special. Books are great. D is especially interested in books in te reo at the moment.
3) CDs for the car (in theory, in practice our car CD player is broken because D jammed a CD in when there was already another CD in, and now they are both stuck in there forever and it can never be used again).
4) Dress ups. Dress ups are such a good wet day activity!
5) Things that add to a set – e.g. duplo, blocks, compatible train pieces (but please no incompatible train pieces!).
6) Things that can be used for a one-off project – e.g. a candle-making kit with a sheet of beeswax and a wick, a gardening kit with some seeds and a pot, a baking kit with a packet of cake mix and a wooden spoon.
7) Things that don’t take up much space and can be played with quietly without adult assistance. Puzzles, etc. The best thing anyone has gotten D in this category is a Melissa and Doug Water Wow book. It was a present from a friend of mine when D had his tonsils out and we’ve had so much millage out of it.
8) Clothes in the next size up from the kid’s age. Especially jumpers, because the outermost layer gets the dirtiest, so in winter more jumpers are always good.
9) Useful things (but check with the parents to avoid double ups) – like a lunchbox or a drink bottle, etc.
10) Money – kids don’t have any money otherwise and the independence is itself exciting. A two dollar coin with a note that says it is to be used for a ride-on thing outside the supermarket will be received with GREAT pleasure. (Depending on the person and the occasion, larger amounts of money to be put in a bank account for when they’re older is also really great).
11) A one-on-one outing – it doesn’t have to be anywhere exciting, but that’s a cool bonus if it is!
12) Postcards from people on holiday or people who live out of town. So cool.
13) Balls – somehow they get lost and more never go amiss.
14) Ask the parents – sometimes kids want random things. At the moment, D wants some picture frames for his creche drawings.
15) Something to add to a collection if the kid is into collecting thing. D has a stone collection.
What not to buy:
1) Plastic junk and things with lots of fiddly bits that can get lost. So breakable and annoying. We’re all guilty of having bought these things for other people’s kids! Oh the annoying things I got my nephews when they were little! It’s in all the shops and at first it seems like a really good deal because it’s easy but then… sooooooooo much stuff…. Stop before you buy and ask yourself “Could this plausibly be classed as plastic junk?” and if the answer is even a hint of a yes, don’t get it.
2) Soft toys after age 3 or so. My two do not need any more soft toys, ever. I tried to suggest a cull and D was adamantly against it. Also maracas. We have just so many maracas and they’re such tempting weapons.
3) Things that take up an inordinate amount of space.
4) Sweet stuff – it’s really hard to control the amount of sugar their poor little teeth are exposed to. I know it seems like we’re being mean but best not to add to it eh, especially in large quantities.
5) Things for the older one, that the younger one wants to play with but might easily break or hurt himself on.