Decluttering Christmas presents – Kids edition

I have a few stocking stuff posts (like 50 Stocking stuffers for women,  and 100+ Stocking stuffer and small gift ideas for men, and Non-candy Easter basket and stocking stuffer ideas for children) that get a bit of traffic. If you’ve read them, you know that I am a huge fan of Christmas stockings full of goodies (and present-giving in general). This year, I really want to focus on fun, family, and the meaning of Christmas, rather than all the focus be on PRESENTS! This is becoming more important as my first born gets older (he will be 2.5 years old during Christmas) and with another one on the way. Also, if you have kids, you know how quick they accumulate stuff. I don’t even know how this happens, but it seems like magically, overnight, toys have multiplied. We rarely even buy toys, encourage family to gift other things, and yet still, there is a house full of toys!

I am taking a step back from filling stockings with toys and trinkets and little things that will get lost inside the couch or thrown away in a month. Well, there may still be things that get lost inside the couch, but the point is, I am trying to avoid the junk and clutter.

Have you noticed that some of the greatest toys your little ones have played with are actually not “toys?” Stacks of cups, a cardboard box, a pen and a back of an envelope, a table cloth fort, small pumpkins from the local pumpkin patch (I kid you not, my toddler is in love with his little pumpkins) – all of these things, and more, have entertained your child and didn’t come wrapped in plastic, secured with zip ties, and then sealed in a box. They allowed the children to use their imagination. That’s why this year I am focusing my gift-giving for my child on things that will allow him to play in different ways and offer creative freedom. I am also focusing my stocking stuffers on “needs.”

It may be early to start planning Christmas gifts (and I may have gotten my cousin’s kids’ gifts already, at Target, for 70% off during their toy clearance), but my little girl is set to make her arrival in January and I just love making lists, planning a budget, and all that fun stuff. So here are a few tips I am following to decrease the amount of “stuff” we don’t need (but still have fun giving gifts), and a what I am giving my son for Christmas.

decluttering christmas

Tips for decluttering your kids’ Christmas presents and buying presents that won’t go to waste:

  • Know your priorities – what do you want the holidays to be about for your kids? Do you want to emphasize the birth of Jesus? Do you want them to know a specific reason why we give gifts? Do you want to emphasize charity and giving to others?What is important for your kids to learn during the holidays? Set your priorities to shape how you buy your Christmas presents and create traditions.
  • Keep track of what your children needs – just because it’s a need, doesn’t mean it’s not fun or wanted. Clothing, shoes, hygiene items, cups and dinnerware, and school supplies come to mind. Personalize, pick a neat color or pattern, make it fun.
  • How many gifts is your child going to receive? If you want to get your child 20 gifts on top of family and friends’ gifts, that’s totally your choice, but if you are trying to minimize Christmas “stuff” for material, storage, budget, religious, moral, or other reasons, cutting down on the number of gifts your child gets is an easy way to accomplish your goal. You can use the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” idea, or create your own fun little rule. Kids who get the most gifts aren’t necessarily the happiest or the most grateful – it’s really not about the number of gifts you receive.
  • Clean out your children’s toys before Christmas – with your child’s help, decide what they would like to donate or throw-away, or even sell to earn money to buy a loved one a gift.
  • Give an experience – if you are trying to cut down on material items, an experience is a great way to still give a gift. Movie tickets, a special day out, a trip to a favorite place, etc. can be a great way to cut down on the stuff and spend time with your family.
  • Give family and friends gift ideas – you can let your family and friends know (in a polite and loving way) that your child would really love an experience (tickets to a movie or other amusement), or give them ideas on what would fit best with your family. You don’t have to ignore your child’s wants and wishes, but you can also steer others away from inappropriate or wasteful gifts. Some people may be very excited about giving a particular gift – it is what it is. If it’s not inappropriate or harmful, I would suggest just letting it happen.
  • Let kids have fun and use their imagination – crafts, open-ended toys, imaginary play items, dress-up – all these things allow your child to be creative and have fun!
  • Learning is fun too – You probably can have too many books, but a good book is hard to replace!
  • Make new traditions – maybe instead of gifts you do fun things with the family. Instead of opening a gift early, maybe you have a family movie night, or you go on a little vacation instead of giving gifts.

What are your tips for decluttering and limiting tossed-aside toys on Christmas?


I’m not going totally minimalist on Christmas for my little boy, but I am being conscious of what he is receiving and limiting junk and random crap. And well, I really love giving presents, but I need to not go overboard!

What is going in my toddler’s stocking:

safe sippy
The Safe Sippy Cu
p – made out of stainless steel so I don’t have to worry about those cheap plastic sippy cups that have baked in a hot car a million times. All of his cups are in sorry condition and I need to buy more anyways. $10.99


Schleich Crocodile Figurine – Gabriel LOVES his animal figurines and plays with them everyday. He doesn’t have an alligator or crocodile yet, despite his current obsession with them. It’s not a need, but it’s a little toy that I know will bring a lot of joy and creative play. Currently $5.00

Going to the dentist going to the doctor

Going to the Dentist and Going to the Doctor mini books – My child HATES for any stranger to come close to him (mostly when they approach him to touch him with strange utensils), so I am hoping these books might help. $1.99 each


Wind-up flashlight – Does anyone else’s child love flashlights? I think this one will be a big hit since you have to wind it up first (no batteries needed), but honestly, any flashlight would do. Gabriel does like to try and take them apart though, and it seems like the battery-powered ones are really easy to disassemble. $4.99

A few treats from Abe’s Market, since I love their trial boxes (3 samples/snacks for $6, free shipping, comes with a $5 coupon for future use). And I don’t think I need to add any candy to Gabriel’s stocking since I am sure family will be feeding him plenty of holiday treats.

I also picked up a couple pairs of socks from Target’s $1 section (I actually got a few pairs on clearance 2/$1). My son has never watched any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show or movie, but he absolutely loves them – so I know TMNT socks will be a big hit (he loves socks, anyways).

So my toddler’s stocking will include a couple of books, some special treats, a toy, a flashlight, an upgraded cup, and socks. This is more than enough for him to be thrilled with, plus it includes some items I need to buy anyways (the socks and new cup). The flashlight will also pair with a Christmas gift  – a book where if you shine the flashlight on the pages, it reveals more pictures and text.

What is my son, Gabriel, getting for Christmas? I really like the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” idea, or even three gifts like Jesus received from the three wiseman, but I am diverging a little bit.

An easel from Ikea ($15 ) – dry erase on one side, chalkboard on the other.

A play kitchen (was going to make one out of an old entertainment center, but I don’t think that is going to happen. Costco has a neat one that is comparatively cheap if I don’t find one used).

A pair of pajamas for Christmas Eve

Secrets of the Seashore – a book that will pair with the flashlight (you shine the light on the pages and it reveals extra goodies. The one I bought is about the beach, which Gabe is absolutely in love with). $12.99


Stay tuned – I will also be writing similar posts about gifting for men and women.


*Please note – some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Even so, I’m practically already done Christmas shopping and these are the actual items I have bought (I only get a small percentage from other peoples’ purchases, not any perks for buying them myself).


2 thoughts on “Decluttering Christmas presents – Kids edition

  1. I am taking a similar approach with my son’s stocking this year too (and oddly enough he will be 2.5 years old at Xmas and I have another due on New Years!). We focused more on consumables (ie art supplies) in his stocking. We are putting: a Schleich alpaca figure (we saw many of these at several festivals this year and he found them quite unique), Sandra Boynton books (a fave author here), a Hape bamboo car (he’s a car lover), a mini watercolor set, a Melissa and Doug animal stamp set, and a Faber-Castell beeswax crayon set in a case, plus a few treats.

    For his “big” gifts, we are giving him: a wooden slicing fruit and veg set to fill out his play kitchen from last year, a Folkmanis Enchanted Tree puppet (he’s really getting into puppets), a new winter hat (he adores hats), and a mini Roy Toy wooden log cabin building set.

    I think I FINALLY have the grandparents understanding that we don’t want junk. We’d rather have their gift of time or 1 or 2 well thought out gifts, not heaps of things he will never play with. I’m mostly suggesting toddler board games, art supplies, books, and outdoor tools and gear for next year (like a child’s wheelbarrow, new rain boots, and a new slicker). My mother is finally up to speed but she still has this weird notion that she has to spend the same amount of money on each grand child AND get them each the same number of gifts. She finds it harder to buy for my son because what we ask for (or what he wants) is fairly high quality so it costs more. She’s having a hard time letting go of the idea that he *may* only be opening 1 gift from them (heaven forbid).

    I just feel like the holidays are overwhelming for a toddler already, so why add to the confusion by giving them WAY more than they can (or want to) handle. Maybe this year will be different. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s