Happy Holidays or eliminating the kid clutter holidays produce

My kids were all born right around the holidays.  We start in October and don’t stop until the end of January (our anniversary is one week after Rachel’s birthday.)  So we have officially begun the holiday season here in the Young household. With the only grandkids/great-grandkids/nieces/nephew in the family and an excess of loving grandparents (several extras through divorce and remarriage) and lots of doting aunts and uncles our kids would be well spoiled if we didn’t come up with a plan.  (10 gift sources x 3 kids who can’t eat candy x 5 gift giving holidays means 150 gifts coming into the house if each family member only buys 1 gift!  Thats a lot of loot.  Then add in all the stocking stuffers, baskets and the fact that each person likes to buy more than one item per kid and it gets overwhelming for everyone!)

We have tried several things to keep the holidays from being overwhelming for kids (and parents).  In the past we have asked that family members only buy a total of four gifts (something they want, something they need, they something for fun and something to read) which is what I usually get them but that never panned out because everyone STILL bought tons of little stuff for stockings etc.  I did learn to cut back on our own spending on the kids since everyone buys for our kids anyway, so now the kids usually get one or two things from us. We also tried reminding family members that the kids have to get rid of a portion of their toys and stuff before and after Christmas, and they decide which to keep.  That helped a lot since some members of the family liked to buy lots of dollar store toys instead of one nicer one (the kids call them disposable toys because they break right away.:))  It still meant that the kids got a lot stuff that they didn’t necessarily want or need.  We needed a way to communicate what the kids liked, needed, and wanted in a way that everyone would know and be able to use without the kids ending up with exactly the same thing from all grands (like I did when I asked for a Strawberry Shortcake doll as a kid–I had 3 Strawberry Shortcakes and no other dolls).

The older two have, in the past few years, learned to ask for a few specific things that they really want–one from each family member, for instance last year Rachel asked for a Cabbage Patch doll from one grandma, Only Hearts kids from another, and a doll house (to be shared with her sister from the other.) The other thing I did last year is made an Amazon store with the items the kids wanted for those who were online and wanted to get something from the kids’ wishlist.  This also helped me out since I got money back on what others purchased through it.  It helped pay for OUR Christmas presents plus groceries for a few months. 🙂

We have also, in the past, made a printed list of each child’s favorite colors and styles, what they need (clothing and school wise) and what sizes they wore in each thing.  This eliminated a lot of guess work for grandparents and meant the kids got what they liked and would wear instead of a three sizes too big long denim dark blue skirt when they wanted a shorter, acid washed one that fit (no, I am not bitter though I may still be a little bit bitter about the four sizes too big neon pink jelly shoes that matched NOTHING I owned that my grandma bought on clearance instead of the light blue ones that would have fit that I wanted. :))

This year I went one step further.  The kids are getting a bit older (buying gifts for a 9 and soon to be 11 year old is much harder than buying for a 2 year old though the younger still has a more traditional list).  Rachel and Esther have specifically asked all grandparents to not spend money on a whole lot of little stocking stuffers or other things and instead to donate towards something they want specifically (an ASUS Eee PC 900 16G because they want to use them for schooly type things).  We used Wishpot to list that and other things each child as well as some gifts we would like as a family.  Wishpot also allows us to use our paypal account to allow contributions to their Eee Pc’s online instead of just in person (so if, say, my brother who lives out of state decides he wants to help them get them hen he can contribute cash to my paypal to help with getting gifts instead of buying something smaller and shipping it.)  Plus, we have lots of other smaller gifts listed under Issac’s and under Family gifts if they don’t want to contribute to a bigger gift for each girl. (I should also note that this doesn’t just help us as a family buy one larger gift per kid, somethign they want and need, but it also helps our family not spend as much –those stocking stuffers and other things add up, and it eliminates one more stress during the holidays.)

Another big help last year was that I asked those of you who were going to be buying through Amazon.com anyway (and don’t have an affiliates account yourself, if you do click through from your own site, you still get credit) to click through from my page–if you do that it gives me credit–even if you purchase with a gift certificate or some such.  Lots of you did and it really helped us out.  Since we are planning on getting the Eee PC through Amazon.com this year it will help us get the girls each one of their own  (Issac is pretty much bought for–God is good!)

And if you haven’t visited Wishpot.com go and get your own account–it is a great way to share what you and your kids really want and need as well as see what others want and need.

*Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate, you click the Amazon link and within the next 2 weeks buy something I get a little bit back. I am NOT however a Wishpot affiliate, I just am really happy with the service and it has really simplified things for our extended family. And if you are curious, here are our wishlists: Mine, Rachel, Esther, Issac, and the family (hubby has not jumped on board with this. :))  I really wish the rest of the family would get Wishpot lists as well–it is nice to be able to see what everyone wants and buy online from various sites instead of trying to figure each person out.