Does the thought of adding one more toy to the playroom make you cringe? When my kids were younger, the day after Christmas made me feel defeated and overwhelmed. I made a decision a long time ago that I would not be part of the problem for my nieces and nephews and now, my grandkids. I’m not saying that I don’t ever give my grandkids toys. Certainly, as a parent or grandparent, we love to demonstrate our affection through gifts. My personal rule is that anything I purchase for my grandkids can be taken home or left at my house (mommy’s choice). If I’m not willing to house it, I don’t buy it.
When my nieces and nephews were little, they were buried in toys. The last thing they needed for a birthday was another toy. My sister had been depositing money into a savings account for my kids’ birthdays for years. That may not have been such a welcome gift when they were 7, but when they went to college and had enough stashed away to pay for books for their first semester, they appreciated the forethought.
I wanted to do something that they could appreciate as a child and still not add to the ridiculous number of toys they already had. I decided that I would start giving them “experiences” instead of toys. I loved the one on one time I got to spend with each of them and my sister loved that they didn’t accumulate any more junk for her to deal with. Here are some ideas that you might find to be great alternatives too:
1. Tickets to a show. (Paw Patrol LIVE, LaComedia, Disney on Ice, etc.)
2. Family passes to Boonshoft or a local zoo.
3. A visit to Sweet and Sassy for a little girl to have a mani/pedi/updo.
4. Take a pottery class or go to a pottery painting place to make tea sets or piggy banks, etc.
5. Attend one of the kids’ paint parties at the Mayflower Arts Center.
6. Pay for dance lessons or a sports team registration and buy the gear they need.
7. Buy a musical instrument and pay for lessons.
8. Buy a bow and take them to Saturday morning archery lessons at the Tackle Shack.
9. Buy a subscription to National Geographic Kids or another magazine of interest.
10. Buy a trampoline or swingset for the backyard. Even better—build one with them!
11. Buy a pool pass or membership for the YMCA.
12. Take a special trip. It could be a few days or just an overnight excursion.
13. Buy a movie pass and make a monthly date.
14. Take a trip on the Lebanon Railroad. (Younger kids love the trips with Curious George, etc.)
15. For older kids, take a riverboat cruise.
Even now that our kids are older, I still do this. Last year’s Christmas gift to my grown sons and daughters-in-law was plane tickets to a family vacation in Europe. I also still take my nieces to LaComedia for their birthday every summer and it is a tradition that they look forward to all year. The dinner and show are great, but the time we spend on that evening is the real treat. (And these are gifts that I give myself too!)
Hi! I'm Janet and I've been the Director of the Before and After School and Smart Start Preschool Programs at the Troy Rec since 1994. My hubby and I have been married 30 years and we have two grown sons. Each of them is married and blessing us with grandchildren left and right. Life is good even when the nest is empty!