How to tell family not to buy any more gifts for your kids
Holidays always bring out the best and worst in people it seems. We all have an idea of what a perfect holiday event or tradition looks like and we want to make that happen as smoothly as possible. However, not everyone’s ideas look the same and this can lead to tension.
My husband for example loves Christmas morning to look like a toy store explosion. He doesn’t care about what the toys are as long as it looks like mayhem! He would rather spend $100 at the dollar store buying junk that falls apart than spend $100 on a single nice thing that will last.
This is how he remembers Christmas as a child and this is how his family still likes to celebrate to this day. I will never be able to change that. It genuinely stresses me out to think of the abundance of stuff my kids are going to get on Christmas and for their birthdays, or when grandparents visit.
From experience, I know that specifically saying no to any gifts is offensive to my husband’s family. They buy things to show their love and I can’t change that so I let them do it. In fact, according to this survey, 68% of people say gift-giving is their love language! It’s not worth the heartache of hurting your loved ones to try and force your views on them.
However, it is okay for you to be vocal about the WHY behind the desire for no toy gifts.
Be Open About The Reason You Want No Toys
Some people just cannot fathom why you would say no to gifts? They may be unaware of some knowledge or information you have so it’s always a good idea to inform. Just make sure you are nice.
No More Toys Because Clutter is a Problem
Clutter leads to overwhelm and who wants their children to be overwhelmed just living in their own home? Let your family members know that you are creating a calming atmosphere for your children to live in and having too many toys does not allow for that to happen.
Discouraging the culture of consumerism
Overabundance and consumerism are rampant in today’s culture. Being purposeful in teaching your children the difference between a need and want is a wonderful life skill. We should not be buying things just for the sake of buying or because it’s considered the social norm to do so.
Digital-Free Learning Is Important in Our Family
Raising screen-free children is so important to me. I have put in hours and hours of research into the mental and developmental side effects that come from keeping our children wired up all the time. Not everyone is going to be as passionate as me about non-electronic gifts but giving them a few facts could perhaps drive your point home.
We Are Working to Improve our Environmental Impact
As a society, we refuse to look at our consumption on an environmental level. We think our purchases don’t matter because it is so small in the grand scheme of the world. When you think of the change that could happen if 9 billion people decided to make a small change however it seems like a much bigger deal.
Our Children Have Specific Learning Styles
Perhaps you have specific learning styles you are implementing in your home and certain items just do not fit in with that style. Let others know what kinds of things are appropriate in this setting and answer any questions they have.
My children do much better with fewer toys. We prefer open-ended toys. There is no need to apologize for how you chose to raise your children.
Best ways to ask for no gifts
I want to say again how important it is to be calm, rational, and kind when having these conversations with your loved ones. Although you may not understand their reasoning for wanting to buy things they are most likely doing it out of love.
They are probably just as passionate about their reason for buying things are you are about not buying things. Agree to disagree if that’s what it takes but do not alienate your family.
Rip the bandaid off
For some it might just be better to come out and say no. Don’t stumble around with half-truths, just give them your reasons and move on.
Provide a wish list of needs before the special day
If you have family members who are kind of on board with no gifts but still feel the need to buy something, provide them with a wish list. This way you have given them a list of things your children may actually need or want and that fit in with what you are attempting to create in your home.
Include non-physical items like
- Experience Gifts
- Consumables and Personal Care
- Crafting Gifts
- Subscription Gifts
- Consider gift cards and monetary contributions to things like college or savings accounts.
Check out our Gift Alternative Guide for ideas on activities, events, and subscriptions that can be purchased instead.
Explain Environmental Concerns
My children have gotten really good at understanding why we no longer buy plastic toys. They know plastic is not great for the animals and the ocean and once they are reminded of this they move on.
Tell your loved ones that you are trying to do your part in dealing with the environmental crisis and you would prefer they not contribute to it for the sake of your children either.
Discuss Behavioral Concerns
If you have had behavioral concerns let the gift buyers know that the abundance of toys is having real emotional consequences for your children.
Let them know about problems with attention span, lack of empathy, or responsibility that you are seeing.
Perhaps you are having to deal with tantrums when it comes time to clean up. Whatever the case just be as transparent as you can be.
Rationalize Time Constraints
If your children are school-aged you might want to remind the gift-givers that because of the time spent in school your children do not have much time for a bunch of new toys anymore. Express that new items will not be played with because there is simply not enough time between school and any extracurriculars.
What to Do if You Still Receive Birthday Gifts
Just because you say no to gifts does not mean that your wishes will be respected. While it does seem mildly rude for your wishes to be ignored, just remember that it might seem just as rude to the gift giver that you do not respect their wish to give gifts.
Remember, you are in control of what goes on in your own home. You can choose to allow or not allow items to stay. You never have to keep anything out of guilt or obligation.
It’s up to you to set the example you want your children to follow. Show them how celebrating can be done in non-material ways and that celebrating can be done in different ways that don’t include gift-giving. Talk to them about all the reasons why you chose to not buy many gifts. Be open with kids about how people do things differently – explain why your family chooses to do things the way they do.
It’s okay to explain the situation to your children and tell them why your family chooses to do things differently than other family members.
How to Ask for no gifts in Invitations
Child’s Birthday Party
I can promise that most casual school friends will be so excited to see “no gifts please” on a birthday party invitation. Whoever knows what to get for a child your child goes to school with that you don’t even know?
A simple “no gifts please, you presence is the perfect gift”
Close friends and family may still reach out and ask what gift they can get for the birthday boy or birthday girl. Just reassure them that you are serious about no gifts and would like to focus on the experience of the party instead. If they are insistent refer them to the list of gift alternatives.
My best friend gets my children a zoo membership each year which is wonderful. She lives out of town and we can enjoy the membership with her when she visits throughout the year.
Keep in mind if you ask for no gifts it’s probably a good idea to forgo the goodie bags or party favors too.
Special Occasions like Graduations and Recitals
Use the same guidelines as above. Remember to focus on the event itself which is what your child and even the guests will remember. In five years no one will remember the gifts they received.
Finally, just one last time I want to remind you to be kind, grateful, and understanding. Your family members are most likely not trying to hurt you by buying a birthday present or special occasion gift for your children. They are trying to show them love, and while we know there are many other ways to show love some people just prefer buying stuff.
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