I recently read this Yahoo Parenting article titled “Does your Child have Too Many Toys?” as I glanced around my family room littered with nerf darts, a menagerie of stuffed animals, Candyland pieces, and baby sorting toys. The article brought up a point about the massive amount of toys being a detriment to the well-being of our kids- possibly stifling creativity and causing endless distractions for kids. In addition to our kids’ health, I think about the health of our planet: an ungodly amount of plastic (and therefore petroleum use in production and leftover waste that will never disintegrate) is used to make many toys and their inane packaging.
With the holidays here, I decided to pause judgment and ask friends living in different parts of the US and around the world about their perspectives. I asked
- How many toys do you give your child for the holidays?
- What do you do to control the amount of toys at home?
- How many is “too many toys”??
I got an amazing and diverse response from parents who- like me- are trying to balance gifts and giving our kids learning and creative opportunities with reducing waste and clutter and attempting to maintain sustainable practices. Here is a sampling of their answers:
“we give one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, one thing you read.” We also do a gift of a game or puzzle that we can all do together on Christmas Eve.” ~ Mary (US)
“For birthdays, usually two – one toy or book, and one experience (day out/etc). For Christmas the same but we also add a charity gift (like one of those Oxfam cards that buys school books in Cambodia). To keep down the clutter we try to go for experiences or things that will be used up. We also do “toy clear-outs” about once each six months.” ~ Bronwyn (Australian living in Singapore)
“We try to not buy toys other than winter holidays and birthday…We collect and donate our toys and clothes that are in good condition every 6 months. They get a lot of hand me down toys and clothes from friends too so that makes it harder sometimes to manage the general rule.” ~Anna (Russia)
“One toy, one book, and one outfit.” ~ Amanda (US)
“For birthday, usually two presents – one board game and one toy (for my boy usually a construction toy; for my girl usually a doll outfit or accessory. For Christmas is similar. For Chinese Lunar New Year – red envelopes and a new outfit!” ~ Miss Panda Chinese (Taiwanese living in Ecuador)
“one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, one thing you read”. Also one gift from Santa and some small stocking gifts. So usually two are toys. We also do a gift of a game or puzzle that we can all do together on Christmas Eve.” ~ Mary (US)
“Some birthdays we don’t give toys at all but give during holidays. I usually prepare 1 gift for each day for each child during Ayyam-i-Ha which lasts 4-5 days.” ~ Varya (Russian living in China)
“no more than 3. We don’t like giving too many toys” ~ Johana (Bolivian living in the US)
“practically none. I think one or two per child. Because I am sick of cleaning up the toys, we asked family not to give us any toys but only books and clothes. If we want something bigger, like a bike, we ask for it.” ~ Olga (Polish living in The Netherlands)
“We usually spend between 75 and 100€ for birthdays and Christmas but we are also trying to raise children who don’t grow up feeling privileged and would like to limit the amount of superfluous gifts. What we have decided is that we would make an effort to buy outdoor type toys (bikes, scooters, etc.) as gifts to encourage outdoor family activities. Or gifts that allow them to develop their creative talents: musical instruments, art supplies, books. The children never get clothes as gifts, unless they specifically ask for it, which is happening more often with our girls’ growing interest in fashion!” ~ Maria (France)
“Not too many toys. For birthdays, we usually do one present – a book or toy. We’ll also give our sons the gift of an experience whether it’s tickets to a game, show or cultural event. But, for Hanukkah, we do give our sons a little something each night. Of course, now I’m trying to get them to give up the presents and put the money towards travel instead!” ~ Aimee (US)
“Well for starters we have an only child. Secondly, we live far away from family, so it’s just us. We really never thought about the “number” of toys we’d give our son. When he was smaller we’d get him toys we fancied. We give him gifts on both Christmas day and Three Kings Day. I can tell you one thing it’s not just one toy! We also gift him books, board games, maps, arts & craft kits, etc. We, too also go through his gently and in good condition toys to donate.” ~ Frances (Puerto Rican in the US)
Honestly, we don’t have a set rule that we follow for gift-giving during the holidays. I try to give gifts that I know will be played with over and over again: wooden blocks (or any construction toys), animals for my animal loving daughter, games, books, and sports equipment are all favorites. We also buy used a LOT, and donate when we are finished, as an attempt to keep some waste out of our landfills.
I would love to hear your opinions! Is there such thing as too many toys? How many toys do you give your child for the holidays? What do you do to control the amount of toys at home?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.