Ask Design Mom: Too Many Christmas Gifts

Hi Design Mom. I am hoping you can help me. I am stuck for Christmas ideas for my 6 year old boy. Every year I buy too much, and only one or two things get played with. I would like to get him a few good presents, but I have no clue. I have been looking around for ideas, but nothing stand out. He is creative, he just started kindergarten and is eager to learn, and he loves cars! Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. — Tricia Hamilton

Excellent question, Tricia. Anyone who celebrates Christmas is bound to fantasize about the ideal Christmas morning — fire in the fireplace, snow softly falling outside, and the perfect toys under the tree. But it’s easy for Christmas to get out of hand, with a pile of gifts that Junior just isn’t that interested in.

In an attempt to reign in my shopping, early in our marriage I adopted my sister-in-law’s policy. At our house, Santa brings each child something to wear, something to read, and something to play with. And that’s it. There are other gifts from siblings and grandparents, but Santa just brings three. This has been a really helpful guide for me. I’m able to stay within budget and concentrate on finding something my child would really love.

I realize you’re looking for specific gift ideas, not guidelines or policies, so I’d say, for any boy who loves cars, a matchbox car playmat is ideal. The one pictured here was handmade and shows the child’s actual neighborhood. Neat!

What about you, Clever Readers? Do you have any gift ideas for Tricia? How do you keep Christmas gifts from getting out of hand?

73 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: Too Many Christmas Gifts”

  1. We do approx 15-ish gifts per kid and only the 2 that they really want are from Santa. (I screwed that up last year and my 9 yr old noticed. Ack. Yes, she still believes though she has been informed by a friend but she thinks that’s hogwash!)
    I keep my Christmas lists in Word documents and haven’t erased past years so here is my list for my 6 yr son from last year (the prices are for my budgeting purposes. I just copied & pasted):
    Flute $1
    2 Bibleman DVDs $20
    Uno $5
    Legos $15
    Legos $15
    Zoob Mover $30
    Play-doh $2
    Eeboo Growth chart $15
    ‘Trashy Town’ book $8
    Superhero Cape (Etsy) $20-ish incl. shipping
    Haba Terra wrist compass $5
    Stopwatch $15 from Garnet Hill
    Lego Alarm clock $30
    Nintendo DS game (Mario Cart) $25
    We also stuff a stocking w/ candy & smaller things (some of which were included in the above list)

  2. I heard of a great idea once that is very similar but ups the gifts to about 5. Something they want, something they need, something to snuggle, something to wear, something to read. This is especially true with littles, they love going to bed on Christmas with a new dolly or a cute little stuffed animal. One year, my son got a lizard, not to “snuggle” but still something to nurture!

  3. Similar to the something to snuggle, I have adopted my stepmother’s tradition: every Christmas Eve Mrs. Claus makes a visit to the house and leaves something sleep-related — new pajamas or a robe for example.

  4. one from santa. one from mom and dad. one from sibling. and then the morning can be about being together and not about unwrapping 304 presents. it keeps compulsive shopping at bay.

  5. I love your idea, Gabrielle. Do you have presents under the tree before Christmas or do they all get delivered Christmas Eve? Part of the fun for my child is seeing the presents for a week or two beforehand but I try not to go overboard. And what about stockings? Do you do those as well?

  6. I heard somethng once that said children don’t need a lot to be happy on Christmas morning. As a matter of fact we decided when our kids were small that each child would have only 4 gifts each year.
    -1 want
    -1 need
    -1 something to wear
    -1 something to read

    When the kids were small it was up to us to select what these 4 gifts would include but as the kids got olderthey started making their own list.

    I really made them think about what is a need and what is a want.
    It has worked perfectly in our house for years.

    If only we could get the grandparents on board :)

  7. I am quite happy giving me kids lots and lots of presents. I have 4 children aged 6,5,4 & 2 and they get 12 each from mum and dad. We used to go overboard and they were getting 20 to 30 each not including gifts from other people, but when number 4 came along we decided to cut this days to 12 (like the song the twelve days of christmas) but they all usually go together like last year my eldest daughter got a dollhouse and all the furniture and dolls as separate gifts, my son got various lego sets and my middle daughter got playdough stuff and the little one got a kitchen and all the stuff that goes with it like pots and pans and food etc

  8. The most played with gift ever by all ages at our house was last year when Santa brought a set of plain wooden blocks cut out of three or four two by fours. There were four basic shapes squares, rectangles, wedges, and a bridge shaped one. They cost less than $30 DIY and there were more than I had even imagined when they were finished. They fill two giant tubs when put away. Santa built an enormous castle out of them to discover on Christmas morning. Here we are a year latter and they are played with by at least on of our four kids ages 11-4 almost every day. Best Gift Ever is what my 6 year old daughter said last year.

  9. make this its easy & fun to make plus really cheap!!!
    FLUBBER) Recipe
    • Put 3 T. of water into a ziploc bag.
    • Add 1 T. of white glue.
    • Add 2 heaping T. of Borax (laundry detergent). It must be Borax.*
    Shape into a ball. If the mixture is too sticky, roll the ball in a little bit of Borax. Enjoy stretching this elastic substance.
    Silly Putty Recipe
    • Add: 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (Not School Glue!)
    • Mix and add 3 drops of food coloring (optional)
    • Make Borax solution: Take 2 tablespoons borax (You can buy this at a grocery store or online) and add to 1 cup of water and stir.
    • Add 1/2 cup of Borax solution to water and glue mixture
    • Stir and store in a plastic bag
    Oobleck Recipe
    • 2 parts cornstarch
    • 1 part water
    • natural food coloring with no dyes (optional, as could stain clothing and skin)
    Ingredients for Gak:
    • 1 cup Elmer’s glue
    • neon food coloring, your choice of color (optional: coloring can stain!)
    HOPE ya like!! :)

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