Minimizing Holiday Toy Overload

I really love the Christmas season. The cookies, the lights, the snow, the music, the cookies… 🙂

One thing that I could really do without, however, is the stress of knowing that there will be a large influx of presents in my house. Don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful for my family and friends who love us enough to give us gifts for Christmas. But, these are new things that will be added to the copious amount of other toys/games/activities that ALREADY don’t have an organized place in my home. If you are like me, it doesn’t matter how much you try to organize, there will be Barbies in the Hot Wheels bin and random bits of paper mixed into the Play Doh. It’s chaos on top of chaos. Clutter on top of clutter. And, try though I might… it stresses me out. The more gifts, the more stress.

We have implemented a Christmas present tradition in our home that attempts to mitigate some of the anxiety around the holiday while maintaining the magical experience that is Christmas for our girls. Here are a few ideas to help make Christmas-gift-influx less stressful in your home.

3 Gifts – Like the Magi

This is the tradition in our home. Santa only brings 3 gifts. I always say, “If it was good enough for Jesus, It’s good enough for my kids.” Christmas morning is hectic if there are tons of presents to open. This helps us slow it down and let the kids actually look at and enjoy their gifts instead of looking for what is next. It also helps us incorporate the story of Christmas into the mix. The 3 wise men came to give Jesus gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. There is always one more present (the best one) that is always from Mom and Dad though. 😉

Something You Want, Something You Need ….

I have heard several versions of this one, but here is the one I have heard most.

“Something you want, something you need, something to share, and something to read”

Each child gets 4 gifts. The first (Something you want) could be a toy, game, or play item. The second (Something you Need) could be socks, underwear,school supplies, shoes, etc. Something to Share could be a game for family time or maybe their favorite candy to share. And Something to Read, of course, a new book/magazine in a subject they love.


Instead of gifting “stuff,” consider purchasing experiences for your children. Ask family members who are looking for holiday gift ideas to contribute to season or individual passes to a local museum, theme park, zoo, or theater. Less “stuff” in your home and memories to last a lifetime!



My family has grown considerably over the last few years. The current count is 16 cousins – ages 10 and under between both sides of the family (and another on the way). It’s pretty overwhelming to plan out and purchase incredible gifts for all of them. Instead, have the kids exchange names and choose a gift for one family member. They get excited to choose something special for their one person and the present count stays at a manageable number.


How does your family minimize the stress and clutter of the holidays? How do you keep your anxiety in check? Share with me below.

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