I’m not a Grinch, but NO MORE CHRISTMAS TOYS, PLEASE!!!

I have fielded about a dozen questions from well-meaning relatives this holiday season alone, all who have asked, “What should I get the kids for Christmas?”

Am I a bad mom if I immediately scream, “NOTHING!!!” (Insert Grinch joke here.)

so many toys, toys, plastic, alternative christmas gifts
No. More. Plastic. PLEASE.

Of course that’s not entirely true. The kids are only 4 and 2, after all. I DO want them to wake up to gifts under their Christmas tree—it’s part of the magic of the holiday, after all—but I know I can’t be alone when I say there is nothing our house needs LESS than another piece of plastic to trip over, step on, or to randomly scare me with auto-turn-on sounds in the middle of the night. (Halloween motion-activated toy that scream like a ghost when I walk past, I’m looking at you!!) Not to mention, the aspiring environmentalist in me also cringes to think of by how many more decades that creepy Fisher Price dance-n-play doll will outlive me in the landfill. (Let’s hope the sanitation workers and crows have a better tolerance for nursery rhyme jingles and blinking colored lights than I do.)

So what’s a well-meaning mom to do when she wants her kids to be happy for Christmas, but doesn’t want to feed the Toy Beast too much? I compiled a list of some alternative Christmas and holiday gift ideas for kids that will keep them happier much longer (hopefully!) than another box full of Legos.

1—Membership to the local science center, zoo or children’s museum.

This one is self-explanatory. Good for a year, scenery always changes, and it wears kids out for naptime. That, my friends, is what we call a WIN-WIN-WIN.

2—Day trip to a nearby amusement or theme park.

It gives Kid something to look forward to. It gives you, maybe, the day off. And they have memories with a loved one to last a lifetime. Mickey ears are a potential bonus.

3—Name a star!

Perhaps best for the older child who also has a bent for astronomy.

There are several websites that cater to this purpose, and you can even get a cool registry kit that tells him/her about the star that’s “deeded” to them. So, something that you can technically wrap up, too. Kinda rad.

4—Kids’ cooking class

Again, this falls under the “something to look forward to” category, with the added benefit of the immediate gratification of consuming something tasty after they complete their task. Maybe present the gift by wrapping up their own, personalized apron, so they have something to open on Christmas morning. And who knows, maybe you’ll get something tasty out of it too! For those in the Orlando area, Playground Magazine has compiled an awesome list of some retailers that host these classes. A simple search for your area, or a call to your local grocery chain or Williams-Sonoma should do the trick.

5—Get outside!

Again, not to cater too much to my Orlando Folk here (although y’all are welcome to come down anytime to visit!), but places like Disney’s Fort Wilderness take ALL the guesswork out of planning a “camping” trip. The amenities are awesome, and even though you’re not exactly going to earn your Scouts’ badge for fire starting, you’re still outside. Or at least near outside. And that counts.

For those who aren’t near Disney, check out your nearest state park. It doesn’t have to be an overnight trip; a backpack loaded with a great picnic lunch and a couple fishing poles will give them the feel of a real adventure, with only being gone part of the day. If you must give something for them to open on Christmas day, maybe a cool baseball cap or a backpack they can load with their “camping gear.”

6–Personalized books

Books. Remember those things, without glowing screens, that we used to read from? Let’s teach our kids to like them, too! I’ve used Put Me in the Story in the past and have loved the results. Kids love that it is just for them, and it makes an awesome keepsake.

Well, I hope that helps a little! Just one mom’s thoughts for keeping the holidays a little simpler, when everything around us seems to keep getting more complicated. Enjoy!

Now I’m off to pick up the Legos that we got last year that STILL WORK JUST FINE! Peace, mamas!

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