Christmas is rapidly sneaking up. Schools will go on holiday break, family will start to arrive from various points on the globe and kitchens will be filled with the auromas of the season.
Also, the space under the tree which once looked so bare weeks ago when it was first put up will soon be filled with shiny, bright packages holding treasures for all the good little boys and girls (and, hopefully, the adults too!).
Such a grand display of presents can leave many parents scratching their heads, wondering exactly where they are going to store another electric race car track or how their home can possibly hold another baby doll. This year, be proactive when handling the influx of toys and gifts children receive. Approach the holiday season with a game plan, ready to combat the large rush of gifts at Christmas time.
1. Prune now. Before Christmas actually arrives, go through the family’s current toy stash. Make three piles, labeled “Keep”, “Donate” and “Trash.” Have children help decide which toys are keepers and which could be better enjoyed by another child. Stop holding onto broken toys or loose parts, hoping that some day they will be restored. Now is the time to get rid of such odds and ends in preparation for the new things set to arrive at Christmas.
2. Be Prepared. Many relatives or close friends often ask what children want for Christmas. Have a list handy (perhaps by the phone or computer) of possible gift suggestions for little ones. Think outside of the box and provide book titles the family would enjoy or memberships to the local zoo. Christmas presents do not merely have to be plastic toys requiring batteries.
3. Suggest a limit. Grandparents love nothing more than doting on their grandchildren, especially on special occasions like holidays or birthdays. If there is concern that grandparents might be excessive in their gift giving, suggest a gift limit (three is a good number). Great presents from grandparents can include coupons for a one-on-one date with them and the grandchild or tickets to a local event.
4. Stash some gifts away for a rainy day. When children are little, they are prone to lose track of presents in the excitement and craziness of opening gifts. Tuck a few gifts out of sight after the holiday season has passed and save them for a rainy, cold day in February.
5. Practice gratitude. Although mounds of toys everywhere can give parents a headache, it can also serve as the perfect exercise in teaching children to be gracious. After the last pieces of ribbon and paper are tossed in the trash and the Christmas tree has been dismantled, sit down with children and help them write thank-you notes for the presents they received. Jotting out a thank-you is a great writing exercise but it also makes children take the time to think about the effort someone else made to give them a gift.
Lynley Baker Phillips enjoys partaking in various activities around the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her cute husband and two preschool-age children. When not out and about, she is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mommy. Her writings have been featured in various publications, at Examiner.com and on her blog. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.