Lately, I have been on a toy purging tear!  I almost have it whittled down to a library-like check out system.  They have play food, dress up & one box of favorites out each.  That’s it.

But I love shopping — especially for open-ended toys.  Right now we have Duplos, wood blocks, large alphabet blocks, Legos, Lincoln logs & bristle blocks.  Just because.  Can you say, holy blocks batman?  Sheesh.

Luckily, both our families are awesome about not buying a ton of toys.  If you aren’t that lucky, though,  here are two great ways we limit our gifts for the kids during the holidays.

The Three Wise Men

I had considered carrying this to actually exchanging gifts on the Epiphany but decided against it.  The 3 gift option is:

Gold – one BIG thing/toy that they really want
Frankincense – something for their body
Myrrh – something spiritual or religious

This year, we are using this strategy.  Not only does it limit the gimmes, but it helps keep the day focused on Jesus a bit more.

4 Gifts In Rhyme

The other strategy is one we’ve used in years past.    It is:

Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.

Though we decided not to use it for Christmas anymore, I DO use it for a guideline for birthday gift giving.

Family Gift

In addition to individual gifts, there is also a family gift.  Usually it is whatever Disney movies have come out of the vault.  Sometimes it’s a big gift for everyone–a trip or a trampoline, perhaps.


Finally, since (in our experience), kids get sick of opening gifts & just want to play by package three anyway, we decided to move stockings to the night of 12/5.  The next day is the Feast of St. Nicholas and we fill the stockings instead of the shoes.  Our stocking list includes:

– apple
– orange (first of the season!)
– gingerbread men
– candy cane
– chocolate coins
– Christmas ornament
– small toy
– religious item.

You can see my full post on why we fill our stockings like this at Catholic Mothers Online.

Need religious item ideas?  Check out Catholic Gifts for All Ages at CatholicMom & Catholic Gifts for Kids 0-5 at Catholic Mothers Online.


How do you set reasonable gift expectations?


Jen S.

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