After the candles have been blown out, the streamers taken down and the elaborate, Pinterest-worthy cake table disassembled, there's just one thing left to do—find room for all of the toys your children have amassed from their birthday blowout.
We live in a world of surplus, and kids' parties are no exception. Not only do you now have too much stuff and not enough room for it, but your child now expects to be showered with gifts at every occasion.
Some parents have come up with alternative solutions to combat the problem of over-gifting. While they are not always popular with well-meaning relatives who can't wait to hand little Susie a new doll and pinch her cheek, they help to keep birthday stress levels down and help to promote a grateful attitude among children.
1. Enact a "no gifts" policy
Belton mom, Jennifer Jones, instituted a "no gifts" policy for her daughter's first birthday, mostly because her daughter's birthday is so close to Christmas.
"The thought of adding even more new toys to the mix inspired me to ask for no gifts at her party," she said. "I just felt like she already had more than enough, and I like the idea of her being able to enjoy and really use the toys she already has."
Jones felt good about her decision, even though some guests asked if she was serious about no gifts.
"It felt like the party was more of a ‘thank you' we were giving our friends and family for the love and support they had given us that year, and I hoped that it helped people to see that their presence was what was truly important to us, not a gift that they would bring."
If you want to try enacting the "no gifts" policy at your child's next celebration, try adding phrases like "no gifts please" or "your presence is your present" to the party invitations.
2. Ask guests to bring a book
When Jones was planning her daughter's second birthday party, she was determined to keep the overabundance of gifts to a minimum once more. But because some of the guests at the first party felt like they were coming empty-handed, she decided to ask each friend or family member to bring a book for daughter Kate's library.
"Kate loves to read, so this was actually the perfect gift, and we have gotten so much daily enjoyment from the books," she said. "I included a bookplate with the invitation for our guests to fill out and stick inside the book, so it is fun showing her who gave her each book and reading their messages to her."
3. Encourage intentional gift giving
Jones tries whenever possible to steer family members toward "informed" gifts that will enhance something her daughter already plays with.
"The best example of this was the Christmas before she turned two when Santa gave her a playhouse with a kitchen set inside," she said. "I asked all of our family members to give her pots, pans, and food items that could go inside her playhouse. It worked out really great because on Christmas she got one really awesome ‘complete' gift."
The Belton mom also utilizes online wish lists where gift givers can browse and buy from a list of items Kate actually wants and needs.
4. Encourage guests to bring donations
While some parents opt for no gifts, some are using their kids' celebrations to help others in their community. Instead of asking party guests to bring a gift for the birthday boy or girl, they are asking for new toys for local toy drives, monetary donations for local charities or supplies for local animal shelters.
If you are going to ask for guests to bring donated items, make sure you give specifics about your cause in the invitation and a list of acceptable donations.
5. Put gifts away for a rainy day
If all else fails and your encouragement to bring less or bring nothing at all to your child's party has fallen on deaf ears, then gather up half of their new toy stash and put it away for a rainy day. Not only will this limit the clutter, but it will also give them something "new" to play with throughout the year.
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