#NaBloPoMo Day 20: Toys

We have too many toys. It’s really unbelievable how many we have accumulated in just over 7 years of having children in the house. And it seems no matter how many I purge, the amount of toys never seem to be at a manageable level. Last week, I bagged up probably 80% of the toys in our playroom, just to put away for awhile, or until one of the kids asks for a specific one. So far, they have not.

The thing is, they hardly play with the toys. They like little trinkets, and cardboard boxes, and art supplies. They build with their wooden blocks, and Magnatiles, and wear the dress-up clothes. The rest of the toys just get dumped and scattered, day after day.

With Christmas coming, I’ve been doing some serious thinking about how to give the kids a “magical” Christmas without adding more toys that won’t be played with once the novelty wears off.

This year, I am determined not to get overwhelmed by Christmas. The holiday season is definitely not my favorite, mostly because reality never measures up to expectations. The kids aspect of Christmas is incredibly stressful for me, because it seems like for most of the year, I am constantly trying to minimize/purge/organize and then it all falls apart with a haul of new toys. Of course, the actual opening of presents is exciting, and of course it’s fun for them to have new stuff, but then, the playroom fills up quickly and the purging process starts over again.

I think this year, we are going to try the Want/Need/Wear/Read strategy (I love how Kyla has implemented it for her family). I like the idea of just 4 gifts from Santa/Mom and Dad- it seems manageable on my end and I think the kids will still get to experience the excitement of Christmas morning. I also want to do some experience gifts- both C and N need swimming lessons and Charlotte wants to take karate.

So…talk to me about toys (especially for preschoolers)

  1. I’ve read several times that the less toys kids have in their playroom, the longer they will play. If you find this to be true, how many do you have and what are they?
  2. What are the best toys you have? Our go-tos are blocks/Magnatiles, dress up clothes, and art supplies. What am I missing?
  3. What are some good alternatives to toys that are actual tangible gifts that kids could open on Christmas? I love, love books, but we have a ton, and we get 20+ books at the library every week, so I’m not sure if spending money on a lot of books is what I want to do.

What is your kid gift giving strategy at Christmas? Do you struggle with too many toys that no one plays with? 



  1. noemi on November 21, 2017 at 3:24 am

    We are deep into Legos right now, and the Juniors sets (Ages 4-7) are totally doable for my son. He LOVES taking them apart and reconstructing them (with the instructions again). He will definitely be getting more LEGO Junior sets.

    I also struggle with Christmas, for all the same reasons (as you know). I honestly don’t know what the answer is. I wish I could say it’s the g-parents fault because they get them so much, but I get them too much too. I need to stop, but I don’t know how. :-/

    • Elizabeth on November 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      I think it’s probably time for us to dip our toe into Legos- I just cringe because Nolan is in the “dump and destroy” phase (ugggh- the worst) so I’ll have to come up with some way of separating him from any Legos until he’s ready to play with them appropriately.

  2. Cathy on November 21, 2017 at 10:53 am

    We have a lot of toys too, and have started giving fewer of them. Luckily, as my kids are all getting older, they are all heavily interested in all things technology (like, the programming side of things, not just video games), so we encourage that. Mostly we try to avoid things that will fall into the pile of “small plastic crap”.

    We have a preschool level microscope and binoculars that are amazing. (Educational Insights brand.) They look at their other toys, leaves, rocks, lost teeth, etc, under the microscope, and the binoculars come with us on every nature walk. Magnadoodles and aquadoodles still get used here. I started giving them (cheap or kid-specific) cameras when they were 4. There’s a new aerogarden skewed toward kids (so you can watch it grow underneath) or a root-vue farm for traditional growing. We also gift 1 board game to each of them each year, so we have a pretty hefty collection.

    So those are my favorites at the moment – hope it helps!

    • Elizabeth on November 21, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      These are great suggestions- thank you! C is in a Gardening class at her preschool right now so she would probably love the aerogarden. And I was already considering the camera for her as well.

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