Gift Ideas for when the Monsters outnumber you!

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The problem with gifts…

I dread the holidays. The time spent with family is great.  All the craftiness with the monsters is awesome. I love to decorate. But I dread the gifts. I am a minimalist at heart and hate having so much stuff.

But I have monsters…

And Monsters come with stuff. Beasties apparently require twice the amount of stuff too. Then add in birthdays and Christmas, Easter and Valentines, and all those gift giving holidays… and grandparents. Multiply that by 5. That is a lot of stuff. They have so much stuff that a lot of it ends up broken for the sheer lack of anywhere to put it. That’s not exactly teaching them good stewardship of their things when every thing is replaceable. They don’t even have to wait for a trip to the store.

Another problem…

We love going to zoos and aquariums, but as a family of 7 that is hard. Between gas and admission it could easily cost us $250, even if we packed a lunch. A recent beach trip cost around $300 and only 4 of us went. For one day. One of my monsters has been begging to go to Legoland. That’s stretching the budget of a one income family even though we steer clear of all gift shops. Even with free kid admissions we still have to pay gas, parking, and extra admissions. Not to mention food. Monsters and Beasties have to eat. A lot. Near constantly even.

Then I read this incredible post by Ashley Spang over at

The Solution!

Ask for experiences and memories instead. Instead of buying each of the kids 5+ gifts each and creating a mess (looking at you Daddy!) buy them each one gift and a gift card for the family. Not to a store. Some ideas could be:

  • Membership to a children’s museum.
  • Gas cards
  • A family pass to a theme park
  • Season passes to a sporting event
  • Movie tickets
  • Restaurant gift cards
  • a session with a photographer
  • Classes for hobbies
  • A local recreation center membership
  • Collaborate with other gift givers for a vacation
Making memories at the beach
Memory making at the beach!

Other non cluttery gifts

Ok, it is stuff but it still follows the theme of making memories instead of messes.

  • Board games
  • Cards
  • Outside activities
  • Bedding sets
  • Tablets
  • Organizational tools (think toy boxes, shelves for cars, totes for crayons, etc.)
  • Batteries

The best gift Monster 2 received in the last year was a deck of Ninja Turtle Uno cards. That kid loves to play Uno and even though he’s now missing cards, he still won’t let go of that deck. It also comes with the added bonus of getting the family around the table and interacting with each other.  Monster 1 loves Monopoly (and it requires practical math and reasoning skills which makes it a homeschooling score too!)  and recently added this set to his want list, combining his loves of Mario and Monopoly. Monster 4 got a Paw Patrol pillow for his  2nd birthday and still loves it. Which is pretty impressive considering he is almost 4 with an almost 4 year old’s attention span. And it is functional.  Monster 3’s favorite gift is a drone. Which is “stuff”. That drone has seen the sky on 3 occasions. Monster 3 loves it- but he’s afraid of actually using it because it could get lost or broken. In a house with 5 kids that is a very real experience to him. Any one else see the problem with that?

The Etiquette

So how do you go about guiding the gift givers in your life? Guide the conversation. Mention you would love to take the kids to the zoo but admission prices could inhibit. Or start a conversation about memories vs stuff. Hey remember that one toy Uncle Ernie got me for Christmas? How long was it before it was broken and in the trash? Remember the time we went to the beach? Man, that was great.

Or you could write a blog post, share it to social media and tag the people who need to read it the most. Or you could just share mine.

How do you tame the clutter that gifts bring into your home? Feel free to comment any other non cluttery gift ideas below!


Have an idea to share? Please leave a comment below!