5 Reasons I’m not Buying my Kids Christmas Presents this Year


I spent some time this week sorting through “stuff.” And by “stuff” I mean  the 1.78 million toys that my 4 boys have collected through the years. As I was sorting through it and putting it in give away or throw away piles, my mind wandered to presents, gifts, and Christmas.

Christmas. A time when my kids who already have too much stuff, get more stuff. And I started thinking about alternatives to getting more toys. Last year my husband ran the Rock n Roll half in San Antonio and we took our twins. They loved it. They were 5 at the time, and when we got home, they did their fair share of bragging to our 7 year old who missed out on the trip. They still talk about San Antonio.

But do you know what they don’t talk about?
They don’t talk about that 1500 piece Lego set they got from Santa. They don’t talk about that nerf gun with torn up bullets. They talk about the river boat ride and the Children’s museum. They talk about staying in a hotel that had a playground with it. They talk about our memories.

Once I realized this, I immediately texted my husband and said “Hey! What do you think about not getting any presents for our kids or each other, but instead we could take a family trip? We already have too many things.”

And he said “YES!”

So guys, I would like to share with you 5 reasons that I am not getting my kids Christmas presents this year. (Although we may draw names and let the kids get each other one small thing)

Too Much Stuff

As I have already mentioned, we already have too many things. They don’t need any of the big things- bikes, trampoline, fort, etc. We already have like 2000 legos, 100 magnatiles, 250 lincoln logs, 500 train tracks, and more. And quite often my boys think it’s a great idea to get dump everything out and mix it all together like ingredients in a cake recipe. We do not need more of that.

Grandparents and family

Now, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids definitely love going through the magazines and picking out things they would like. And I am not going to stop them from doing that. I plan on just giving their Christmas lists to their grandparents. They have awesome grandparents and family members who spoil them, so my kids won’t be missing out. But Ryan and I will be using our money on a trip instead of a gift.

Our time is a gift

Time is so valuable. It is priceless. I know my kids might not remember their zip line trip, or first time to see a lion. But I will. And they will remember that I was there. With them. Giving them my time. And time is what is most important. Distraction free. No house to clean, neighbors to visit, basketball practice, no work- just family to focus on. That time is something we will never get back. I can always go run to the store and grab my kid a gift, but I will never be able to go back to the time when they’re 8, 6, and 2 and take them on a trip.

Memories over materials

That imaginext batcave? Yeah, that is something that will be loved and played with, then thrown away in a couple of years. But those family memories. Those moments spent strengthening a bond, a relationship with my children are precious. When I reflect back on my childhood Christmas memories, I can’t remember one toy that I got. But I can remember going to Colorado and stopping on the side of the road to play in the snow. I can tell you about going to the mountains and going fishing. I can tell you about the many hunting trips we took when I thought my toes might fall off. I can remember the time I spent with my family.


I know that life shouldn’t revolve around money, but when you have mouths to feed and needs to provide for, money is definitely a factor. I did some searching and found that thanks to Groupon and a Children’s Museum membership, we can stay 3 nights in San Antonio and do 3 fun activities for about the same amount of money that we spend on gifts each year. And to me, that is money better spent.

I am anxious to see how this turns out. But I am more excited than anything. I can’t wait to see their faces when they open their tickets to go do the Natural Bridge Caverns and Zip line. I can’t wait to hear their squeals when they pack their bags the morning we surprise them and say we’re leaving. I know that they may initially feel disappointed to not have gifts to unwrap, but I know in the long run that they will love the fun they will have on our little trip.

If anyone else does a trip instead of gifts, I would love to hear from you!
How do you do it? Do your kids enjoy it? Give me all your tips!

*In addition to giving them a memory instead of a toy, I am also hoping to start a tradition of giving them a gift that they can give away. I want them to be more aware of others needs than focused on their personal wants. I am still working on ideas for this, so I would gladly welcome any suggestions!

As always, sharing is caring and I would love to connect on Facebook!

13 thoughts on “5 Reasons I’m not Buying my Kids Christmas Presents this Year

  1. Valerie says:

    Thank you for writing this. My hubby and I fostered for a long time. We still see some of those kids and they want gifts and their parents have gone overboard so we do something where we spend time together.

  2. Emma @ Muddy Boots and Diamonds says:

    This is the second post I’ve read today about this subject 🙂 The struggle is real, and I feel you!

    I look back on my own childhood and there are a handful of gifts that stand out and I have fond memories of. Everything else as been experiences. I love the idea of a trip, and I hope we’ll be able to do that once the boys are a little older. We’d talked about Disney, but I’d rather go when our kids can remember going 🙂

    We’re still trying to figure Christmas out. I would rather my kids get memberships to museums or parks and subscription boxes that let them be creative. My in-laws are all about objects they can watch the boys interact with immediately. It means i butt heads with them a little on the lists they ask me to create for them. We have brand new toys in a closet from two years ago that were never opened because the amount of what the boys got for Christmas and birthdays was too much, even for them! I kept them because my MiL will come over and ask where “such and such” toy is. It makes purging a nightmare for me :oP

  3. Sarah | Loving Little Dixie says:

    We have been struggling with the “stuff” complex for the last few years, too. Each year, we’ve managed to find a balance, but it’s tough. My kids rarely have a list large enough for all the members in our family. They just don’t want a lot of stuff, and when they do get it, it gets played with for a while and tossed aside – just like you said. I think a trip is a great idea.

  4. Desirae says:

    We have 4 kids, and me and my husband have thought about this too. They get so many gifts from family, they don’t really need anything from us. I love the idea of a family trip.

  5. Amber Starr says:

    This is exactly how I feel! We have so much already and they will certainly get plenty of gifts from family too. They are each getting a Santa gift and then we are doing experience gifts!

  6. Jen says:

    As a parent of kids that a;so have way too much stuff, we are planning to do something similar. Were doing a trip in January and cutting back a lot on gifts.

  7. Rachel says:

    Honestly, I don’t remember any of my Christmas presents and I got a ton. Mostly I remember the food and playing card games with my grandparents or board games with my cousins or skating and sledding if the weather was cooperating and singing Christmas carols.

  8. Anastasia Brown says:

    I am so excited to hear how this turns out! It’s something I’d like to do. So far haven’t talked my partner into. We also don’t have doting relatives to buffer it with other gifts. I am really interested in your kids’ reactions.

    What I’ve been doing the last two years is a departure for us. I’ve followed the advice I found in a post about “non-toy” gifts. That includes gifts of experiences but also useful gifts (like appropriately sized tools ), tickets for things to do together, unusual things to make, even ways to pass down something meaningful from relatives they never met. (Here’s the post if anyone is interested. lauragraceweldon.com/2014/12/04/100-non-toy-gifts-for-toddlers-to-teens)

    The post inspired some big changes. What worked out best for my 9-year-old last year was some camping gear and a parent-made “pass” that he could use to camp out all night in our backyard. He was in absolute heaven. For my 11-year-old, the big hit was some woodworking tools including a whittling knife. This year, I kid you not, he’s making gifts for people UNPROMPTED by me out of wood including a moveable jointed dog for his brother!

    Maybe next year we’ll give a trip-instead-of-gifts idea a try!

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