In defense of toys: The gift-giving season

//In defense of toys: The gift-giving season

So funny: When CityMom Morgan sent us her post this month, we were like ‘wait, this isn’t JUST a holiday conversation. The defense of toys as gifts is totally a year-round thing!’ So if you’re coming here November-December, yes. You’re just in time for prime gift-giving season and these tips are key. But if you’re visiting January-October, know these tips still apply to you. Now take it away Morgan!


Well, hello last few days of November. We meet again. While it’s hard to believe another Thanksgiving feast is behind us, the commercials, city streets, and store aisles have been letting us know for weeks that the holiday gift-buying season is upon us…and now, there is no denying it. It’s officially here.

And with the arrival of the holidays in our social media driven world come the blogs and the posts about how to do them right. You’ve seen them. Perhaps you’ve shared them or even written them. Posts about saving money, saving time, saving your sanity.

One piece, or a variation of it, circulates each year around this time. And it’s one I can totally get behind. 100%. Spot on. This: Experiences over “things.” I am there for this message. Science is there for this message. We are, as a whole, much happier when we spend money on experiences rather than spending it to buy new “things.” Things that just end up as clutter, taking up space, losing their allure when the next best “thing” comes along.  

defense of toys - theCityMoms

As a mom, I love engaging in experiences {museums, concerts, theatre, sporting events} with my kiddos. My kiddos love them, too!  And I hate clutter. Like, sincerely hate. It. I am the least sentimental person when it comes to things. My children will not be rummaging through boxes of nostalgia when they are grown, because it will largely have moved on {to a new home or a recycling bin or a garbage can}.  

And yet, even as this message of “less stuff, more memories” makes its annual appearance, and I look around at all the toys strewn about–items that I know will surely be forgotten alongside the shiny brand new gifts of the holiday–I know that my children will still be opening up more packages of toys than experiences on Christmas morning.

With this in mind, I wanted to consider and offer up some ideas on how to gift toys mindfully – while honoring a desire for less clutter, less “stuff” – and with more meaning in this year’s gift-giving.

Think age appropriate.

There are some really great toy guides by age that can help you understand just what is best for your child developmentally. Toys can be a boon for imagination and milestone development when engaged with appropriately. By understanding what is really appropriate for your child developmentally, you can buy toys that will actually get played with and even help your child learn and grow. Gifts of toys can be gifts with a purpose and not just another piece of plastic that gets shoved in a corner.

Buy toys with built in experiences.

Board games. Modeling clay. Art supplies. A child-friendly cookbook. A funky crochet kit.  Think about toys and books that provide your child with a variety of experiences built into a tangible item or set of items.  Gift opportunities to be creative, learn a new skill, or have fun together over family game night. These types of gifts are different each time your child engages with them and can even lead them to discover an innate talent they want to foster as they grow.

Re-gift with sentiment.

Did your own parents save your 1980s Teddy Ruxbin or favorite {now vintage} board games?  Look for a way to pass on something that meant a lot to you as a child to create new memories for your children. Write your child a note with a fond story from your experience with that particular gift or toy. For really young children with older siblings, consider “re-gifting” toys from older siblings that feel like new to them. They likely won’t know the difference, and it’s an opportunity to get more use out of toys that older children have grown out of enjoying.


STILL NOT SOLD ON TOYS? Hey we hear you. And we have a great list of amazing non-toy options right here. 


Consider gifts that keep on giving.

Subscriptions keep Christmas coming all year round. There are a ton of children’s magazines on the market for all sorts of interest levels. Even Highlights offers three different magazines based on age level {Hello, High Five, and the original Highlights most of us remember}. There are also a variety of subscription boxes for various interests that provide monthly activities for children to try, staving off the boredom of a toy that grows “stale” with time.

Create a habit of donating or paying toys forward.

Each year before Christmas, my kiddos and I go through their current toys and consider what is no longer used or played with and think about a good place to pass them along. We may pass them along to a close friend or cousin or we may find an organization that will know the best way to gift them to families or children who will delight in them the way my own kiddos once did. This is an opportunity to discuss the gift of giving, and giving with care, while also providing space for the new toys that will indeed come.

While experiences are incredible {and it is fun to unwrap concert or airline tickets}—we all have cherished memories of unwrapping a favorite toy that we have longed for for months. Also, here in the Midwest, the winter is very cold and very grey–and I know to anticipate a number of days in which we will be stuck in our house, no place to easily go, needing games and toys and books to keep us all from going stir crazy. I will always come to the defense of gifting toys for this very reason.

With these sentiments in mind as I shop this year, it is my hope that I can at least give tangible items with lasting appeal that will continue long after the boxes and ribbons are put away and our regular schedules have resumed. Perhaps this guide will do the same for you.

Happy gifting, fellow mommas!

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Morgan Studer - theCityMomsABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Morgan Studer is a southern transplant in the Midwest who still considers 70 degrees jacket weather, and is always on the hunt for the best biscuits and gravy. Her day job in the higher education world connects her passions for continuous learning and personal growth with community engagement.

On weekends you’ll find her adventuring with her husband and two children, grabbing ice cream, Geocaching at a local park, or snuggling up with a few good books.

Morgan enjoys a hot cup of coffee, exploring new places on foot, and settling in for a good Netflix binge.

2018-11-30T01:02:32+00:00November 29th, 2018|
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