Specifically, from very close family members. Like parents and in-laws.
We don't have a lot of clutter. But what we do have is almost entirely unwanted gifts from family members.
Like the 3 different types of Memory that they have bought DD over the last two years. Or the weird things that we will never use and serve no practical purpose.
I have no problem with immediately re-gifting/donating gifts from extended family that we will not use, but I tend to hang onto things from our parents for a rather long time. Especially if it is from my side of the family; my mom will ask follow-up questions about gifts, or look for it in my house 5 years down the road at some random moment.
How do you handle it? I'm at breaking point, because we literally have a whole shelf filled with useless things that we don't want. (And as much as we've tried to stop it from being given to us in the first place, it never seems to happen). Because it's the thought that counts, right? But, then I have to stare at a cluttered closet for years, and well...that doesn't make my thoughts very happy.
I'm also curious, what do you do when your kid just receives WAY TOO MANY gifts from family? DD's 5th birthday was in November, and between her birthday party, family gifts, and Chanukah, she has way too many things than we have space to store. And of course, since they are all new, she doesn't want to part with any of them. How do you handle that? For seem reason, our family this year just could not keep it under control, and she received piles of gifts, too many to fit in all her toy storage areas, so they are now taking over our living room.
I thought, at least where toys are concerned, we had our family well trained. Not sure what happened this year, both sides went a little berserk.
I am also a lover of books , treehugger , and occasional soapbox stander!
I love sending toys to live at the grandparents house. Or opening them there and never bringing them home.
At home, you seem to have a set place for toys, we do too. For us it has to fit there, or something needs to go. I try to keep the new stuff around for a few months, but pretty soon things move out.
I would pick a nice neutral like and repeat it until the end of time whenever they ask. We keep as many of DD's favourite toys as fit in the toy space and give new homes to the rest. We find she plays for longer and more creatively when things are not overcrowded. She loves the X you gave her for Y.
I really think that after a point you can not control what people give you. Your obligation is to be gracious, generally to write a nice thank you note and then do what works best for your family. I honesty see nothing wrong with poping the thank you note in the postbox and the gift in the goodwill box on the way home if that is the right choice.
For choosing what stays and goes, after the first love wears off, I love the idea of deciding on the toy space and then letting her choose what stays.
My inlaws tend to buy everything and then some on the suggested list. My parents are great, this year two gifts per kid this year (one a home knit stuffy, perfectly suited to the kid), three books to share and a few stickers.
Mama to Monkey (Jan '09), Bee (May '11), and Cat (August, '13)
That's a really good point. I have no problem with the graciousness and thankfulness, it's the doing what works best for my family that I struggle with.
Honestly, I think our bigger problem is the adult gifts. :-) I can donate things from my in-laws right away, they never ask to see them again. My mom is a different story. She's also incredibly sensitive, and has been very hurt in the past when finding out I gave away a gift from her. I know she is overreacting about it, but it still makes me feel like a terrible daughter, kwim? But each year, the pile of junk keeps getting bigger, no matter how many times I ask them not to give us gifts (especially because I don't even celebrate Christmas anymore!!! DH is Jewish, and we don't exchange holiday gifts with each other).
The sending toys to live at the grandparent's is a great idea, it's just that we don't live anywhere near the grandparents.
I always let DD choose which toys to keep and which to give away, I just feel bad because we did that right before her birthday, and we pared down a bit, so it's hard for her to do it again so soon. I would like to get rid of some of the new stuff, and she's pretty set against it. I'm thinking of giving her one more month with all the new things, and then asking her to pare down so it all fits on her shelves. There are a few craft kits that were just a really poor quality (markers not working, cheap plastic that is already broken), that will probably just 'disappear' in the next week. I usually don't do that, but the arts and crafts supplies are out of control, and she's not a huge craft fan, anyway.
I am also a lover of books , treehugger , and occasional soapbox stander!
So for myself, I don't get many gifts aside from occasionally chocolates or something. But no, I don't have qualms about immediately donating things I don't need. If I can't use it, likely someone else can, so I don't want to hoard things! DH & I have even, in certain situations, asked the giver if they wanted back an expensive item. DH's dad gave him something he doesn't need but it was a pricey item. He ended up calling his dad & telling him, "Thanks so much, I wish I could use this but I can't because XYZ. Would you like it back so you can get your money back?" (In that case, his dad even gave him the money on a gift card so DH could get things he did need... like socks.) Obviously this may not work with more sensitive givers...
Kid stuff is much harder. I've often peeked into the wrapped gifts and removed items that I didn't want DS to have. (I know this is controversial but I had good reasons that I felt justified my choice!) Sometimes that isn't possible -- like when the giver is right there waiting for him to open the gift they've just handed him. This year especially was tough for that! He received one thing I really didn't want him to have (exacerbated his sensory issues). He played with it that one day and then at night I put it away. He hasn't asked about it & it's been nearly a week. I'll probably hang onto it for a couple more weeks & if he really wants it I will take it out of storage & just limit how much he plays with it or something. If I left it out, I'm sure he'd play with it daily, but since it's out of sight, he doesn't seem to care. Other things he opened & has no interest in... so those we leave in the package & will return or donate them in a week or two (once I'm sure he really doesn't want them). There are a few things he received & loves but we don't have the space for. We'll just deal with a messy, cluttered living space for a couple of weeks, and then pare down or at least rotate them in & out of storage.
So I guess my answer is we wait about a week for things we know we don't need/want, and a month or so for things DS might enjoy for a bit before we pass them on or store them. One idea I had (that I never followed though with, sadly) was donating a few toys (like puzzles) to our local library. Then DS could use them too when we visit, and the library would have appreciated it, and it wouldn't be cluttering up our home. Also think about whether there are any groups your DD is involved in that could use some communal toys (maybe her school or her playgroup)... then when grandma asks she will hopefully be thrilled to hear that DD and all her friends are enjoying the toys.
I leave presents where the kids open them. Nana gets new presents for her house and Great Grandma for her house.
I rotate gifts.
I openly tell family "I appreciate xyz BUT she already has 1 or 2 or how ever many. Would you mind if we exchanged it for something else?"
I ask for what dc needs/actually wants/is interested in
I ask for things like movie passes/gc ect
I also ask for craft supplies. Then the kids make crafts for whoever gave them presents. Craft stuff comes in...then leaves again and people love getting the kids art
Put a limit on gifts. 1 thing to wear 1 toy. Period. And say whatever else comes in gets thrown out. It's taken 6y of this routine for my fam to ACTUALLY get that yes I will indeed "throw" it out(which means regifting it or giving it to charity. I never actually throw out good toys that could be loved by a child in need)