How do you ask for fewer & better gifts? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-07-2006, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 4 months old now. I'm hoping through my son's childhood to keep his toys pared down to just a few high quality, useful, and fun toys. It seems that most of the time you can only get good wooden toys and such online. Not everyone shops online. Before, I basically made a request for very little plastic, no battery operated stuff, and please give books if unsure. Well, this resulted in nothing but stuffed animals, no books. I don't want a ton of stuffed animals for him, I want him to have good toys! Should I just put out a wish list in the future? I've looked at big kid's toys, it doesn't get much easier to find good stuff in typical stores as they get older. I hate to tell people specifically what to give him and where to get it, but what else can I do?
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:31 PM
 
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I wish I had suggestions for you, but I don't. I have this problem too. I have found that making a detailed list does not help at all in my case. I made wish lists one year (the kids did actually), at the ILs request, then sent the list and the catalouge to them. The kids still got a bunch of plastic battery operated toys that ended up at goodwill.

It's mostly DH's family that does not listen at all. They go so overboard with gifts. I am trying not to sound ungrateful (although I am sure some people here will say I am anyway), I am blessed to have people who love my kids so much they want to shower them with gifts... but my kids have way way too much junk and frankly the ILs don't have money to throw away on toys my kids don't play with. They come from a whole different world of disposable items and vast consumerism... we just don;t see eye to eye. The only thing I can suggest is to return or re-gift the stuff you don't want/need. It's easy when they are babies

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Old 08-07-2006, 03:49 PM
 
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I wish I had some advice that would work. We "demanded" no more than 3 gifts per kid, preferably 1 clothing item, 1 book and 1 toy/educational game. they end up with a ton of cheap, useless toys, one or two books total from a total of nine people who gave them gifts, and outfits that are either 1- not anything I'd allow my cat, let alone my child to wear in public, or 2- the wrong size, despite their sizes being clearly stated on the gift lists everyone asked for.

If you figure out something that works, LMK. I'm at my wits end
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:50 PM
 
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I ran into this with our DD!

I told my mom, dad, brother, MIL, FIL, SMIL, BIL, basically everyone that we were only going to be using wooden toys, building blocks and books. I never told them what they could and couldn't get for DD, but they definately took the hint.

I also created a wishlist on www.wishlist.com for DH, DD and myself.
You can list exactly what you want...descriptions, colors, sizes, link URL's and websites, stores where it's available, etc. It's great!
You can notify everyone via email that you've created a wishlist and then they'll be sent the password so that they can view your wishlist. You can update it at anytime and denote if an item is for a special event such as a birthday, anniversary, just because, etc.
This has definately cut down on DD's receiving toys we don't want her to have! Currently she has her own library bookcase "stocked" and she's only 4 months old!

Good luck

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Old 08-07-2006, 05:20 PM
 
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You can ask but don't expect results! LOL!

My in-laws would rather spend $100 on each of my 4 children buying inferior Chinese child made plastic junk than buy them lessons at the cool local art school where they go or passes to the many places here in Central FL we'd like to go (zoo, Sea World, etc.).

I give up. I buy my children 1-3 treasures and that's that.

My folks are somewhat better in that they take the children out shopping and you never know what they might get!
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:27 PM
 
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Some of my family gets it, and some of my family does not. He's 2.5, so I'm still able to make things "disappear" and donate them after he's enjoyed them a short time (and he never misses what I've cleared out) but as time goes on, this will be more difficult.

This year I actually have been brainstorming what DH and I will get him for the holidays, as we have another baby on the way due a few weeks before Christmas, so I want to get my shopping done early. In any case, part of what I did was to make up a list of mainstream options that were desirable, in case anyone asks (that doesn't happen all that often unfortunately).

Realistically, most of my family/DH's family won't go out of their way to find online retailers, etc. that sell the types of toys we buy ourselves, and although there are lots of brick and mortar stores that sell quality things that twe would use, most people don't know where to look.

This year's list of more mainstream options includes art supplies (as DS is getting more interested in things like playdoh, etc.). Paint brushes, washable markers, glue sticks, stickers, fuzzy pom poms, finger paint, paper (we use huge tablets for watercolor painting with DS that AC Moore and Michaels sell), etc.

I also added a few board games as he's getting more interested in these (Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Zingo, Barrel of Monkeys, Zingo, etc.).

Not sure what will show up on our doorstep, but worth a try I guess :
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:45 PM
 
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I found that my mil finds things that are in my childs interest and then goes way over board. she bought the whole dora house and it is just overwhelming for my dd(4) to play with. I even tried putting away some of the pieces and she still stares at it...this is my child who will make things our of sticks and paper, so i know that she wasn't into the toy.

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Old 08-07-2006, 05:55 PM
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one of my friends 'divided duties' between the families. Each family member was given a 'type of toy' that they were allowed to buy. Maternal grandmother covered stuffed toys; paternal grandmother covered educational toys; maternal uncle did books; paternal aunt did art supplies. she then set a dollar amount per holiday. grandparents had higher numbers than aunts/uncles. She asked friends to not buy gifts at all.

she divided duties based on the individual person's seeming interest. this seemed to help a lot and keep people focused. Right before the holiday, she would make suggestions of how parents and aunt/uncle could combine efforts.
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Old 08-07-2006, 06:09 PM
 
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I was always taught that it was bad manners toask for specific gifts unless asked.

When people ask I give specific items in a variety of price ranges.

If DS gets something that is not appropriate I return it or regift it or give it to charity.

A giver has a right to give the gift they want to give. Once it is in your house you have the right to do what you want with it.

If a relative asks where XY or Z is be honest. Tell them you do not allow DC to play with plastic toys or wear inappropriate clothing, etc. Most people will eventually get the hint.

I think that most people have DC's best interest at heart. They just need to realize that one nicely made toy is much better then a pile of cheap crap that will break in ten minutes.

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Old 08-07-2006, 06:22 PM
 
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Thankfully my inlaws because of the costs of shipping would rather give more$$ than ship. So the kids can buy what they want with their money or if its Christmas dh and I pick out all the gifts with the $$ given to us for them.



Dh and Iwrite down ideas all year of stuff we think the girls would really be into or like.
It works out very well IMO.
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Old 08-10-2006, 01:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach'smom
I was always taught that it was bad manners toask for specific gifts unless asked.

When people ask I give specific items in a variety of price ranges.

If DS gets something that is not appropriate I return it or regift it or give it to charity.

A giver has a right to give the gift they want to give. Once it is in your house you have the right to do what you want with it.

If a relative asks where XY or Z is be honest. Tell them you do not allow DC to play with plastic toys or wear inappropriate clothing, etc. Most people will eventually get the hint.

I think that most people have DC's best interest at heart. They just need to realize that one nicely made toy is much better then a pile of cheap crap that will break in ten minutes.
This sounds like the best, most realistic advice for me. Good Call! I will keep this in mind.

I also have a huge problem with getting crap gifts too and am looking for advice on how to handle it w/o being impolite.
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Old 08-10-2006, 05:28 PM
 
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I have a problem with Dhs side of the family buying way too many gifts for not just dd but dh & myself too. Dd & ds are the *only* kids in the family but the family is just obsessed with spending lots of money on gifts for each of the 15 or so adults in the family. : As much as I appreciate the thought, 90 % of what they buy us goes to Goodwill the week after Christmas. Last year I gave everyone some jars of homemade jam and my MIL gave them all a card saying she had donated money to Habitat for Humanity in the family name. She & I are sick of the insane amounts of gifts piled halfway through the room that has the Christmas tree. Its just crazy!

I tried tactfully mentioning that Anna does not play with plastic or battery operated toys, and they seemed to get the point. Except now she gets like more clothes than she needs for an entire year (Dhs aunt bought her 4 expensive coats last year!) and a mountain of stuffed toys. My MIL and I have both explained that we would prefer to do a gift exchange and to limit the gifts, but they were not interested. It makes me sad that they spend money on us and then we have to give most of it away, but I cannot let my home become the hoarding nightmare that most of Dhs family lives like. I dont really think there is a nice way to ask for a specific kind of gift, so you just have to find a good way to donate what you cant use.

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Old 08-12-2006, 03:49 PM
 
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We have a nice toystore near us that specializes in wooden toys, quality items (like the kathe kruse- sp?) dolls, melissa & doug items.
Do you have anything like that near you where you could direct them and then they could pick the actual gift??

~e, wife to my sweet T , mama to my turtleman (12) , sunshine (9 ), and monkey (6)
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Old 08-12-2006, 08:50 PM
 
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Mama to DD (8) DS (7) & DS (1)

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Old 08-12-2006, 10:14 PM
 
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For close family, basically our parents and siblings (who we have good relationships with), I talked about our wishes to have wooden toys or other toys that the kids play with, rather than watch do something. I signed everyone up for Magic Cabin catalogues. I explained that I knew these toys were more expensive, but felt many fewer would be fine because of how versitile they are. They seemed to get it and dd has gotten really awesome gifts. No batteries to be found.

As far as anyone else who gives us gifts. We are just gracious. Dd plays with them a little and as soon as the initial newness wears out, they usually are given away. My MIL teaches ESL and many of her students are here for just a few years while their parents are in school, so they don't have a ton of stuff while they are here. She takes all the stuffed animals and plastic toys to school and gives them away to her students.

We are lucky that our family agrees with our toy choices. If they didn't, I guess we would just keep some favorites and give the rest away.
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Old 08-12-2006, 10:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach'smom
I was always taught that it was bad manners toask for specific gifts unless asked.

When people ask I give specific items in a variety of price ranges.

If DS gets something that is not appropriate I return it or regift it or give it to charity.

A giver has a right to give the gift they want to give. Once it is in your house you have the right to do what you want with it.

I just happen to like apples, and I am not afraid of snakes. ~Ani d.
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Old 08-13-2006, 12:33 AM
 
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This is a hard question. In my view, unless someone asks, you are at their mercy lol. If they ask, you can give them a wish list, or general aim, such as wooden toys, or general avoid, such as plastic, battery operated, annoying sounds, etc. But even still you might (probably ) won't see the results you want.

FIL was sending literally mountains of gifts at Christmas in order to have more under the tree than any other relatives (*sigh*). DH finally told him to stop sending so much junk. FIL has complied fairly well so far. But he and his wife still have a propensity toward sending annoying toys with sounds. Those get donated.
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:31 PM
 
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When I was a kid and we moved I remember between my two brothers and I we had several large garbage bags of stuff animals alone. (We weren't throwing them out either.)
I feel bad saying it but I haven't bought my 9 week old any toys yet because he has such an extended family that I knew there was going to be tons of gifts. Sure enough though they are the kind of things that I wouldn't get anyway, and he isn't to crazy about them either. Plus we live in a house that is smaller then most apartments so already the stuff animals are taking over. I don't know what it is but it seams that everytime someone comes by they bring a stuff animal which are too dangerous at the age to let him play with: . I can't afford to buy the toys I would rather see him play with when he older such as wooden blocks and what not but from the things that I have already recieved I can see a mattern of more plastic, battery powered things and of course stuff animals. Ironicly in all of the things that my son has right now he really only enjoys a wooden spoon that I let him have. It is light enough for him to hold and he like the texture more so then the plastic items that he has.
I think though that what I don't want around for the next baby I will give away once he grows out of it. I feel totally comfortable asking my side of the family for specific things partly because they agree with me about the wooden toys over plastic and of course my mom know all about too many stuff animals. And for his father's side I guess the only thing I can do is to say thank you and try to find room for it.
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:45 PM
 
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I'm very lucky, in that MIL never gives toys to the boys that she hasnt either asked me if it was okay or asked me what to get them. She will ask me what she can get them for Birthdays Christmas etc. and I will send her the website and item. I do the same with my mom. Choice 2 is money. Then I can buy what I want them to have!

That said, DH's g-ma buys the cheapest Dollar Store toys for them, we thank her, and they find there way back out of the house, no hurt feelings. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it

If you feel comfortable enough and people ask, I would go specific (Under the guise you want to make sure DC doesnt get 2 of something ) Otherwise, request money and accept that you *will* still receive unwnted gifts.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:28 AM
 
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What's worked for us is making up wishlists on Amazon.com (we really only want books for DD1 at this point) and sending them out at Christmas and birthdays with a note saying "If you're interested in getting something for Autumn, these are some books she'd love."

We still get piles of cheap plastic junk from my in-laws, but they do it with good intentions (or so we think, they know darn well we tryto abstain from TV and branded characters, and yet her only birthday gifts were Disney DVDs?!) and we usually compromise. If it's something not horribly offensive (and there are a few kids toys that really do offend me!) we'll let her keep it, and in a few weeks I ask her if she'd like to give it to kids that don't have any toys. Then we take it to the donation center together so she's a part of the process. She's starting coming to me on her own with toys and saying "I don't want this anymore, let's give it to the kids without toys, please mama!"

I think like a previous poster mentioned, just remember people are buying gifts because they love your children and want to see them happy.

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Old 08-18-2006, 06:14 PM
 
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We're dealing with this situation as DS is approaching his first birthday. Along with the invitations I sent a little insert that gave loads of tidbits about where he's at including how much he weighed at birth, how much he weighs now, how many and which words he can say, what he enjoys doing. I mentioned that he enjoys playing with wood and cloth toys as well as books so that I could give friends and family ideas for gifts without telling them what to buy or what not to buy.

If anything is given that is not "approved" we're donating it to charity.

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Old 08-18-2006, 11:59 PM
 
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My husband and I both keep a "wish list" throughout the year and we add to it as we find something that we would like. Then, if someone asks for a birthday/holiday, we can pull from that list.

However, some people don't ask and I don't think it's right to give them ideas if they don't. What I do is I make a point of emphasizing the gifts they've given me that I really like. I might say, "I'm so excited to read that book you gave me for Christmas!" A couple weeks later after I've read the book I make a point to let them know how much I enjoyed the book. Sometimes people will ask my DH instead of me, so I make sure when we're in stores around the holidays that I point out to DH things I really like.

Works well for me, but everyone has their own way.

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Old 08-19-2006, 12:58 AM
 
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I agree with Zach's Mom.

I think it's very handy to have some ideas on hand in case relatives ask, but really, a gift is a gift. It's not something that can or should be controlled by a third party (the parents). Choosing a gift for a child is a joyful experience for a lot of people, and it can really take the fun out of it if relatives feel like they are just doing your shopping for you.

I know my in-laws have a way different idea of what is a good toy for my child, but I don't feel very gracious about trying to direct their gift-buying. It is an expression of caring on their part and I see the thoughtfulness that *they* put into it (for example: "I remember how much he enjoyed watching the train go by so I knew he would like this plastic Micky Mouse train that lights up and plays a song," )

Also, many times the gift that I NEVER would have chosen is something that ds just adores. And having very gently used toys for donation purposes can be a plus too. It might make some other mother's day to find a showroom-quality Dancing Elmo at the thrift store.

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Old 08-19-2006, 08:28 PM
 
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My mom is very problematic - she buys gifts not only for birthdays and christmas but whenever she sees something 'cute' for the kids. Unfortunately what meets her criteria for purchase is usually 'cute' & 'cheap'. Sigh. I just smile and nod because as several PP said, a gift is a gift and I just take it in the spirit its given and let them play with it for a while and get rid of it when its out of sight. (okay, so right now 'get rid of it' has only gone so far as the basement)

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Old 08-24-2006, 01:36 AM
 
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For ds's 1st bday last year we made a little note at the bottom of the invite: "Gifts not necessary. If you must, please, no plastic, battery operated or character toys."
He'll be two in Sept. and we'll do the same thing. Although not 100% effective, everyone at least got the idea and he's gotten some very nice and thoughtful gifts bc of it.
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:06 AM
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We don't completely follow through with this, but our general rule is that if someone buys a toy for our child that is plastic and/or battery operated, we leave it at their house. Then he can play with it when he visits. Sometimes we chicken out and bring it home, then donate it though.
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:26 AM
 
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I have this same problem, especially with my dad's side of the family at christmas - 2-3 big plastic toys for each kid from each of 4 aunts/cousins, you do the math, that's a lot of crap! One family is good about asking for ideas and sticking to those suggestions, as is my dad, but the rest don't ask for ideas, so I don't offer. I did request that this year we set up some sort of drawing names or yankee exchange for the kids so they all don't get piles of stuff from everyone, just one family giving to each kid, so if we get junk at least it will be less junk.

We had great success with requesting books only for birthday gifts - right on the invitation we said dc has more clothes and toys than we can handle, books only please.

I have also gotten over my unwillingness to return or sell things we receive that we don't want. My dd got a hideous baby doll in the mail for her bday and I didn't even take it out of the box - it went directly to the thirft store without anyone seeing it. Of course, it's harder if you're in a situation where the kids are old enough to open the gifts themselves, then they are convinced they *love* everything they get.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:53 PM
 
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We have this problem but I can totally see both sides. It's hard.

I got a birthday invitation recently. In it the birthday girl (early 20's) said 'if we wanted to bring gifts' and then there was a shopping list of things she wanted. It *really* turned me off just the way it was written. I can see how coming out and asking for a gift is seen as tacky.

But on the other hand, we also have the problem with people buying each kid multiple gifts. Christmas is overwhelming. Many people in my family believe that quantity is better than quality. Two people (not even related to each other) shop at the dollar store and give the kids bags full of toys. Almost everyone else gives the kids a minimum of 2 toys each (usually more).

Recently I emailed my mom asking if she'd get Bridget tickets to a play for her birthday. I know it's tacky to ask but I figured it was my mom, right? She didn't email back. I emailed again and she still didn't email back. Fine, so maybe I was rude, I don't know. All I know is that Bridget really wants to see this play and it will not just be a great clutter-free gift, it will be a great Gift. Period. There are two plays she wants to see and I can't afford both so I guess I'll have to pick one.

I keep a list of ideas for the kids and for awhile I was thrilled every time someone asked me for a suggestion. I've realized it doesn't matter though. For the most part, when people ask for suggestions, they don't get the things I suggest. I'm not sure why they even ask

I have no good advice, just commiseration.
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Old 08-24-2006, 07:18 PM
 
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I read about a family with multiples, twins or triplets, don't recall. The extended famlies were gaga over the children, of course. The parents were able to steer the various members who they knew would be buying something, grandparents, steps, aunts & uncles to contribute the same amount of $$ they would have spent & used it to buy one of those big outdoor wooden climbing activity sets. I think it is wonderful when you give gifts that are in for the long haul & have many years of play activity in them. A big sandbox is another great outdoor toy that gives continuous enjoyment for years on end.
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Old 08-24-2006, 07:26 PM
 
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My ds just celebrated his 6th b day and one of my sisters did not come. This is the sister with a serious compulsive shopping habit and hoarding tendencies. She often shows up with several random gifts with bunches of pieces...well, this year it was such a pleasure to wake up the day after the party and NOT have the floor cluttered with random toys. Instaed we have a few Lego sets already being built and a Playmobil set. I really noticed the difference.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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