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<p>We have four kids combined, ages 8, 6, 5, 1.  They really have everything they need plus much, MUCH more.  We don't "do" big gaming consoles and we're not wealthy people, but the kids just have so much STUFF.  Every few months we sort it out and throw away or give away, but it all just accumulates and I'm just so struck by 1. all the plastic we're dumping into landfills continuously, 2. the money wasted on all of these things, and 3. the children around the world who have nothing.  </p>
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<p>Our kids are of course aware of Toys for Tots and organizations like that and we always do charitable contributions.  My daughter sent money from her piggy bank to the kids in Haiti and we try to stay abreast of world events so it's not like they are self-absorbed kids (any more than others - lol).  </p>
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<p>I guess what I'm saying is that we're probably average.  And yet I'm really struggling with Christmas this year.  Last year they all got a "bigger" gift and then 3-4 smaller ones plus a few family ones. We worked really hard to keep their presents "art-y" and/or creative or educational or imaginative or active.  And that was really fine - but then you throw in Christmas with their other parents and then grandparents plus my daughter's birthday is three days after Christmas and when it's all said and done, we're completely burned out and surrounded and overwhelmed by THINGS (even when they are wonderful and creative, they can still overwhelm).</p>
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<p>So this year we were talking about what to get the kids and we really couldn't think of a single thing they need.  Of course there is stuff they want and stuff I could rationalize getting for them, but I'm really having a hard time selling myself on the idea.  Especially in these economic times, it's hard to spend money on another Polly Pocket (or puzzle or markers or whatever) when they have all that stuff and others don't even have food.  Not to mention, we JUST got debt-free; we only live on "real" money and want to continue living within our means.</p>
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<p>If we only had the one year old, we wouldn't do presents at all.  But I don't know if we can really do that with the others.  How can we have a frank discussion with them about this?  Or maybe we don't and simply scale it all back a lot?? Anyone else feeling the same? What are you doing about it? </p>
 

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<p>What about a zoo or science center member?  Childrens' museum, art museum, trip to someplace they've always wanted to go, etc etc?</p>
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<p>I'm considering taking my oldest 2 on a train to Seattle to see the Harry Potter exhibit.  Maybe your kids always wanted to go to the water park, or a concert or whatever.  If everyone pitched in together (send a very nicely worded email about how much stuff you have and how overwhelming it is, and if everyone could contribute maybe you could build memories instead of stuff) you could do something really fun.</p>
 

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<p>Very similar situation here. We not only celebrate Xmas and Hanukah, but we have several family birthdays this month too. Not to mention the grandparents and the childless aunt who are bombarding my kids with toy catalogs and wishlist requests. I feel more and more like Scrooge with every passing year. I would like to say no gifts, or let's do Heifer International instead, but I think that would really hurt the g'parents & aunt's feelings. They are truly loving & generous people who already give a lot to charity anyway. It is a real dilemma.</p>
 
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