Once you have children, you can reasonably expect that distant relatives and acquaintances who don’t give you anything for your birthday or Christmas will send your new child a toy, a stuffed animal, or something else your son or daughter doesn’t really need. You’ll be lucky to even receive clothes, because even if you suggest it, the potential gift-giver will likely think that clothes are a “boring” gift. But another boring thing is picking up your children’s toys after they played with it for five minutes, threw it on the ground, and promptly forgot about it.

Here are a few suggestions you can implement to keep the level of pointless kid’s clutter out of both your and your child’s lives and reduce unnecessary and unwanted toys.

  1. Child’s birthday party [CC License via ymimexico]

    Suggest that groups of friends or relatives go in for a gift together. You may have to push for this one, because people tend to want credit for their own gifts, even if it was just a cheap $5 toy from the grocery store. Explain how you are trying to keep clutter down, and thank them preemptively for being so thoughtful, and they will find it difficult to resist you. The added bonus is that your son or daughter will likely receive a nicer present out of the pooled funds.
  2. Enforce a “one in, one out” rule. As soon as your child is old enough to understand, explain to her the importance of not letting toys overtake her room or the whole house, and that from now on, every time she wants or receives a new toy, she has to choose one to give away to charity, too. Many children have no toys, and by giving one of hers away, she will make it possible for another little boy’s or girl’s parent to give the toy to their own child. There is more on how to break the toy addiction on
  3. Give your child gifts of experience and ask for them from friends and family. Take your child to the zoo or amusement park on his birthday, or plan something even bigger during the holidays, such as a cruise or vacation for the entire family. From loved ones, ask for pool passes or gymnastics lessons, or a gift card to the child’s favorite restaurant. The benefit of gifts of experience is that they can also provide a bonding opportunity for the whole family.

If you explain to your friends, family, and children your goal of having a clutter-free home, and that you would appreciate it if they altered their gift-giving style, we can promise that the vast majority of them will understand, and maybe even want to implement your plan into their own lives. Plus, you will create not only a much happier household for yourself, but much more loving relationships between yourself and your friends and family, as you can relax and not have to worry about how in the world you are going to fit yet another loud, plastic toy into your house.