How to Avoid Buying Gifts For Kids That Will Turn Into Clutter

When you are out shopping for Christmas gifts for kids, the choices can be overwhelming. There are the newest styles of clothing, the top trending toys of the season, and the most popular characters on everything!

It is easy to get sucked up into the hype and go crazy buying all the cool stuff. You want the kids you buy for to be super excited on Christmas morning. You want everything to be perfect. But what happens after the hype is over? Most of that stuff just ends up taking up space in your house or someone else’s.

The good thing is there are plenty of gift ideas that you can get for the kids in your life that they will still be excited about and that they actually need and will use, you just need to pay attention throughout the year.

When Christmas shopping for my children, I only buy items that I have previously added to my gift idea list (I also share these ideas with the people who shop for my kids). In order for something to make the cut on the list, I follow these guidelines:

Stick with toys that fit into a toy category in your home

At my house, my kids’ toys all fall into a category and are stored in station-like areas. Buying something that fits into one of your current categories ensures there is a space for the incoming item and that it will get used. As your kids get older some of the categories may be replaced. I used to have a baby toy bin but once I noticed that my youngest wasn’t using those items anymore I passed them along to friends with younger kids.

These are my current toy categories:

  • Kitchen set
  • Dolls
  • Dress up
  • Art
  • Books/puzzles/games
  • Legos/blocks/cars
  • Barbies/character figurines
  • Bathtub toys
  • Outside toys

Throughout the year I pay attention to what my kids play with. This not only helps me decide if there are items that need to be passed along or donated but it also allows me to see if there is a need for something new. If I see there is a need for something, I jot it down on my gift ideas list. My kids love playing with their kitchen set but I’ve been noticing that the way the food and dishes are stored it makes it difficult for my kids to find what they are looking for. Which results in everything being dumped on the floor (ahhhh). So for Christmas this year we bought a neat organizer with angled bins so they can see what is in each.

Picture of current play kitchen
My youngest playing kitchen. For now the food and dishes are in the bins but it won’t be long until they are dumped and scattered around the room.

Keep tabs of what clothing your kids have and need

Before the end of each season, I go through each of my girls’ clothes. It doesn’t take long because I have their clothes organized. (Tips to organize a closet) I pull out anything from the current season that is too small and add any items they are missing for upcoming seasons on their gift ideas list. After the last time I went through my kids clothes I got some perfect stocking stuffer ideas. My oldest needed a pair of snow gloves and some cartwheel shorts to wear under dresses. My middle child needed cartwheel shorts and some long sleeve dresses (she loves dresses and due to her lack of winter dresses she continues to wear her summer dresses well past summer). My youngest needed socks and underwear (yay for getting potty trained!).

Pay attention to what your kids play with when you are away from home

When my kids are playing at a friends house or at the library I pay attention to the choices they are making. A little over a year ago, I noticed my oldest daughter starting to spend more time playing with the Legos at the library. Instead of rushing out to buy her a set, I added the idea to her gift list. I gave the idea to her grandparents and she ended up getting a set for her birthday. 

Give the gift of experience

When I hear friends talk about something they’ve done with their kids that they have enjoyed I like to make note of the idea and I use it as a Christmas gift. I’ll also get ideas from driving by a place I think my kids would enjoy or looking up upcoming events. Some experience gifts that I have given to my own children or to others include:

  1. Monkey Joe’s gift card
  2. Sky Zone gift card
  3. Soccer clinic
  4. Swimming lesson
  5. Color Me Mine gift card
  6. Kids Club membership to our local minor league hockey team

Bottom line

If kids are getting whatever they want or need throughout the year, Christmas shopping can be a nightmare. But if you can save those tangible items for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas, they make great gifts.

Do you keep a gift idea list or will you consider using this idea to help you buy gifts in the future?

Picture of wrapped gifts for our girls
Gifts for our girls!

Published by Suzanne- Happily Decluttered

Hi!! My name is Suzanne and I live in central PA with my husband and three girls. I love yoga, pickleball, camping, spending time with my family, and decluttering!

2 thoughts on “How to Avoid Buying Gifts For Kids That Will Turn Into Clutter

  1. In all honesty, I buy things that are cute and educational – those are the only ‘categories’ we have. I think it is about time to start venturing out a little and buying more age appropriate toys for my toddler, but I had never thought about watching to see what she plays with outside the house. Thanks for the tip! I will also ask the daycare teachers what she plays with most over there.

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