What’s the ‘right’ number of Christmas presents for a toddler?

December 4, 2019

What is the ‘right’ number of Christmas presents for a toddler? I think this is a really difficult question to answer. But, as I’m trying to live more sustainably these days, it’s a question I’ve been asking myself more and more. I’ve been thinking not only about the number of presents, but also the nature of them. I’m avoiding plastics and considering practical gifts and experiences, rather than toys.

I saw this rhyme (pictured below) shared by Katy of What Katy Said recently, and it summed up for me what gifting for children at Christmas should be about, really. It’s not about having a mountain of presents, many of which will be left abandoned by the end of January. It’s about providing a selection of gifts which will serve a need, rather than simply a series of wants (although the odd want is a nice thing to have, too!).

A image of text which reads:
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read
Something to do, I love you x

So what does this look like for our children? Well, at three and a half years old, M is getting easier to buy for. She has a clear range of interests, and is able to tell us about them. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to have been caught up in the consumerism of Christmas just yet, and has only requested her own copy of (affiliate link klaxon!) The Lion Inside* instead of having to borrow it from the library (so I suppose that’s the ‘something to read’ taken care of!). At twenty months old, B is a little more challenging! I’ve tried to mirror M’s gifts with an age-appropriate version for B.

We’ve chosen not to buy any ‘big’ gifts this Christmas. Simply because there isn’t anything that either of the girls need, in terms of things like bikes or scooters. I don’t feel they’re old enough to have any kind of screen-based technology. They’ve already got a play kitchen and I don’t want to fill my house with any more giant toys really!

I’ve interpreted the ‘something you want’ in this rhyme as a toy, so I’ve chosen a wooden building toy that I bought from Aldi. They often have such lovely wooden toys and M enjoys task-based activities, so I’ve chosen a little wooden Meccano-type building set for her. For B, I’ve bought a little wooden lacing set.

For ‘something you need’ I’ve bought each of the girls a Klean Kanteen water bottle with a sports cap. M currently uses a plastic water bottle for preschool, but she’s currently on her second one as the first broke. I’m trying to replace plastic items that break with alternatives made from more sustainable materials, so Klean Kanteens seemed like a good choice, as you can buy replacement lids to fit the same bottle body, as the children grow and their needs change.

I haven’t quite found a ‘something to wear’ just yet. The girls have plenty of clothes at the moment, so don’t really need much. Both seem to be lacking in knitwear, though, so I might buy them a nice jumper each. Failing that, I’ve already bought matching family pyjamas to go in their Christmas Eve boxes, so I could argue that I’ve got that one covered, anyway!

‘Something to read’ is easy as M has already requested The Lion Inside. B is really into little board books at the moment. She loves holding them in the pram or in her car seat, and asks me to read them to her, multiple times per day. I quite like the look of these (affiliate link incoming!) Gruffalo-themed board books, so I’ll probably order those. B already enjoys reading the ‘Gruff-lo’ as she calls it, so I think they’ll go down well with her.

As for something to do, I’ve been a bit naughty and bought two things for each of the girls. Firstly, they are both really into stickers at the moment. They are loving the sticker-based advent calendars that I’ve made for them, so I’ve bought them each a sticker book for Christmas. Where we’ve spent the most money, though, is on theatre tickets for the girls. M loved our trip to the theatre to see The Scarecrows’ Wedding last month, so we’ve bought tickets to see both Room on the Broom and The Tiger Who Came to Tea next year.

I like to think that experiences like these are the things the girls will remember from their childhood, rather than fancy, overpriced toys.

As for the ‘right’ number of presents, I don’t think there really is a ‘right’ answer, but I do think we need to be mindful not to go crazy during the festive season, to be kind to both our bank balance and the environment!

*Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

2 responses to “What’s the ‘right’ number of Christmas presents for a toddler?”

  1. Aline says:

    You are so right! I love this rule.
    For me it is very easy to respect it. Children don’t know the value of a present. If it was only me, they would get just one gift each (7 months and 3 years old). My problem is more the family. I have been asking them to buy only 1 item and this has not been accepted so well by my in-laws…

    • Jules says:

      This is it, it is very difficult to get the message across to some friends and family, especially where sustainability is concerned! I think grandparents like to spoil their grandchildren which is all well and good, but I think fewer presents are appreciated more.

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