How to reduce the amount of stuff this Christmas

Would you like to know how to reduce the amount of stuff you buy this Christmas? Do you have kids who play with the same old things? This makes it tricky to buy them anything. I actually have a child who has unopened gifts from last year! Hard to believe I know but on reflection, there was a key problem with my gift planning last year. I didn’t follow his interests.

What do I mean by following his interests? I should have focused on buying gifts which were aligned to his interests instead of ‘shopping for the sake of it’. You know what I mean – you feel guilty that they ‘don’t have enough stuff’ so your instant reaction is to rush out and buy as much as you can to fill the space under the tree.

Instead of buying weird and wonderful things which I hope are going to spark a new interest or hobby, I have sat down and thought about the key things my son loves:

  • sports – mainly rugby and football
  • the weather – he is mildly interested but enough for me to part with some cash
  • space – he loves to stand out in the freezing cold and watch the International Space Station pass overhead
  • Ninja Warrior type running, climbing and obstacles
  • cars – well Top Gear mainly and
  • gaming – but this year I am trying to avoid electronics if I can

Using these themes I am going to decide whether a present makes my list or not! I have done the same with the girls but they are much easier to buy for, the literally like anything. There is not one toy in their collection that they do not play with.

I am also going to follow our gift buying plan. I used this last year for the first time and it helped to reduce the amount of cash which left my purse and it helped to reduce the amount of stuff which the kids then had to deal with. Why is that last bit really important? It reduces the overwhelm and means they will play more, they will find tidying up easier and you will have an easier life. Everyone is a winner.

If you haven’t seen the plan you can download it here.

So today is Day Two of the shopping challenge to reduce the stuff for your kids at Christmas. If you missed all of the action from Day One you can find it here.

I have three children: an 8-year-old boy and nearly 4-year-old twins girls so I will be shopping for all three of them on the same day.

1. Buy less stuff: Reflections on Day One

How did you get on with your day one shopping mission? The category for day one is books and my challenge was to find a book for each child for around £5 which aligned to their interests. I found these bargains on Amazon. If your child loves books then buy a few, my mission is to reduce stuff for our three so I am sticking with one each. Everything arrived next day and is safely tucked away for wrapping to commence in a week.

Usborne Look Inside London – Lift the Flap Books.

Design by sharlene SMITH

My First Book of Planets.

Design by sharlene SMITH

Meteorology Activity Book

Copy of Untitled by sharlene SMITH

2. The something to wear category

Now a really crafty way you can save some money, and meet multiple categories is to cross a few categories off with one purchase. You are probably wondering what on earth I am on about?

There is a real temptation at Christmas to go crazy with seasonal clothing which only gets worn for a day or two. Yes I know it looks great and the photos are cool but it costs a small fortune. A matching set of PJ’s for a family of five would cost me about £100 minimum from a supermarket. A set from a high street shop would cost even more. That is assuming that they have 4 different sizes in stock in the first place.

Before you buy anything in this category ask yourself:

  • will this clothing be worn more than once? If you were shopping for yourself you might ask what the cost per wear is?
  • is it something they really need?
  • can I afford it?
  • am I going to buy this for them anyway in the next three months?

My kids are born at the start of Summer and the start of Winter. This means that they are due a Winter wardrobe soon (trying to see how long the eldest can get away with Forest Gump trousers). Why am I telling you this? Because I would have to spend money on Winter clothes anyway – I am not going to spend the money twice (so Christmas clothing and then more Winter clothes). I am going to buy them some Winter clothes for Christmas. It was a long one but we got there.

You can see there that I have covered the Something to Wear, and Something they Need categories. I have also spent money that I was going to spend anyway. As an added bonus I bought some personalised (non-seasonal) t-shirts from a fellow twin-mum Hummingbird by Victoria.

Happy shopping and see you for Day Three of the challenge tomorrow.

If you are looking for other budget ideas this Christmas, have a look at our Christmas on a Budget Guide.