Why I’m Giving My Kids a Gently Used Christmas

I have a way of going overboard with gift giving. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. My parents did their best to stretch their dollars to get things I wanted for Christmas and birthdays. There were times I didn’t quite appreciate their sacrifices or understand the limitations, but grown up me can empathize with my parents.

Especially now that I am a parent.

Based on my past, I tend to overcompensate showing my affection with gifts. This happens not only with my kids but with friends and other family members as well. Part of it is because I am able to afford it. I don't really get into boasting about how much was spent, but I get a real thrill out of being a great gift giver. Fulfilling wishes makes my heart sing. (I also vy for providing the favorite gift.)

And a huge pile of gifts does bring out a lot of smiles.


Now at four and two years old, my kids have way too many toys. Yet, it’s hard for me to not buy them gifts. The last couple years I know I went overboard and I’m the reason they have too much stuff. (Let me tell ya, it’s been hard not to take credit for amazing Santa gifts too.)

Regardless of how much we spend on our family, we always give to those in need throughout the year as well as during the holidays. It's a way of paying it forward from assistance I received as a kid and teaches my children compassion and gratefulness.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. I can’t cancel Christmas, but I’m putting some limits on it. Actually budgeting for gifts rather than spending willy nilly as I did last year has helped reign it in. I decided not to limit the number of presents, but instead shopped consignment sales for gently used items.

Not too long ago I would never have dreamed of gifting used toys to my children. Sure, we’ve always purchased a mix of new and used toys and clothes, but never used meant for gifts. I used to think it was a little tacky until this year. My kids love being allowed to pick something out whether we’re at Target or Goodwill. It doesn’t matter to them.

Finding gently used items stretched the budget. It’s also the first year I have finished the majority of the shopping well before the holiday spending spree began. I was looking for things to tuck away throughout the year.  Though Santa will still get the credit for one or two brand new things from their wishlists.

Another bonus is not wrestling with the packaging! Once unwrapped they are ready to be played with straight away. Win-win if you ask me. I’ll also avoid the post holiday spending regret, especially if something is broken within a week. It’s not as much of a pain point when you got a great deal on something used.

Maybe next year we’ll cut back on the amount a little more or try something completely different. But for this year we’re going to have a happy and merry gently used Christmas and love it. Hopefully in the long run this will help teach my children about frugal shopping as well as put less focus on the gift giving part of the holidays.

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