It’s a hard candy Christmas

A guest post from Janice Simon, the Clutter Princess.  Find her at

It’s a hard candy Christmas.”

Dolly Parton, Singer
“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.”
Erma Bombeck, Humorist
If you wonder why your child’s bedroom is messy, here’s the answer. The average child has 150 toys, according to a article, and I’m certain you’ve tripped over all of them in the middle of the night.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, a friend told me how his cousin decided to take her two children to an amusement park instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The cousin read somewhere that children between the ages of 8-10 didn’t remember what they got last year for Christmas, but they do remember trips. She and her husband decided to pare down the number of Christmas presents this year and took the kids on the outing.
To test this theory, I asked my 10-year-old niece what she got for Christmas last year. Of her entire haul last year, she only remembered two things. She remembered more only after Grandma reminded her. My teen-age niece and nephew remembered most of their gifts. I suspected that if half of the items disappeared from my young niece’s room, she wouldn’t notice.
I remember listening to my parents and grandparents talk about what their holidays were like growing up. Mom and her sister each would get one or two gifts from Santa, and their parents would give them nuts, hard candy and oranges in their stockings. Can you imagine a modern day kid getting excited about receiving oranges in their stockings? Instead parents are scrambling for the Zhu Zhu Hamster, which are sold out and selling on the web for upwards of $50 to $60. The actual robotic hamster itself costs around $8 or $9. I told my niece that she would have to wait until after Christmas for one, but I’m sure by then, she’ll be onto something else.
As I surveyed my niece’s bedroom filled to the brim, I thought about a Christmas morning long ago. When I was a little girl, my siblings and I got the talk about how tough it was that year for Santa and how he didn’t have that much money. We knew things were tight in our own household so why wouldn’t Santa have it tough too? We were told not to expect that much for Christmas, and we used our aluminum table top tree. We kids didn’t realize at the time that our parents had forgone the real tree to save money, and we loved the sparkly, shiny aluminum tree. On Christmas morning, we each had about five presents under the tree, and I remember my sister and I each got a doll. We were excited and thought we had plenty of presents, and we didn’t find anything missing.
Help your children pare down before the holidays (or right after). Try these tips to help: 
  • Take out broken toys or toys no longer loved or used. As your child pulls out toys they no longer want, don’t get emotional and ask “Are you sure? Are you really, really sure?” because you have memories of it. Keep your cool.
  • Stash a keepsake toy or two (not all of them are keepsakes) in a bin. When they’re older, they can decide for themselves what they want to keep.
  • Clear out clothes the children have outgrown. Toss clothes that are stained, ripped, or discolored. The rest can be donated, taken to consignment shops, or save for a younger sibling.
  • Wipe down toys with germ-fighting cleaners and donate. When donating toys to hospitals, check their requirements. For example, children at MD Anderson Cancer Center can only receive new, packaged toys that have never been used due to immunity issues.
  • Place toys in bins and boxes. If the child is young, place a picture of what goes in the box on the front. If they can read, use a label.
  • Pare down the number of gifts your children and family receives. You may have to talk to other relatives about how many gifts they give your child.
  • For adults, think about “clutter-free” gifts such as gift certificates and cards, consumable products, memberships to museums, or movie tickets.
Gifts You Can Make
The economy has thrown us all back to simpler holiday celebrations, and that can be a good thing. If you need some ideas, check out Get Rich Slowly’s website about gifts you can make all by yourself. One of the items on this list sends you to another interesting site called “Not Martha” and shows you how to make a variety of items, including cupcakes, magnets, and knit hats. Check out the link. People are so clever!
Gifts You Can Tote
If you are hauling presents with you to relative’s houses, here are some tips from Rubbermaid. Yes, one of the tips includes putting the gifts in a plastic tote. While you’re on the site, take a look at Rubbermaid’s nifty closet and garage organizers.

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