Drowning in well-intentioned gifts that you don’t want or need? You’ll relate to Kate Lynford’s desperate cry, ‘Stop giving my kids toys!’

My son has everything. Dozens of stuffed animals, wooden puzzles, Duplo sets, blocks, annoying toys with bells and whistles, piles of musical instruments. You name it, we have it.

This stash, it’s worth a fortune and yet he never plays with any of it. He is only four months old, after all.

We purposely decided not to buy anything before he was born, trying to learn from lessons of the past. Our daughter, born five years earlier, was also accompanied with an avalanche of gifts from family, colleagues and friends. We’d drowned in stuff before and we hoped not to deal with this very first world problem again.

We had thought we would just reuse her toys and clothes. We even half-jokingly banned Christmas presents. But that did little to stem the tide. Not only did our beautiful boy inherit all his sisters hand me down toys, but we were inundated with dozens of fresh, new presents. There were bags of things other people wanted to hand down (that I would need to sort and store, I mean size 8 jeans, really?) and seemingly hundreds of new things to welcome him and wish us congratulations. His room was now chock-a-block. Bursting would be an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong, the toys are beautiful and they are very thoughtful. We appreciate the sentiment of every gift. But it’s way too much. This kid, he already has more teddy bears than I acquired in my whole lifetime – and it never stops.


As we’ve learned from our daughter, no occasion is too small these days. There’s a gift on every corner! Christmas, Easter, his baptism – we even got given a pressie the other day from a lovely lady in our bakery “just because”. While we are always touched by the kindness, there must be a point where it’s okay to say, “for love of space and sanity – enough already with the toys!” 

And that’s now.

In our disposable society, I want my kids to learn the value of things. That some things are precious and need to be looked after. How can he do that if he’s got piles of stuff? Aside, there’s nothing worse to encourage mum-guilt than a whole room full of gear people paid a fortune for, but realistically will probably end up donated in a few years to the local op shop.

So, if your reading this, how about finding a different way to say you care? Because there are plenty. Here’s seven things I’d much rather than just more toys for my kids…

7 Present Ideas That Aren't More Toys!

  • An annual membership to a museum, play center or zoo gives a year of fun and adventure. Just check first to make sure it’s one the parents don’t already have and that they can easily access.
  • Books, when well-chosen have a forever shelf life compared to cheap toys which can break within a few plays. No batteries required. No annoying noises either!
  • Hot food for the parents is another great idea. The kids won’t remember what you give them at a really young age, but you’re guaranteed the parents will. A home cooked, no fuss meal is a truly wonderful gift.
  • Movie vouchers for mums and bubs movies is a super thoughtful way to give a treat parents and their baby can enjoy together.
  • Craft materials like canvases, paint brushes and finger paints inspire creativity and keep boredom at bay.
  • Or for older children, vouchers which can be used for a cooking class, dance lessons or a kid-appropriate show teach new skills and give them some terrific memories.
  • And of course, the gift of yourself, in the form of babysitting vouchers is a true winner.
  • Bonus (mildly contentious) suggestion: It sounds ungracious but the other thing I’d always welcome is money. Forget that $50 toy, $5 in an envelope for their bank account is a great choice, costs you a fraction of the spend and means maybe a car or the beginnings of a house deposit could be ahead for my little ones.

Of course, if you’re tempted with the latest and greatest HUGE box in Target, think twice. Please! Remember it is perfectly fine to ring ask the parents what their child ACTUALLY needs.

So enough with the toys! Or I might just pass them all on to you when you have children (especially the noisy ones) and then you’ll be cursing, just like me!



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  1. If you are given clothes that are too big, at least you can put them aside to use in the future and not have to buy them later. Normally if people give clothes they give them some that fit for the first 3 months or so and won’t all be worn. I aim for around the 6 month old size. As they get older I always buy one or two sizes larger than they are currently wearing so they can grow into them. Kids do growth spurts and can be up two sizes is a short space of time, not just one….one of mine did it is 7 weeks. More often than not I do ask parents what they would like for their children.
    Parents…..prepare a list………..I hate asking and being told “I have no idea”…….then either not being told when I ask again………or until the week before.

  2. I find useful things are the best
    – a small pot with a strawberry plant
    – a diy garden bed (Don’t buy the ones specifically for kids they cost a fortune, but Bunnings has great ones for around $20 that don’t require tools to put together)
    – herbs or veggies they can plant themselves
    – homemade & personalised recipe in a jar (I have a great one if you want it)

    I have given all of these and they are loved by parents and kids alike

  3. I’d like to do this with my elderly dad. Monthly gift ideas anyone?

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