By Erin Hanehan
When I was pregnant and preparing a registry, a friend told me, “Don’t bother registering for toys or clothes. People are just going to pick those things out for you.” She was right. Most parents don’t spend time curating a closet or toy shelf for their children because those spaces become filled with things that have been gifted to them. There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with this—receiving things from the people we love is special—but it doesn’t allow for a lot of agency in what comes into our homes and into our children’s lives.
For me, it’s important that my home reflects our family values. Things like minimalism, beauty, and an appreciation of nature are expressed through the objects on my walls, dining room table and in my son’s nursery. Tiny Earth Toys makes it easy for me to uphold those values by providing my son with high quality, developmentally significant, beautiful toys. All while participating in a circular economy that is good for my budget and the planet.
How then do you balance the objects you choose with the objects you will inevitably be gifted? I think it’s best to have an open dialogue with the important folks in your life about gifting. Here are a few things that have worked well for me and my partner ...
- Start the conversation when things feel neutral. The week before Christmas or right before your child’s birthday may not be the best time for your family to discuss gifting without hurt feelings or misunderstood expectations. Open the door when it feels right for you. I think a thoughtful email is a great place to start, but a conversation or phone call might work better for you.
- Center gratitude. Let the important folks in your life know that you appreciate their presence in your child’s life and the thoughtful gifts they’ve already given your family. Make sure it is clear that you are grateful to have them and their gifts in your life!
- Present your wishes and family values with confidence. Explain that supporting your Tiny Earth Toys subscription not only gives your child access to play things, but that it is also an articulation of your family values. As I mentioned, minimalism, beauty and nature are important to me and my family. So is sustainability and supporting local business. The products you own can reflect your family values - those that you choose and those that you are gifted! Take the time to hone in on your “why” and share this with folks buying gifts for your child. Thoughtful communication around this “why” may lead to a deeper understanding between you and your extended family, and this connection has the potential to make the objects in your child’s life even more meaningful!
- Finally, don’t steal their joy! Gifting is a love language after all. Let them know that giving gifts that they think are beautiful, meaningful and special is always on the table. Surprises are fun, for you and your child! Balancing those surprises with your values is all that you’re seeking.
- Make it easy! I have a shared digital document with a few family members where I keep a running log of my son’s current height, weight and clothing size, as well as a handful of items that he wants and a few that he needs. After making a specific ask to support our Tiny Earth Toys subscription, this list now also includes info about the toys in our current kit and a reminder of my Venmo username.
It may seem anticlimactic or nontraditional to send a child cash, but being a part of Tiny Earth Toys is all about supporting small changes with big impacts. I bet your crew can get on board with that!