Toys, Toys, and More Toys

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The average American child receives 70 new toys a year. And as you’re probably well aware, more are coming soon.

An LA Times story runs through some of the options to limit the toy madness—you know, so that you have to wade through toy piles that only reach your shins, rather than the knee-high variety.

None of the options are perfect. In theory, the best gifts would be practical things that the child needs anyway—but winter coats and underwear are no fun for giver and recipient alike. On the other hand, 70 new toys a year! No wonder it’s hard for kids to appreciate gifts: When you’re swimming in an ocean of toys, you don’t notice a little more water being added into the mix.

But here’s a very interesting idea from the LA Times piece:

Perhaps the best happy medium I heard was from Kiyoko Miller, a mother of two who recently moved from an apartment building to a house. Her family brought with them five boxes filled just with toys.

“We realized we couldn’t have another party and get a bunch of toys,” she said. Instead, she asked guests of her son’s fourth birthday party to donate $10 to the swing set that he had picked out on the Internet. When four of the 16 families invited to the party showed up with gifts, Miller wasn’t annoyed. She was thrilled.

“It was very nice of them,” she said. “My son was happy he got four gifts, because he didn’t think he was going to get any. So it was a surprise for him.”

Even better, she collected $350 toward the $700 swing set, and friends and family could know they were getting her son something he would really enjoy.

Both practical and fun, right? Then again, what about next year’s birthday? It’s not like you can get another swing set.