Maximum Crapacity

My daughter turned nine last week, and in the throes of planning her birthday party, the biggest question was not what type of cake to get, or how many pizzas, or what to give as party favors. Rather, the biggest question was: to gift, or not to gift?


The underlying issue here is that we’ve reached a point in our house of Maximum Crapacity. That’s right. The amount of crap that my children own has hit critical mass, and I literally do not have room for a single additional item. As it is, my son’s staunch refusal to throw away anything - including broken pieces of old, unidentifiable toys - could land him a starring role on that Hoarders show on A&E, and my mother’s recent visit from Florida resulted in my daughter’s floor being absolutely overtaken with shopping bags from Justice. Seriously, I’ve reached the point where I’m ready to take a construction claw to their closets. So when it came time to make the invitations for my daughter’s party, I told her that I wanted to include a line asking for No Gifts, Please. Her response: what’s a party with no gifts? It became, naturally, a Subject Of Heated Debate.


The thing is, though, there is nothing that either of my kids need, and the things they want (laptop, Nintendo DS, Xbox Knect) they’re not going to get as birthday presents from their friends. Which brings me back to the crap issue. Now, I’m not saying that all birthday presents are crap, or that the things people give aren’t lovely and thoughtful and appreciated. They are. It’s just that my daughter doesn’t need any of it. She has enough clothes to fill every closet in my house. If she grew thirty new heads, she still wouldn’t be able to wear all of the Claire’s earrings she has in this lifetime. She has unread books piled ten deep on her nightstand. They would need to change the Top 40 to the Top 1000 in order for her to find enough songs to use up the iTunes gift cards she got for Hanukkah in December. We have drawers filled with bags, scarves, hats, picture frames, potholders, lipgloss, friendship bracelets, bottle cap pins, and flip flops that she’s made herself from those Make Your Own whatever kits, and more drawers filled with the remnants of Spooky/Gross/Sticky/Sweet Science Experiments. We even have a closet where I put birthday presents that haven’t been used yet. The rule is, if they’re still in the closet by the time Christmas rolls around, I give them away to Toys For Tots. Each year, I end up giving away a lot of presents. And before you start accosting me for spoiling her, please know that ninety percent of this stuff does not come from me, but rather from the doting grandparents and great-grandparents, the aunts and uncles, and the birthday presents from friends.



Risa, you are certainly not the only household at maximum crapacity. We try to give things away and still end up full. I have always been torn but the no gifts decision. I think it is so important for kids to learn to give. When we shop for a gift, it is a good opportunity to teach them to think of someone else. We reserve these trips just for shopping for the gift and they are not to ask for anything. (well, they might ask...) My daughter goes to a small school and it is customary for all the girls in the grade to be invited to the parties. This year, one of the girls asked for donations to the humane society. My daughter actually asked to do the same for her birthday this summer. I think she knows she will still get presents from family but was pretty glad she made the choice on her own. We will see what she thinks after the party!


Your solution sounds similar to one that a friend employed recently with her daughter.

Rather than have friends bring gifts for the birthday girl, each was asked to bring a new toy that would be donated to a local charity for kids in need. We intend to do something similar when my son turns 2 as he has so much, both new from family and hand-me-downs (often barely used) from my two nephews.

I like your suggestion as well, especially as a means to cull the excess.


This is such a tragic condition of our times. My home is also filled with junk from friends, relatives, and when I can't help myself at big box stores. The clutter drives me mad and is literally a barrier to my peace of mind. My kids are younger--4 and 1, but I'm a big fan of the "no gifts" policy. We started this way and will continue this way. Don't know what I'll do when my oldest figures out that we buy the gifts for friends' parties, but don't get them at his. Hopefully I'll have a less cluttered mind to think of something really good.


My daughter is only 4 and this year she had her first birthday party with her friends not just the family. I put down no gifts - just donations to a food pantry. She got both - only one parent actually agreed with me and her husband and kids went and bought a present anyway. Two of the moms thought I was joking. I love my child to death but she is an only child and in my parents' case and my husband's mom the only grandchild and she is the baby of 5 granddaughters for his dad so she is very spoiled. She has way too much and it scares me what her expectations will be later in life.