What to do with unwanted gifts as a Montessori parent?

Unwanted Gifts

You’ve kindly sent your Amazon wishlists to the grandparents. You’ve explained how Montessori materials work to your in laws. You have even suggested that experiences are preferred as gifts this year.

Still when the holiday passes you are bombarded with loud, flashy, noisy toys. Now what?

In my latest ‘Montessori Monday’ episode I shared the 4 Rs we use for all the unwanted gifts that make their way into our home so we aren’t left feeling guilty throwing them away! P.S. If you want to catch these shows LIVE, be sure you are a part of my FREE Facebook community – Montessori Toddlers.

If you are reading this blog post, odds are, that you are an Montessori aligned parent. There are many varying degrees of the Montessori-method! Some of you may follow the method extremely strictly. While others may pick and choose the Montessori principles that best fit your lifestyle. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, just know that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practice Montessori. We don’t all have to agree on EVERYTHING when it comes to how to practice Montessori. So just keep that in mind while reading through these suggestions. (Because, they are just that – SUGGESTIONS.)

Unwanted Gifts Do Not Equate to Ungratefulness

Having boundaries does not meant that we are not grateful! Unwanted gifts are a hot topic for all Montessori-aligned parents, this time of year. You know that your friends and family members all MEAN well when they buy these gifts. However, that is not helpful when it comes to the guilt you may feel when it comes time do recycle, regift, return, or reuse unwanted gifts. (Looking for more helpful information on setting boundaries with family members around the holidays? Head to my last blog post on that topic, here.)

If your child does receive a gift that does not align with your parenting style; Politely accept the gift then implement one of the 4 Rs of unwanted gifts.

The 4Rs of Unwanted Gifts

  1. Recycle – This can mean giving the gift to a friend or donating to a good cause. I most often find myself donating unwanted gifts because not only is a child who might not otherwise get a gift, receiving a gift, but it also makes you feel good to give back!
  2. Re-gift – Save an unwanted gift and wrap it up for another holiday. This works especially well if the gift is something that is just not age-appropriate. You could also re-gift to another friend or family member, who’s parenting style better aligns with the gift you were given.
  3. Return – Just take the gift back to the store and get something more aligned to your parenting style. We would do this with clothes that don’t fit so why not with toys that don’t fit our parenting styles?
  4. Reuse – Use an unwanted gift as a rainy day or travel toy. We do this with the majority of the unwanted gifts that my children receive. That way, my children can still enjoy the toy occasionally, but it is just not something we would place on their Montessori shelf.

Which of these 4 Rs do you find yourself using the most often? I’d love to hear in the comment section below!

Speaking of gifts, I have a gift for you! If you’re still looking for Montessori aligned gift ideas be sure to check out our FREE 2022 Holiday gift guide here. It’s full of linked and vetted Montessori aligned gifts for this holiday season!

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