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When I go through the toy store or a Wal-Mart with my three year old, I know exactly what she will say.  “Oh,” she’ll squeal.   “Put THAT on my Christmas list!”  Christmas gifts for toddlers are not only fun for kids to receive, they are often fun for moms to buy (think of the educational value alone, now that’s good marketing!).

Lucy is my third toddler to experience the toy wonderland of Christmas.  I remember when our firstborn Ethan was all about Thomas the Train.  Noelle loved stuffed animals.

What toddler doesn’t want a new train, truck, stuffed animal or doll?  It’s a safe guess that the toddler in your life has a long list too.  The question is: How can parents make the Christmas gifts last more than three seconds?

How can you help your toddler enjoy and appreciate his or her new things for many days instead of five minutes of glory?  Here are a few ideas that have worked for us and our friends:

Enjoy 12 days of Christmas.  Do you have presents stacking up from grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles?  Or perhaps you’ve purchased 5 or 6 presents for junior yourself.  Try starting Christmas on December 13th and allow your toddler to open one present per day until Christmas.  This will spread out the excitement and allow your toddler to enjoy each gift.  Why just have one day of Christmas when you can have twelve?

Now many of us don’t have enough gifts piled up to begin opening on December 13.  Try opening a gift a day starting on December 20, or just open one on Christmas Eve, most gifts on Christmas day, and save one gift for New Year’s.  The idea is to spread out the Christmas cheer.

If you’re traveling, open some gifts before your trip and after.  If you’re headed to grandma’s house, the last thing you want to do is load your already packed suitcase with your toddler’s new dollhouse.  You can open your gifts at home before or afterwards.  It’s always fun to save a gift at home so when you need some incentive for your toddler to behave well during that plane ride or car ride, you’ve got something to offer.

Do something special for someone else.  Teach your toddler to give gifts to the less fortunate so he can be more grateful for the avalanche of things he will receive.  Our family packs a shoebox full of toys for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.  That shoebox will be delivered to a boy who may live in a slum in Calcutta, or an orphanage in Johannesburg.  Your toddler will remember the shoebox and begin to understand that there are many children in the world who have much less.

Re-gift!  Search for a forgotten toy around the house, something your toddler used to love playing with six months ago.  Wrap it up and give it to him again.  You’ll be amazed at how much fun he’ll have with his long lost friend or toy.

I hope this will help you spread Christmas cheer a little longer in your household.

What are some things you have done to maximize your Christmas gifts for your toddler?

In my next post, I’ll give some ways you can pass along the true meaning of Christmas to your toddler.

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