It’s the Little Things (That My Kids Don’t Need Any More Of)


Who doesn’t like a free gift? ME, that’s who. Okay, I admit that sometimes freebies can be pretty awesome, but my kids get way too much of some stuff. There are certain things that always seem to pile up, and it drives me a little crazy! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I hate to complain, but I’m hoping I’m not alone here.

free items that are wasteful

Here are my top five freebies that my kids don’t need any more of:

  1. Pencils

    Pencils are cheap in bulk, can be printed with just about any design, and are supposedly useful, so I can understand why these seem to be the #1 kind of freebies that my kids bring home. They seem innocuous enough, but even if you ignore the fact that my kids already have enough free pencils to get our entire family through life, they are so cheaply made that I can’t sharpen them without the graphite breaking. Even when I can get them sharpened, the kids don’t use them more than a few minutes before I hear, “Mom, the pencil broke!” Yet I continue to sharpen them just enough to alleviate the guilt of being wasteful before I chuck it in the garbage and reach for a trusty Ticonderoga or mechanical pencil.

  2. T-Shirts

    I can see how these can be useful for activities where you need to keep kids easily recognizable, say, separating groups of kids for a week of summer camp, but do we really need a t-shirt for one-off activities? A sports night, a fun run, and even orthodontics (really?!) have all earned my kids t-shirts. I don’t feel upset about getting free clothing, but we don’t really wear them very much, and they’re not even great for donating since nobody else will want them, either. They take up space in my kids’ dressers until they’ve grown out of them, and then I feel guilty throwing perfectly good t-shirts in the garbage. Is there a better way?

  3. Coloring Books

    I’m pretty sure I don’t buy my kids coloring books. I can’t remember the last time I bought one. So I can only surmise that they are reproducing on their own. The stack of coloring books gets higher and higher until we can’t move the art cabinet-on-wheels without them all sliding off. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember the last time my kids actually colored in one.


    So bookmarks might seem the most harmless freebies. They’re small, contain lots of info (if that’s their purpose), don’t malfunction, and are useful. Because most are paper, I can usually recycle them, which is great, because eventually they all end up in the recycling bin. We only need so many bookmarks. How many different books should a person be reading at once, anyway?

  5. Balloons

    These bring the most enjoyment to my kids. Balloons are awesome! Well, for the first day, at least. Then they live on my ceiling for the next three days (latex) or three weeks (mylar). Eventually I wait until the cover of darkness (bedtime) so I can commit mass balloon murder. My kids have never noticed their balloons have suddenly gone missing. Those poor balloons. They didn’t deserve that sad fate.

What freebies does your family accumulate, and how do you deal with a house full of them?


  1. You should donate all unwanted clothing to goodwill – even stained and ripped things, because they do textile recycling. They also send clothes in bulk to third world countries. Just think, some poor kid in Africa could be wearing your kid’s orthodontist t-shirt!

  2. When I was in Haiti, I saw a kiddo wearing a Basketball camp shirt that my kiddo had participated in. It was pretty cool seeing him wearing it knowing corban had a matching one. (I know weird huh)

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