Keeping Christmas Gifts under Control

The scenario seems to be the same every year. On Christmas morning you have beaming children frolicking in a sea of gifts, wrapping paper strewn about, and excited voices proclaiming this is the best Christmas EVER. Fast forward a week or a month… and how many of those initially loved gifts have fallen to the wayside? How many have gotten broken because they were left on the floor and suffered the fate of dad’s foot. Too many is generally the answer to those questions. So how do we avoid this post Christmas gift lackluster from happening in the future?

First of all, we need to acknowledge that gifts should not be given simply for the purpose of this holiday. If the gift you are looking at is not something you would ever consider getting if it wasn’t for the pressure of Christmas, click it right out of your shopping cart. (Yes, we know you’re ordering all of your gifts online from your bed, no judgment here.) Second of all, pick a strategy. One example of a gift strategy would be to choose one large family gift and then have smaller individual gifts that all relate back to the large family gift. An example of this could be purchasing a new gaming system, and then each child gets a game for that system and video game themed pajamas.

For this, though, I will share our strategy that has helped reduce the amount of gifts we purchase (as well as the amount of money we are spending), and helped keep on task so that the gifts are truly appreciated and used. We use the 4-gift rule. Relatively self explanatory, the 4-gift rule allows exactly that – four gifts for each person. There are four categories that the gifts are pulled from:

Something you want

This is the part we all seem to focus on for Christmas gifts – what we want. By paring this down to only one gift of what we want, we can really focus on what it is that will truly bring us joy. Think about that thing that whoever you are purchasing for (kids assumingly) have been wanting all year – not just in the last week. Consider how often it will actually be used as well. This is usually where we get something for play – like a skateboard, gaming system, new bike, backyard equipment or the like.

Something you need

Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t remember their mom packing up a new pack of socks to open on Christmas morning. I won’t lie to you, I actually miss getting fresh new socks every year on a regular schedule… and sometimes buy and wrap them for myself. If socks don’t get you all excited, you can do something else that is needed. Maybe it’s a new mouse for your work-from-home setting, or replacement dishes. For kids this can look like new bedding, organization for their toys (especially if it ties in with the ‘something you want’ you got them!).

Something to wear

This is the time to update your kids’ hoodie wardrobes! It’s a great plan to go through your kids’ clothes over the beginning of winter break, and replace any gaps in their wardrobe under the tree. We often get the kids each coordinating (because apparently matching in 5th grade isn’t cool anymore) hoodies for the winter.

Something to read

This is where we as parents can truly feel like we are being great parents in a materialistic world, by gifting our children knowledge.  We do this two-fold, by having a book wrapped under the tree for the morning, as well as having a Christmas Eve book. The Christmas Eve book is for a read-a-thon with hot cocoa before bed.

These four sections exclude stocking stuffers – though we try to keep that to things we would need and are practical – like fun socks, snacks, lip balm, and homemade scratch off coupons for fun experiences (and to get out of chores) that can be used throughout the year.


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