Want, Need, Wear, Read; Cherish, Sale, Gift-Restriction Fail


Around this time of year, the blogosphere is overflowing with ideas about how to keep the holidays simple, keep your budget in check, and how not overextend yourself. All good things, all good things. Blowing the budget and putting pressure on yourself regarding gift-giving can be a real struggle for some people.

A few years ago, a little saying started circulating. If you want to simplify the gifting aspect of Christmas, follow the Four Gift Rule. Give your kids something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Undoubtedly, you have a friend- or seven who, with otherworldly restraint, give just four gifts to each kid during the Holiday season. This is so great. For them. I would never dream of doing this in our family.

The four gift rule doesn’t work over here for a few reasons. The first reason is this: it’s no fun. Seriously. Something you need, AND something you wear? I’m yawning just thinking about it. A new toothbrush and socks? And that makes up 50% of my Christmas gifts? No thanks. These things aren’t fun to give, or fun to receive -although truth be told, I have been secretly eyeing up the water-flossing toothbrush.

I do give staples like socks, underwear, hats, and gloves, but for me, giving necessities almost doesn’t count. Necessities fill our stockings, along with bouncy balls, activity books, and other goodies found at the Target Dollar Spot. The point is, it’s no fun to give people things they aren’t excited about receiving.

If you think I’m super selfish because I take the joy of the gift-giver (me) into account, I’d say you’re 100 percent correct. Absolutely nailed it. I selfishly enjoy seeing my kid’s faces light up because of something I picked out just for them. Whether that means they receive one “big” gift or nine “small” gifts, makes no difference to me. How much they get depends on our budget, what they like, and what sales I can find.

Which brings me to the second reason my kids will almost undoubtedly receive more than 4 presents. Sales. I don’t know what kinds of treasures I may find on sale this year, so why limit my bargain-finding excitement? Again, this reasoning revolves completely around myself and my own enjoyment. I LOVE finding a good deal, which makes Christmas shopping especially exhilarating for me. Why take that joy away from myself?

The third reason we don’t follow the Four Gift Rule is this: my kids are grateful, and don’t expect to get anything they may want. They are always thankful for what they receive on Christmas morning. My kids do not spend time making lists for Santa or talking about what they want, besides the odd comment here or there. I honestly don’t even ask them what they want. I know them well, so I know what they will enjoy.

I’m sure if we were parenting children with a strong sense of entitlement or bent toward materialism, I would pare things down quite a bit. Spoiling them a little once a year is such a joy, because they are genuinely surprised and thankful.

If steam is coming out of your ears as you are reading this, then I assure you: you are taking me and this post entirely too seriously. If you’re a four-gifter, then more power to you. You have remarkable self-restraint and I’m sure that your family adores your family tradition. This rule is not my style, which is also fine. I suspect I’m not the only one feeling like people might be over-judgmental of those of us who love to shop and give gifts. Do you remember the woman who got torn to shreds after posting a picture of her Christmas tree?

I mean yes, that’s a lot of presents. Like, a lot. But more concerning to me is the fact that this woman presumably wrapped all of these gifts herself. I don’t see a single gift bag in this picture. Someone needs to tell her there is no need to wrap every single thing, just use bags! Bundle things up and tie it with a pretty ribbon. Stick a bow on some, and call it a day!

Despite this post revolving around gifting philosophies, rest assured. I am well aware that Christmas is very much not about gifts. Celebrating the birth of Christ is the focus of my family’s Advent and Christmas Season. Everything else is extra, including how many gifts we give and receive. So whether you are a four-gifter or not, I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season. A season filled with love, joy, peace, and kindness that cannot be purchased at the store. Now those are four gifts I can get behind!