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As we start getting ready for the holidays it’s can be tough to plan out exactly what you’re going to get the kids. Plus, it’s so easy for spending to get out of control! What are you supposed to do? With 5 kids I’m always looking for ways to not only save money, but also to cut back on the clutter in out home. That’s why I decided to start the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids this year.
The 4 Christmas Gift Rule For Kids
You’ve probably heard of this concept before. For Christmas, instead of giving the kids a lot of gifts, or letting them write out a super long wish list, you purchase just 4 items. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. They can suggest multiple items in each category if you want, but at the end of the day they’re only getting one gift from each.
New: Scroll to the bottom of this post for a free printable!
In our house we also do Santa gifts, so they’ll each get an extra toy and stocking filled by him. If you include those gifts that’s 25 presents under the tree just for the kids!
If we allow unrestricted shopping it can really become too much. My kids also spend half the time at their dad’s house which means they’ll basically get double the gifts.
What I love about the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids
Even if you’re not being overrun by presents in your house there’s still some amazing benefits to adopting the 4 gift rule this Christmas.
Less stuff in your house
Children, on average, have a lot more toys than they did in the past. Houses are also bigger… To hold all that stuff! It’s time to break the cycle of excess things and pare down holiday shopping.
By implementing the 4 gift rule you put restrictions on yourself so you don’t go Christmas crazy. As someone who likes to buy a lot of gifts for my kids (many that have gone unappreciated) this is really helpful. But also tough!
Intentional gift giving and list making
By asking your kids to list gifts that fit into those categories you’re basically forcing them to think a bit more deeply about what they’re asking for. For kids, Christmas seems like endless possibilities where they can get any toy they want. The truth is that most kids just want one or two things anyway, and the rest is just passing fancies.
If the kids don’t know what they want (or ask for multiple things) it also forces you to think about the gifts you’re buying. You can’t just run out and get every toy – so what will your kids actually play with?
It can fit with any budget
Something else I love about the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids is that it can scale to almost any budget. If money’s tight you can really be careful with your shopping and maybe splurge on the couple of things your kids really want. You might even be able to find some of the gifts (especially books) second hand.
Likewise, if you’re a bit of a spender on Christmas you can still go all out. You might even find that your budget gets better put to use and your kids actually appreciate what you buy more! For example, if you usually spent $500 per kid at Christmas on a bunch of little stuff you could get them a game console instead.
You get more time to spend time together
When there’s too many gifts it can definitely feel like Christmas morning goes on forever. Sometimes kids even get bored! Especially if you wrap up a lot of things they don’t really care for.
Instead, plan some Christmas day activities that can take the place of gift opening. Not only will it be more fun, it also reinforces the real meaning of Christmas for your kids.
4 Christmas gift rule for kids gift ideas
If your kids are like mine then they might not give you clear lists. My oldest famously tells me Santa will know what to bring her each year! At almost 13, I know she doesn’t believe he’s real. But it’s a Christmas tradition that lets her get surprised.
While these aren’t specific, I thought I’d put together some ideas to get you thinking about the perfect Christmas gifts for your kids.
Something they want:
Something they need:
- Something for their room
- New bedding or blanket
- Sports accessories
- Water bottle, Thermos, etc
- Suitcase or overnight bag
- Bath products or accessories
Something to wear:
- Something trendy they’ve been wanting
- Jewelry or hair accessories
- New backpack
Something to read:
- Christmas themed books
- New chapter book in their favourite series
- Graphic novels
- ‘Fan’ books about a favourite movie, show, etc
- Fun non-fiction books
- Activity Books
What counts as one gift?
This one is totally up to you! If you’re on a tight budget, for example, you might want to get your kid the first book in a series they want to read. If funds allow, you could also wrap up the boxed set. It’s still technically one gift, after all.
The same goes for toy playsets, outfits, or anything else you might be questioning. The rules are just there to make Christmas more streamlined and fun, not to be restrictive in negative ways.
Variations on the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids
Maybe you think that 4 gifts aren’t enough for your family. Or maybe you like the idea, but one of the categories doesn’t work for you. You don’t have to stick to the plan exactly! Instead, make it right for you.
Add an activity gift. Something like concert tickets or passes to a local museum. Either that the recipient really would love, or that you can do as a family.
Have a gift exchange. Alongside the 4 gifts, have the kids exchange gifts with each other.
Turn it into an activity. Make finding the gifts part of the Christmas morning with a scavenger hunt or wrap the gifts up in a super fun way.
Why you should start the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids tradition
At the end of the day, Christmas is about family time – not stuff. If you’re looking for a way to simplify your holidays this year, especially if you’re on a budget, the 4 Christmas gift rule for kids is a fun way to make Christmas morning special. Plus the kids will be aware in advance so there’s no upset about less under the tree than usual.
Free Printable 4 Christmas Gift Wish List
This free printable is a fun way for kids to make their 4 Christmas Gift rule wish list. Instead of just asking for 4 things, they can add a few to each category so you have options. Perfect for kids (like mine) who can never decide on exactly what they want. You can also use the extras on the list to pass on ideas to grandparents and other relatives who may be asking too!