Keeping Christmas Gifts Simple #FourGifts

Four Gifts

I have been struggling to find my joy the last few Christmases. Everywhere I turn I am just surrounded by stuff and all I see in our future is more stuff piling into our house. My kids get so many presents between all the holiday gatherings and honestly maybe 20% of them get played with. It gives me anxiety. And the last thing the holidays need is more anxiety. AmIRight??

This year when I asked my kids what they wanted for Christmas Silas couldn’t even come up with anything. Hannah listed off a few random things and Lily said she just wanted two things. I would like to think that is a result of our efforts to try and get our kids to be less consumed with things, but I think it is also because they just have too much. This just makes me sad.

Last year, we really changed the way we approached Christmas and it truly made a difference in my attitude, in my kid’s gratitude and in the general enjoyment of Christmas in our house. We limited our presents and made each gift very intentional. I know this idea isn’t revolutionary or invented by me, but I hadn’t heard of it before last year and it was a total game changer.

At Christmas each of our children gets four gifts under the tree. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

Four presents for each kid might still seem like a lot to some, but really the “want” gift is the main one and the others are much smaller. (Although as Lily nears the teen years, her wants and clothing gifts seem to be overlapping. I could not have been prouder that one of the two things she wanted for Christmas was a leather moto jacket #proudtears).

Santa brings stockings. We have asked the grandparents to all significantly cut back and/ or get “experience gifts” rather than presents. And we are doing several things to make sure we focus on others throughout the holiday season. Suddenly I can breathe again.

How does your family simplify gift giving?


  1. Nichole Kosten says:

    This is brilliant and exactly what I needed. I have been feeling like Christmas is just to overdone taking away the special moments and true meaning. Thank you so much for posting!

  2. I have thought about doing this every year since I heard about it. (Probably from Jenny, but I can give you credit if you’d like.) :) The dumb thing about me not doing it is that it’s not my CHILD who would be sad…it’s ME. I love giving gifts. But my rational, adult brain KNOWS it’s better to streamline at home so we can give more to those in actual need. Okay. Thinking more about this now… (luckily – though not surprisingly – I could totally still do this since I haven’t bought anything for her. yet..)
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…Easy Holiday Craft: No Sew Fabric WreathMy Profile

    • I mentioned this to a friend with only one kid and she felt the same way. I think it is harder when there are only four presents total under the tree. But you should totally do it since baby #2 is on the way!!

  3. We do the same thing! And this year we’re getting even crazier by trying to limit each kids’ loot to $50 total. It’s not going to be easy. I’ definitely scouring the deal sites and stretching our self-imposed tiny budget to it’s absolute limits and getting very creative. But, you know, when I think back to what we got them last year, I honestly can’t remember a thing. I’m just focusing on making sure their ‘want’ category is filled with something that they REALLY want. Quality over quanitty, right?

    We’re also trying to put a lot of attention on giving this year. We’re going to be making muffins for my grandpa’s nursing home and our local police and firefighters. Each of the kids picked an ornament off of our church’s giving tree and we’ll be making a deposit in each Salvation Army kettle we see.

    P.S. I’m back to blogging. Stop by and say hi. :)
    Ordinary Sarah recently posted…Finding My Way BackMy Profile

  4. We have done four gifts since our almost-five-year old was born. But because want and clothing are usually overlapping, we do something he wants, something he needs, something to experience, and something to read. We are Dutch, so we celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5th, my son’s birthday is the 9th, and then Christmas on the 25th. He gets four gifts for each occasion, so still a decent haul over the month, but then we’re done for the year.

    We are teaching and modeling generosity to him throughout the year by encouraging him to give–and giving him opportunities to receive–throughout the year when he gives “just because” gifts instead of feeling obligated to give because the calendar tells him to do so.
    Jen @ de Jong Dream House recently posted…The Sparkle BoxMy Profile

  5. Phoebe says:

    This is great, Jill! We do read, wear, play with, share. It’s fun to come up with just the right gifts for each kid!

  6. Amen! What gives me the most anxiety is not knowing what they’re going to get from grandparents and aunts & uncles. None of our family consults us (the parents) on what to get our kids, and I feel so ungracious asking them to cut back or to talk to me first. But I think next year, I’m just going to have to gather my wits and do it. What most important (and I sure hope my family would agree) is that we don’t end up with entitled kids.
    Erica – Let Why Lead recently posted…What I’m into – December EditionMy Profile

  7. Joyce Heffron says:

    I still have 2 children at home, one is a young adult, but I have 15 grandchildren. What does Grandma do for them that won’t cost an arm and a leg, but still will be enjoyed? I have done books, DVD’s, tshirts, games, … Any suggestions? Grandchildren range from baby – age 13. Thanks.

    • YES!! I have been encouraging the grandparents to do “experience gifts”. Maybe coupons for various “dates”. Do you have any skills you can pass down? My mom has been teaching my girls to sew. Cooking would be awesome. Or something you could do together? Pottery studio, painting class, concert?

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