The 4 Gift Rule & Why it Works for Us – Ellison Made

The 4 Gift Rule & Why it Works for Us

Now that the holidays are behind us and the new year is here, I wanted to share a little bit about how we "do Christmas" in our home. 

About 3 years ago, we decided to get intentional in how we gave gifts to our children at Christmastime by implementing the 4 gift rule. It has worked wonderfully for our family and I'll share the reasons why below. But first, here is what our 4 gift "rule" looks like.

    We also do stockings and those are filled with various trinkets & small treats - nothing of significant value. I've always loved dumping out my stocking on Christmas morning and our girls do just the same! Moving on...

    1. SOMETHING THEY WANT - While we don't put a ton of emphasis on Santa during the holidays, we do include him for the holiday magic aspect. The gift that our girls "want" comes from Santa. I'll have them make a list of 2-3 things that they would like to have and then Santa puts one of those gifts under the tree. This gift is wrapped in special wrapping paper!

    2. SOMETHING THEY NEED - You may have seen the 4 Gift Rule as "Want, Need, Wear, Read", but for our family, the thing that our girls almost always need are actually things that they wear so that is why I changed "wear" to "make" for our family. Think new shoes, jackets, sporting equipment, pajamas, etc. 

    3. SOMETHING THEY MAKE - Our family is a crafty family. We love creating & making all the things. It's in our blood. So, something they "make" is a fun way to add an arts & crafts-type gift into the mix. This year, it was a slime kit, a bath bomb maker and a kid's pottery making set for our 3 girls. 

    4. SOMETHING THEY READ - You can get creative here with a fun reading game for the tablet or just leave it as simple as a good old fashioned book; anything that will help fuel your little ones love for reading.


    They were so excited for Christmas morning!

    A few reasons why I feel it works for our family and helps our kids realize the true meaning of Christmas as well as putting the focus on others. 

    1. Our kids just don't need more things. The idea of a toy being ripped open and played with for a few minutes then tossed aside as they rip into the next one has happened many times and I was tired of them just not appreciating their toys. By asking them to give me a few ideas for some things they want, they really have to think about what it is they will use/value. I don't want more things to collect in a bin or that I dust off occasionally. I want everything in my home to serve a purpose. And since moving from our first home and doing a major purge of toys, I've found that fewer items my kids have to play with, the more creative and imaginative they are with what they have. (I've also seen this play out when a preschool teacher, as well). 

    2. It puts the focus on our faith & helps us think of others. We're not anti-Santa. He's a part of our Christmas, but we try to focus on Jesus' birth and the gifts the magi brought him. So for our kids, Santa only brings them one gift, their "want" item, which to this day, has not been anything extravagant. This year it was an LOL doll, LOL pets & a PJ mask toy. 

    3. Helps maintain financial responsibility. Christmas gifts add up, y'all. Even with only 4 gifts and stocking stuffers for 3 kids, and then there are the gifts for the family, we're looking at a couple hundred dollars. I refuse to spend more than we have, get a credit card or go into debt to think that's what we have to do to make our girls' Christmas magical. And there's just other ways we'd rather spend our money...

    4. More experiences & memory making. By spending less on presents, we're able to spend money on Christmas activities and events and things that will last a lifetime. My husband and I both agree we'd rather make memories together, which can be held onto in their hearts and minds, than to spend money on more toys or things that will easily be forgotten. Think polar express train ride, a local snow slide, Christmas movie at the theatres... all things that add up, but things we'd prefer to spend our money on. 

     5. They receive many gifts from others. So. many. things. I'll leave it at that for now, haha. But if someone asks me what they can get my child, I usually respond that they need nothing OR experiences or anything that will help them grow/learn. 

    So while it may not be for everyone, I have seen the benefit of doing our Christmas gifts this way and we plan to continue for as long as we can. Now, when they ask for a cell phone, we're going to have to have a little chat.