Monday, December 30, 2013

The Four Gift Giving Rule

As a parent I struggle at Christmas time when it comes to making sure my kids aren't solely focused on what they get. But the holiday is so commercialized it feels like the whole world is against me in getting that message across.

I remember as a young child my mum would take me and my brother to the mall where we would pick out a new toy at the toy store to donate to charity.  We would get to wrap it ourselves and label it for the gender and age that we chose. I always picked a girl my own age and would give her something I desperately wanted myself.

Then it was back to the mall to put the wrapped gift under the big tree. It felt good. Even as a child I knew I was doing something nice for someone else. It bothered me that there were kids that wouldn't get any presents otherwise.

That tree at the mall has been gone for year. And while you can still donate unwrapped toys into a bin it's not the same. I liked the personal connection I made to my unknown friend.  I liked wrapping the present myself with great precision and care. I've put toys in the bin and so have my kids. It's not the same.

I talk a lot with my girls about what Christmas is all about. I tell them its about being with family and spending quality time together. I tell them it's not about what they get or how many toys they get but it's that someone loves them enough to get them something.

This year I asked them "Would you be sad if you didn't get any presents this year?" My 7 year old (ever the diplomat) knew the answer I wanted to hear and said "No. Because it's about being with family." But my 4 year old spoke the truth. "Sad." she said simply.

And I know that at times I definitely contribute to the commercial side of Christmas - buying way too many gifts for my girls. Because I like to give. I get great joy out of seeing them open the gifts I picked out.

Last year both of them got tired of opening presents and wanted to take a break. If that's not a sign of over buying I don't know what is.

So this year I vowed to do things differently. While browsing Pinterest I came across the 'Four Gift Giving Rule' for kids.

Found on Pinterest

My first thought was whoever came up with this is a freakin' genius! My second thought was it's possible I have already bought them too much stuff to make this work.

So I went home, sorted through the purchases I had made to date and realized this was completely do-able. I still had to secure the 'things they wanted' (as that was changing on a seemingly daily basis) but otherwise we were good to go.

I told my girls a few weeks before Christmas that this was the plan this year. I was surprised that no only did they not get upset but they both thought it was really cool. My 7 year old even told her friends about it.

I decided to wrap their gifts in the same paper for each category and label them as such:


I let them decide what order to open them in.  Not surprisingly they saved the best (their want) for the end. But to my delight they loved every gift.

The toughest one to pick a gift for was definitely the 'need' category.  In the end I decided on a workbook for each (phonics for my little one and math for my oldest) and a digital counting piggy bank so we can start talking about the meaning of money.  I figured this would be the gift they passed over the quickest but my oldest actually hugged me when she opened her math workbook (what?!?) and then actually sat down to work on it after gift opening was done.

Wearing her Gryffindor robe and doing math on Christmas Day...could she be anymore Hermione?

If that was their reaction to the "need" gift you can only imagine how excited they were by the time they got to their "want" gift. It was a sight to behold...

Bottom line is that this is a tradition that is going to stick at our house.

The kids were happy, we were happy and it gives me some limitations when it comes to shopping.

And limits are a good thing...


1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely fabulous! I hope I had heard of that 4 gift rule years ago so I could start a tradition myself... my girls are a little old to start now, being 12 and 18. However, usually those four items appear in our tree, clothing, books, and toys, the problem is the number of gifts... :S I usually get carried away. Nevermind, I'll propose and see what happens!

    Loved your post!

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