Holiday gifting should be full of joy and excitement as you watch your children open bright-colored packages tied up with bows. It’s a wonderful feeling as their faces light up with surprise and pure happiness as they open each new toy, game, bicycle, or electronic device.
But sometimes, holiday gifting can be stressful, expensive, and overwhelming as you hunt for a coveted toy or the perfect gift, overstretch the budget and try to make sure everyone gets what they want and deserve for Christmas. Setting limits for yourself and your children can help manage anxiety, cost, and expectations. Adopting the Three Gift Rule can make all the difference when it comes to keeping Christmas holiday gifting simple.
Holiday Gifting According to the Three Gift Rule
The idea of holiday gifting according to the Three Gift Rule mirrors the fact that Jesus received three gifts from the Wise Men – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Three gifts for Jesus for Christmas so three gifts for the kiddos, too.
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If you expand the Three Gift Rule to include categories it helps rein in the length of the gift list. Something You Want (a video game, a doll, a fishing pole); Something You Need (sneakers, a coat, jeans, backpack), and Something To Read (a book, a book series, a magazine subscription, a cookbook).
Another idea for holiday gifting categories would be: Something You Want, Something to Wear, Something to Do (Could be a trip to the zoo, mini-golf, bowling… be creative with your parameters for your children’s wish list based on your budget and what you actually want to do.)
Why Holiday Gifting Just Three Gifts Alleviates Stress
Following the Three Gift Rule forces children of any age to think about what they really want and need when making a Christmas list rather than circling everything in the toy catalog like we used to do. Shopping for just three gifts for each child makes the task less daunting for parents. When children request an item they need as a Christmas gift, be it new school shoes or a coat, it teaches them to really evaluate their needs. They seem to appreciate it more.
Holiday gifting can be much simpler when shopping for just three gifts. It is easier to follow a budget and easier to know when holiday shopping is finished rather than being drawn in by store sales both online and in person. It sets limits both for parents and for the children.
How to Bend Holiday Gifting Rule, While still Following the Rule
So, of course, it is up to you and your family budget to decide how rigid to be with the Three Gift Rule. It can be simply one book, one article of clothing, and one “want.” Or, you can interpret the rule to mean one wrapped package for each category.
Each box might have a couple of items in that gifting category. Something to read might not be one book but a series of books or a couple of books about your son’s new favorite hobby. Something to wear can be a nice shirt or it could be a box with a completely new outfit or two, a pair of shoes and, of course, Christmas socks and underwear buried at the bottom of the package. And, the gift labeled – “want” – maybe your big kid wants a new phone or Ipad while your little one gets several toys or a bike. You have to decide what works for you and your family.
Oh, and don’t forget Santa! You can still follow the Three Gift Rule and Santa can fill a stocking or leave an extra gift or two under the tree. Holiday gifting according to the Three Gift Rule is all about guidelines. Be as strict or loose as what works best for your family. Perhaps, some years, money is tight so three gifts may be just that… three small gifts. And, other years, the three gifts may be boxes filled to the brim one in each category that your family chose.
Can I Start the Three Gift Rule Even Though I Have Never Done It?
Each family celebrates the holidays differently with their own traditions. But know that traditions can grow and change just like families grow and change. As children are born and children marry bringing new family members to the holiday table, traditions must grow and change, too.
Even if your children are school age, you can easily start the Three Gift Rule. It is the perfect opportunity for a teaching moment. Be direct with your children. Discuss wants vs. needs. Discuss the importance of the budget. Discuss excess. Even little children can understand if they have too many dolls or too many Legos spilling all over their room. Do they need more? Let your children know that other families celebrate differently. Teach them your family values and traditions.
Most parents who start the Three Gift Rule find that it is an easy transition. You might be surprised to see your children trying to make or work with Dad to fill gifts for you in the three categories, too. “Something You Want. Something You Need. And, Something to Read.”
Christmas is the season of giving. Make sure your season is filled with joy, not the stress of excessive shopping for holiday gifting. The Three Gift Rule keeps it simple.
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