Christmas has become a time of extraordinary excess, which sees a lot of people struggling to pay for Christmas gifts and food. Gift giving has lost its meaning as parents are pressured to buy the latest, most expensive must-have gadget or item of clothing. Parents feel that if they don’t spend tons of money on heaps of gifts for their kids, their kids will think they don’t love them. Parents are now under pressure to leave out a gift on Christmas Eve too! It’s time to take control of this monster, I’ll show you how to have a minimalist Christmas this year using the 4 present rule.
What is the 4 present rule?
The four gift rule is where you pledge to stick to giving your children just four gifts each. Sounds mean right? Not so, you choose one thing from each of these four categories
1. Something they want
2. Something they need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read
Fabulous eh? At last there is a rule for gift giving and I like rules! Gone are the days of randomly filling up your shopping trolly full of useless stocking fillers, just to make up the numbers underneath the Christmas tree!
How the 4 present rule works
Let’s use a 12-year-old girl Lilly, as an example for the 4 present rule.
Lilly usually asks her mum for a few things for Christmas. Lilly’s mum normally bought her one thing she asked for but also decided to buy her lots of other cheap rubbish that she doesn’t need or want, just so that she’s got lots of presents to open under the tree. Her mum decided to go for the wow factor when buying presents rather than getting Lilly what she had asked for.
On Christmas morning Lilly opened her presents with excitement, which soon wore off after the first couple of presents. She soon felt overwhelmed with the excess gifts even though she had piles of gifts. She was also left wondering why she didn’t get the slime making kit she’d asked for. Lilly’s mum felt a twang of sadness that her daughter could be so ungrateful for all the gifts she had received.
The unwanted low- quality gifts sat unused in Lilly’s bedroom, until next Christmas when she was asked to declutter her room to make way for new Christmas presents. A snippy comment was made by Lilly’s mum about how she has never played with half her toys! The unused, unwanted gifts got sent to the charity shop.
Do you see where
So, this year Lilly’s mum is going to stick to the 4 present rule for all the family, and this is how she’s going to do it!
Stick to the 4 present rule
How to follow the four present rule
- Give your child something they want.
This year Lilly has asked for an iPad. It’s an expensive gift but is within the budget Lilly’s mum has set for the family. Lilly has done really well at school and has passed all her SATS with flying colours, so Lilly’s mum decides she can have the iPad.
- Give your child something they need
Lilly needed some new stationery, so her mum bought her a fancy set of fun smelly pens, pencils and Sharpies.
- Give your child something to wear.
Lilly had asked for the latest tracksuit for Christmas, so her mum decided to that it was perfect for the something to wear category.
- Give your child something to read.
Lilly was desperate for the new Fantastic Beasts books so Lilly’s mum bought her the hardback books.
- Be mindful about the gifts you give.
Try to make each gift you give, something you know your child will love and enjoy. Get them to write out a letter to Santa using my 4 gift rule Christmas printable, so you can get them something they have asked for!
Using Lilly as an example we can see that Lilly has got some fabulous presents, each present is something that she has asked for, is a quality item and will be loved and used.
Although Lilly only has four gifts to unwrap, she will be more than thrilled with what she receives because they are all gifts that she wants!
If you are struggling with the concept of the 4 gift rule remember that your child will probably still have many more gifts to open from friends and family members, they’re not missing out, especially when they are receiving something they truly want!
The benefits of the 4 present rule
- Using this method helps you to stay within your Christmas budget. You are not spending an excess on kid’s Christmas presents.
a 4gifts for Christmas rule, helps you to curb your spending on unnecessary Christmas gifts.
- There are no unwanted gifts. The four gift rule leaves no room for buying any unwanted Christmas gifts for kids. Everything is wanted, needed and will be used.
- Shopping for kids Christmas gifts is so much simpler you can write down your minimalist Christmas list before you go out, whizz around the shops and you’re done! No more wandering around with your shopping cart, wondering what to get the kids for Christmas and buying loads of cheap nasty stocking fillers in the last minute panic!
- Stops impulse purchasing sticking to your minimalist Christmas list helps you avoid impulse purchases. I very often find that packaged gifts have very few items in and are extraordinarily over-priced. This often led to me picking out a gift for my mum then realising that it looked as if I’d not spent much, as the gift package often contained smaller sizes of the perfume or beauty product than usual. So, I ended up adding to the gift with another expensive gift package. If I had only bought my mum something she’d asked for, even if it wasn’t in a fancy gift package then she would have got more of what she wanted and I would have spent less!
- Less wrapping! You don’t need to spend a day under mountains of wrapping paper, wrapping huge amounts of unwanted gifts!
- Kids get less overwhelmed having heaps of presents to open is overwhelming for an adult let alone a three-year-old, kids don’t need excess. Think of things to get for Christmas that your kids will love and appreciate. Try to buy quality items and fewer badly made, poorer quality gifts. Having a minimalist Christmas list and following the 4 present rule will help your children appreciate everything they receive and will give them space and time to play with their toys.
Let’s look at another want need wear read
Billy wanted a new bike, so that was the perfect Christmas gift for a chil with plenty of energy to burn off!
Billy was a very active child who needed to burn off energy all day long, he loved being outside and loved climbing
So Billy got a climbing frame for the back garden. It was the perfect gift for Billy as he needed to be active and his parents were trying to reduce screen time and encourage him to play outside.
Billy was a snuggly kid who loved getting
Billy’s mum decided to get him some pyjamas that doubled up as dressing up clothes. She found a fabulous selection of dressing up pyjamas, they had knights, doctors, policemen outfits all perfect for the active adventure loving kid. This gift was perfect because Billy received a few sets of new pyjamas and also a few sets of dressing up clothes as a bonus, but at no extra cost to the minimalist budget! These pyjamas will be worn over and over again and are ok to wear to the shops or while sitting waiting for a sibling at a sports club, without looking out of place.
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Billy was a great Harry Potter fan and a fabulous reader, so Billy’s mum decided to buy him the illustrated version of the Harry Potter books to read before bed. The perfect gift for any Harry Potter fan and one which will be read for years and years and can be passed on to other family members.
How to add a twist to the 4 gift rule
Make it the five gift rule
The five gift rule is exactly the same as the 4 gift rule, but you add another category, where you give a homemade gift. This is quite a nice addition because it shows some extra thought for Christmas gifts for kids, but doesn’t eat into the minimalist Christmas budget! It is also a great one to get kids to help with, for
Try the 3 Christmas gift rule
This is based on the three gifts given to Jesus by the three wise men
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Gold symbolises something that is precious, so this would mean something the child feels is precious to them.
Frankincense symbolises something spiritual, often parents would choose a bible or something similar
and Myrrh symbolises something for the body, so most parents would choose something to wear for this category.
The three gift rule is pretty similar to the four gift rule but the focus is more on the religious aspect of gift giving.
7 gifts for Christmas rule
Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read
Something to eat
and one more thing!
So again, this is pretty much the same as the 4 gift Christmas and five gift rule but with two extras, something to eat and one more thing!
I quite like the idea of adding a gift to share, such as chocolates or a board game. You can tweak the 4 present rule to suit you and your minimalist Christmas budget!
These ideas are also great Christmas gift rules for couples as it helps keep the cost of Chrismas down, especially if you are thinking of starting a family or are saving for a house.
How to tell older kids about the 4 gift rule
Talk to your older kids and explain that the gift they will be receiving will be given with a lot of love and thought. Encourage them to be mindful about excess and waste, and encourage them to be grateful for what they do have. Encourage them to do a reverse advent calendar for a local food bank and make it their responsibility to purchase the items and drop off at the local charity. Encourage them to box up their old toys and drop them off at local woman’s refuge for those children who will not be spending Christmas at home this year. There are many ways you can open your child’s eyes to the gift of giving rather than receiving. My daughter has decided to do a reverse advent calendar for the animal shelter this year.
Four gift rule for Christmas printable
5 gift rule Christmas printable
7 gift rule Christmas printable
If you are struggling to pay for kids gifts for Christmas this year, read this post about setting up a Christmas budget and this post which is full of tips to have a debt-free Christmas and ideas for getting meaningful C
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Do you struggle to know what to get kids for Christmas? Would the four gift rule work for you? Let us know what you think of the 4 present rule in the comments below!
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