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4 gift rule for xmas - anyone else?

(198 Posts)
xhannahx Thu 19-Oct-17 21:00:00

This year will be dh and I first as a family of 3, DD will be 10 months old. We also have another baby on the way due in April.

We have spent a fair amount of time recently discussing our feelings towards gift giving at Christmas and birthdays.

Dh and I have been a couple for nearly 11 years, and have never bought each other gifts at Christmas or birthdays, neither of us feel them to be necessary, we just like to enjoy each other's company and will often plan a short trip, nice meal etc instead.

I would like our children to grow up valuing time with family and friends on special occasions, rather than viewing them as a time they are bombarded with gifts, and therefore we are thinking about adopting the 4 gift rule:
Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read

I don't want to completely deprive them of gifts at Xmas, but find the excess a little obnoxious and it has never sat right with me.

My question is, has anyone else chosen this route? How has it worked out?

If you do do this, how do you deal with other family members? Do you ask for no gifts, 1 gift...really not sure how to approach the topic fairly for all parties but feel very strongly that Xmas should not be a time for excessive gift giving.


xhannahx Thu 19-Oct-17 21:01:35

I would add, as the children get older we do plan to gift them with a family trip of their choice instead.

SellFridges Thu 19-Oct-17 21:02:07

So, I think that’s not a bad rule for you to stick to. —although not something I would want to do— But I think it’s unreasonable to ask others to adhere to your gift guidelines.

Mumofboys89 Thu 19-Oct-17 21:09:53

I never understand how people who adhere to this actually make it work. Surely you would just end up spending more throughout the year anyway?

I don't see books and clothes as gifts unless they are special or expensive ones but I would give them in addition to regular gifts.

The something you need bit - surely they should be given this anyway?

The something you want bit - are the kids going to only ever get one toy to last the year (excluding birthday gifts)? If not and you plan to buy stuff at other times then fair enough. Although I kind of think it would just be nicer in that case to just give it at Xmas to make it more magical.

Nothing really wrong with the idea though if it works for you. I'm sure there are plenty of people who do this

AmysTiara Thu 19-Oct-17 21:10:42

So they get one thing they actually want?

lumpybumpylooloo Thu 19-Oct-17 21:10:47

Could you ask other family members to gift experiences instead of items.... So restaurant vouchers, cinema/ theatre vouchers, a zoo pass or an annual pass for National Trust? Although, maybe they would be more suitable as your children get older!

ButteredScone Thu 19-Oct-17 21:13:49

Don't really see the point of this rule at all. You are really only going to break it. And, yes, you can't impose it on other people.

xhannahx Thu 19-Oct-17 21:25:37

In regards to spending more throughout the year, for us this isn't a money saving exercise so that isn't the issue, it's not seeing the need for 10-20-30+ gifts on one day.

I regards to "only one thing they want", for me that seems very fair. What wrong with asking a child to think about the one thing they really want, rather than rattling off a mamoth list?

In regards to book and clothes not being something that should be classed as a present...don't really understand that, a book is a lovely gift, and as for the "something they need" we wouldnt be depriving them all year round of things they need, it's just a way to categorise gifts. Something they need could be a new bag for school. I personally would have valued that as a gift as a child.

I actually find it a bit baffling that so many people think that Xmas is purely about gift giving, and that everything should be a particular type of gift. I guess this is my whole problem with Christmas gifts in the first place and why we will most definitely still be doing the 4 gift rule, children should learn to value gifts given to them regardless of value or whether they "want" them.

Eilasor Thu 19-Oct-17 21:53:11

DH and I have the same 'rules' surrounding gifts as I did growing up. One 'main' gift, from us as parents opened on Christmas Eve (along with a new pair of pyjamas) and then a bag or sack of gifts of presents from family/friends opened on Christmas Day....labelled as from santa. Never anything big or expensive, we'll usually toss a couple of books in there too, unless family have given a few already.

As an adult, I receive gifts from my DC, DH and parents. And they are the only people I buy for at Christmas. Birthdays are different, I buy for everyone and anyone and never ever forget a birthday.

DH's Family have taken a liking to our way of doing things and actually do the same now mostly. It works for us. I personally don't like the 4 gift 'something to...' rule, it feels too restrictive for me and a bit twee, but if it feels like it would work for your family - go for it!

MuddlingThroughLife Thu 19-Oct-17 21:56:04

Just because some people, myself included, buy lots of gifts does not mean we don't spend lots of time together.

We've already got lots planned in december:

1st - I put all christmas bedding on while kids and dh in work and school.

2nd - family tree and decoration day. We spend all morning spring cleaning. Have a quick bite then do the decs. Then we have a picky tea on the floor while watching factor.

3rd - Santa visit for ds (the only one who believes).

9th - christmas nights at St Fagans (a local open air museum).

11th - ds christmas carol concert.

15th - friends coming round for a Christmas party with their three kids.

18th - me, dh and ds off to London with Dreams & Wishes (an amazing charity that has been brilliant to ds).

24th - visit in-laws.

25th - see my family after dinner.

We also do baking, look at the lights in the area, go to winter wonderland, maybe the pictures if there's something good on, christmas movie nights.....

And the kids definitely appreciate everything they receive!

constantnc Thu 19-Oct-17 22:04:54

we don't stick rigidly to this, but we do try to be 'frugal'....partly because we are religious, partly because we don't do santa, partly because like you we don't want to have 20+ gifts on one day, and partly because our DC just don't like/enjoy it...

(we often holiday for christmas so its not about the money for us either)

the one thing they want is often a big gift eg bike, scooter,
something to read - we usually buy a box set - or book with cd rather than a single small book....(our house is filled with books so we know they will be loved and used)
something to wear - we go for popular pj's or perhaps a tracksuit they want lol
something they need often ends up being new colouring pencils/book - or playdoh, things that over the year get ruined, its always nice to get new ones - which the little ones love....
I do buy little stocking bits, keeps them occupied at 5am - usually new bath toys, an orange, 1 packet chocolate - sweets, toy car, top trump cards or similar to play in the dark!, and a little torch so they don't put the light on..

for us thats plenty - and our little ones are happy. I know lots of families who buy like this - its just not often talked about....especially on MN!

redexpat Thu 19-Oct-17 22:10:16

Yes we do this. I buy presents for my dc from dm and 2 dsis so I actually have some control. Its quite a good structure. We dont often get books because we live overseas so its v exciting. MIL is quite good at respecting our suggestions so she buys legoland passes for xmas and holiday park pases for bdays. Then there are presents from god parents and SILs so they still end up with lots of toys, but theres more of a balance.

peachy94 Thu 19-Oct-17 22:21:21

I also don't get how this works? Kids 'need' toys, playing is how they learn! If your planning on buying toys through the year surely that just makes them less grateful? If there's no reason they're receiving something and they're just getting toys whenever then they'll be forever expecting something? We only get toys at birthdays and Christmas so DS knows not to ask for something year round.

constantnc Thu 19-Oct-17 22:34:23

peachy - last xmas & birthday all aunts gave dc £ or giftcard for shop they wanted, they had a fab year buying toys as/when they fancied - they learnt patience waiting for that DVD they coveted to be released, they learnt about budgeting - and shop googling - finding out asda is £2 cheaper for that box of lego etc.......
how else do kids learn these life skills? (my hubby still hasnt!)

sooo much better than having 30+ toys on xmas day, and nothing till their birthday

scrabbler3 Thu 19-Oct-17 22:37:04

In think the four gift rule is great for adults but I'm not sure I'd apply it to under 16s.

I also dislike massive overindulgence, with a ton of stuff broken or discarded by New Year's Eve.

There's a happy medium I suppose.

constantnc Thu 19-Oct-17 22:37:48

oh - and my 4 year learnt how to pay in and withdraw money from the bank this year....valuable life skills.....
Christmas can be so much more than just one day

elevenclips Thu 19-Oct-17 22:42:49

Why do you need to make rules. Why don't you just consider each Christmas as they come. Your baby is 10mo. One or two wrapped things will do. Or none - s/he won't know it's Christmas!

Belleoftheball8 Thu 19-Oct-17 22:44:46

I didn’t get a lot of presents growing up for my birthday and Christmas especially as my birthday was two weeks after Christmas often or not it was clothing and the odd toy I didn’t tend to get a lot of clothes throughout the year, when younger it was second hand. I hated it. Especially when friends got considerably more, I was teased on occasion for it. I therefore make sure they get everything I didn’t get and I love seeing my dcs faces on Christmas morning and their joy on their birthdays they are greatduk for what they get . Everyone is completely different though!

NoMapOfMyHead Thu 19-Oct-17 22:51:41

I agree with eleven she's 10months old ffs, you buy her nothing and she wont give a shit.

Just take each year as it comes

2SugarsLoadsofMilk Thu 19-Oct-17 23:56:32

I personally wouldn't do this, one gift they want? Don't get me wrong I don't spend 100's and my dc don't have piles of gifts either but come on? Even if you were buying toys throughout the year the whole excitement of Xmas day for children is going downstairs and opening all your presents, I'm not saying spoil them rotten but I think that "rule" is a bit tight.

A school bag for a present? Really?

KC225 Fri 20-Oct-17 01:00:14

I think there is something quite 'worthy' about people who declare a no gift/limited gift rule because 'its about the true meaning of Christmas'. Do you not think the people on this board have been thinking about their families when choosing gifts.

Gifts are a personal choice and the quantity or lack of does not make it more meaningful. I am on a limited budget but love choosing thoughtful gifts. For my 7 months twins first Christmas they got 3 for 2 baby toys 1 each and 1 to share on my BOOTS points. Cost me nothing.

Nowadays, my children get one main present and three smaller surprises for around 10 pounds each plus a stocking. They have one cousin and two grandmothers on pensions. Their gift haul is plenty but certainly not excessive. We were talking about Christmas the other day and I asked them aside from presents what do you like DS said the Christmas CD (Now that's what I call Christmas which is played the car and in the house for the entire month of December) and DD replied the tree of course and making the cats a Christmas box (homemade cardboard house,decorated and sprinkled with cosmic cat).

Wallywobbles Fri 20-Oct-17 04:32:00

The book element wouldn’t work for every child I think. A child that is a voracious reader would have finished the book before the day is over. I had one in my stocking and I wasn’t allowed out of bed until I’d finished it. Always done by 7am.

DD1 would happily read a whole series in accouplé of days.

mumprocrastinating Fri 20-Oct-17 04:44:00

My MIL’s rule was:
Something to eat
Something to wear
Something to read
Something to play with

It was a very successful rule! As her grandchildren got older, something to play with evolved into things like tickets to the cinema.

xhannahx Fri 20-Oct-17 06:30:24

I haven't suggested that those who gift lots of gifts don't also do family time, this is just the way we want to approach it.
I also don't believe there is anything "worthy" about this approach. If your children still value family time over gifts, despite being given hoards of them, then 4 gifts or 40 gifts really shouldn't make a difference should it?

In regards to those that don't think this will work because it's too restrictive, obviously there will be flexibility which I presumed would be obvious but clearly not. If DD grows up not to enjoy reading, obviously the something to read gift would be changed to something appropriate for her.

As for my 10 month old not needing anything "because she is 10 months old ffs"...she actually isn't getting anything, I simply didn't mention this as I knew I would be flamed. She also won't be getting anything for her birthday this year other than time with her family and little friends...throw the worst mum in the world trophy this way!

Quite clearly, mn is not as open to this idea as the majority of friends and people I socialize with are. That's fine, I'm not critising anyone who decides that they do want a gift giving extravaganza, it's just not for us, and 4 gifts is plenty in my opinion.

FluffyMcCloud Fri 20-Oct-17 06:40:33

We do this. It's wildly disliked on MN - it's been discussed before a few times. But we have followed this rule for years, it works for us. However, it's a family thing and we don't impose it on others.

They get a stocking from Santa which is a few small fun things, some chocolate, etc. Then we each (me, DH, the kids) each get 4 gifts. We are creative with the use of the rules (they like everything they get! Last year "need" for one of my children was an electric keyboard which he needed to practise piano. It was his favourite gift all xmas)

It helps us manage expectations and also negates the brothers buying for sisters etc - we can't afford all the combinations of gift buying! Win 3 children it could end up crazy even with a few quid per gift (each child receiving off 2 siblings, each parent receiving off 3 kids, that's a lot of presents to fund)

As I say, this never goes down well on MN but it works beautifully for us. Puts healthy limits on Christmas, helps me plan my spending, etc.

Grandparents, uncles, cousins and friends are free to buy what they like though!

But for us the focus of Christmas isn't the presents.

My kids have never complained...

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