Four Ways to Christmas Giving


Christmas is a time for giving. It’s also a time for spending – when retailers rub their hands with glee. Spending on Christmas presents and who to buy for often comes up for discussion around this time of year.

Of course, there are ways to reduce Christmas spending. Some people go for Kris Kringle/Secret Santa. Secret Santa can reduce the number of presents you need to buy. Plus with identities kept secret, there’s less pressure to buy the “perfect gift”. Of course with the security of a secret identity, many people go right to the novelty present which often goes straight to the ‘regifting’ pile. Secret Santa has been taken to the social media extreme in New Zealand where Secret Santa has gone viral  in 2016, courtesy of NZ Twitter and the hashtag #nzsecretsanta

We’ve decided to try something new at our house this Christmas. If you haven’t caught up with this online, there’s a movement that aims to change present giving for families. It’s based on the idea of giving just 4 gifts, instead of a plethora of plastic that will be discarded or broken by the New Year.

Image: Money Saving Sisters

Whether you agree with this idea or not, it gets people talking about what giving means for their families. Some bloggers like the Money Saving Sisters treat the 4 gifts as a money saving challenge.

The four present challenge is also supported by the minimalist argument that fewer toys will benefit your kids because it fosters creativity and resourcefulness.

But how will it work with kids to buy for? We’ve got some ideas to help your four ways to Christmas.

Something They Wear

You get the idea. Superhero costumes or pyjamas (do children grow faster at night because they always grow out of these the fastest?) are always our picks! We could give suggestions here but children will have their own list of must-have clothing.

Something They Read

Everyone in the family gets a book. Even if they can’t read it themselves!

We ALWAYS give books for holiday reading because there’s nothing better on Boxing Day than sneaking half an hour somewhere quiet for a trip into another world – whether fact or fiction. Also new picture books are perfect for the tiniest of us. “Let’s tuck you in and read your new book” can work for tired out toddlers. Here’s a list of great reads for 0-5s to choose from.

Something They Want

There can be a danger in this category that there will be requests for big ticket items. So if budget is an issue (and if you’re not Beyonce it probably is) it may be wise to have an upper limit on this category or you might end up with a request for their own island or the entire Amazon top 100 toy list. Creative thinking about the limitations of what Santa can deliver is also recommended.  If you need inspiration here are some suggestions from Parents.Com with their Best Toys of 2016

Plus – make sure you’ve done your research – come Christmas morning you don’t want these kinds of reactions!

Something They Need

Consider toys that will grow with your child.

Buying children something they need doesn’t mean toothbrushes and bandaids – although they will probably need both those things over the holiday season. Instead, it means fostering their interests, supporting their learning and encouraging active and imaginative play. It can still mean buying toys – it just means evaluating the developmental benefits of the toys you’re choosing for your child.

“A child’s ability to play is more than fun and diversion; play is critical for his or her emotional, physical, creative, and intellectual growth, and teaches everything from social skills to critical thinking. ”

— Stevanne Auerbach

The website DrToy by Stevanne Auerbach, PhD is a great resource for “practical advice on selecting the right playthings to match each child’s needs”. Also, the list of 90 Present Ideas for Kids Who Have Everything might give you some alternative ideas to consider which don’t rely on chainstore Christmas catalogs. These lists provide great suggestions for early learners. Some of the items will probably find themselves on early childhood educators’ wishlists for “something they need” in the New Year too!

When the whole family gets together the gifts multiply!

So, why not?

Maybe try it this year – you’ve got nothing to lose (and maybe something to gain). Of course, as one commenter pointed out – you can’t control what grandparents and relatives will choose to give. Which is part of the reason that using the 4 gift rule might just work. The children will still receive plenty of presents but you can be comfortable with the gift selections you have made.


Image: Jones Design Company

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