Could you give your child only 4 gifts? Want, need, wear, read

Could you limit the number of Christmas presents your children receive to just four gifts? Opening up your (brand new) smartphone on Christmas Day just to see photographs on Facebook of kids stood in front of piles of presents and a Christmas Tree, can make you feel like the magic of Christmas is being sapped away by the need to outdo other parents – subconsciously. There’s a present quantity competition going on, and we don’t want to play anymore.

The BBC ran an interesting article today looking at the trend of giving just 4 gifts. [Editor – we’re not convinced it is a trend beyond being a trend for bloggers writing articles about gift giving and searching desperately for the next big trend waggon to jump upon. Oh damn you irony]. Instead of showering your little darlings with every gift their little hearts could want, parents are reducing the swag pile down to just four presents; A gift they want, a gift they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I’m not sure whether four is the best number, whether these four options are the best categories of gift, or whether these four gift categories have simply been chosen for their ability to rhyme?

I know that in previous years our family have looked at giving the Oxfam ‘give a goat’ gifts or their equivalent – for friends and family that either have everything or would just prefer to buy their own presents – it’s a way of still showing the willing of buying something but making it a gesture of generosity and selflessness.

Other families we know operate a Secret Santa method – each person in the family buys one Christmas present for one other family member. The family member you get to buy for can be selected at random by picking names out of a hat. It keeps costs down, stops the present opening taking hours out of your Christmas day, and makes sure that you really only have to think about one key present. You can even fix the Secret Santa budget to £25 each or whatever suits your family’s budget.

Then there is always the Secret Santa Plus method – you’re still only buying for one person, but now there is a criteria for the multiple gifts you are buying. £50 budget, £25 for one present, one gift has to come from the pound shop, one has to be consumable… that sort of thing… obviously you are free to shape this method to suit your own family, their budget, and sense of humour. Depending on the creativity levels amongst your nearest and dearest this can prove to be the highlight of entertainment on Christmas Day.

Simple systems do work though – see our theory on managing your finances (third/third/third; spend, save, invest). Maybe a four gift rule would simply your Christmas shopping and make sure that your family are not overspending on each other’s Christmas presents, but instead know that every penny spent on Christmas gifts is one invested in quality and not quantity.

Read more: Want, need, wear, read: Will the ‘four gift rule’ take off? – BBC News