We all know that Christmas shopping can be an absolute nightmare, especially if you’re buying presents for your kid. There stores are all packed, your wallet is drained and there’s a lot of pressure to make your kids happy. Worst of all, your kids will probably play with that hot new toy that’s been shoved in their faces through commercials for about one hot second. It’s a waste of time, energy and money.
A Gallup poll from 2013 found that the average American spends about $786 on Christmas gifts. Seriously, that’s just under what I spend on my rent. You know, my rent, what I spend money on to keep a roof (albeit tiny one) over my head. That’s just way too outrageous.
Plus, do we need to be breeding a generation of spoiled little brats? Do we want a bunch of Dudleys (Harry Potter) running around, expecting 37 gifts for the holidays? No, we certainly don’t. Instead, why don’t you give your children something that they can truly value. That’s why a lot of parents across America are switching to this new Christmas gift rule.
Many parents are finding solace this holiday season in sticking to the three-gift rule. Now, while everyone has different approaches the three-gift rule, there’s two things to take away from it. The first is that your children will learn the value of quality over quantity, and it puts the focus of Christmas back on the family. The second is that you won’t have to spend a fortune. The first is the most important, though.
The three-gift tradition was inspired by the actual birth of Jesus. Jesus received three gifts from the Wise Men on his birthday (which may or may not have been on Dec. 25). He received gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now, if three gifts are good enough for Jesus, they should be good enough for your kids.
“We decided we wanted to simplify Christmas here at our house by using the three-gift rule so that we could focus on the real reason for the season, which is the birth of Jesus, instead of ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme’ and ‘What can I put on my list?’” said Stacy Myers (pictured), a mom who has stuck to the three-gift rule since her first child was born. “It just comes down to trying to change your mindset how you view this time of year -- kind of switch it to family and your faith instead of stuff, because stuff just piles up in your house.”
A lot of parents break it down to these three rules, with mild variation. They get their kids something they want, something they need and something to read. Glennon Doyle Melton (pictured), owner of the blog Momastery.com, breaks it down this way. She also adds an extra category that instills the value of generosity in their children: A present for someone else in need.
“My kids weren’t even asking for things that they wanted. It was just whatever the commercial was that told them that they should want that thing,” Melton said. “All those gifts just end up in the donation pile or in the trash anyway. That gift rush in the morning is like a sugar rush. It’s awesome for five minutes and then it’s over.”
Myers bases her gifts on the ones the Wise Men brought to Jesus. She thinks of “gold” as something the children would treasure, like a toy. She considers Frankincense to be a spiritual gift, like something that would enrich their spirit (a book). And Myrrh, is a gift for the body, like clothing.
Lauren Greutman (pictured) is another popular mommy blogger who follows the three-gift rule, well, she changed it to four in the past few years. She breaks it down to something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they need. She also sets a certain budget on each child based on sliding scale where age is considered. Gifts for teenagers should and do cost more than a gift for a five-year-old.
“Just limiting the number of gifts given to three or four really makes me focus on choosing quality presents that convey my love without breaking my budget,” Greutman wrote on her site. She also does a bonus gift on Christmas Eve, so that they can get excited for their gifts a day early.
Greutman usually does a gift box for each member of her family. The box can contain a movie, a book, PJs and snacks that the whole family can share. This kind of gift brings the focus back to the family on Christmas Eve, making a fun family activity out of gift-giving.
After all, Christmas is a time that should be spent with the family. Who actually remembers all the toys you got from your parents from Christmas? You tend to remember the memories you made. Well, okay, you also probably remember a few toys you got and didn’t get (I never did get that Furby MOM).
Joking aside, family and faith (if you’re into that thing), should be the focus of the holidays. “When I think back to when I was a child, I don’t remember what I got for Christmas. But I remember the things that we used to do together, when we would go out and look at Christmas lights or when I would make cookies with my mom,” Myers said.
So, what do you think about the three-gift Christmas tradition? Do you think that your kids will ever forgive you if you don’t get them that super-amazing mega-awesome Hot Wheel race track (is that even cool anymore? I’m old AF)? You might want to give it a try, maybe just to be easier on your budget and have a more easy-going Christmas.