Christmases in my house are very different from the Christmases I had as a child. My grandmother, though sagacious and gimcrack in the gifts she would buy for those in her household but would shower others, everyone from close family to coworkers, with extravagant gifts that cost way too much money.
My grandmother wanted to be thought well of in the world and thought that conspicuous consumerism would be the way to go about doing so. As an adult, I didn’t know any other way, so as a newlywed, I did the same thing. Dozens of gifts and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars spent to provide gifts for in-laws, coworkers, and relatives alike.
It wasn’t until the year after I was married that when saddled with the task of paying off the debt from both my own student loans and the five-figure costs of my grandmother’s mounting medical debt, that I realized how crazy my holiday shopping had been. That first year of marriage I made sure everyone in my household was ear-deep in gifts, and the worst part? The following year, when I asked everyone what their favorite gift had been the previous Christmas, not one person could remember any of the gifts they received!
In 2006, we put a stop to the crazy holiday spending. My husband and I decided that everyone would now receive only four items each. Only four, no more, no less. Oh, and of course, a holiday stocking, which would be filled with only use-em-up items, small stocking stuffers that intentionally would be consumed or utilized before the New Year!
While I fully expected a coup d’etat to take place, I’m relieved to report that not even one complaint was uttered by anyone then or since. I’ve also found that in the years since my gift-giving revelation, that when my family receives fewer gifts then they are more grateful for the gifts they do receive, they remember each gift, and we get to spend more time together as a family in the process.
A bonus? In addition to the copious amounts of unneeded gifts we have also eliminated the hoards of wasteful, unrecyclable wrapping paper from our holiday season as well! Each family member uses the same reusable store bag annually, gifts are wrapped in zero-waste kraft paper, decorated and personalized, and on Christmas morning, everything is folded and put into the recycling bin. I love to no longer have to have the lawn and leaf trash bags ready to collect wrapping paper Christmas morning!
So this year I’m daring you to join me in the 4 Gift Christmas Challenge and to only give each member of your immediate family the following:
I think you will be surprised at how well your spouses and children will respond to this new kind of gift giving! The beauty of the 4-gift rule is that you can modify it to fit your family’s needs. As gifts can get expensive, especially with older children, buying fewer gifts is not only better for the budget but will ensure that your holiday gifts are more planned, personalized, and purposed.
These 4-gifts will really cover all your gift-giving bases, as they limit you from going over the top with spending. The best part is that this rule still allows for some nice splurging on your family, the only exception being that your indulgences are concentrated on just one or two items as opposed to say, ten. Also, remember can customize the four gift rule to your budgetary needs and particular situation.
So, what do you think? Would the 4-gift rule work for your family? Would your children revolt if you instituted the four gift rule this Christmas? Do you have a method you follow to stay within budget on your holiday spending? I’d love to hear about it below!