Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Keeping kids' Christmas gifts in check - the Want/Need/Wear/Read strategy

We're always pretty conscious of our budget, and we also prefer to keep our life from being thing-centred. With that in mind I thought I'd share our gifting strategy with you, in case it helps you simplify Christmas planning for your family.

Sometime last year I saw a mention of a gifting philosophy which involves each child getting four gifts; something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It's not a new thing - online references date back at least a decade, with no indication of the original source. It has gained momentum, though, and for good reason. It provides a clear framework for gift buying. resulting in largely practical gifts but still with leeway for a bit of frivolity, and enough flexibility for it to suit your family and budget. So we adopted it. Here's how it works.

Something they want

This is slightly tricky for pre-verbal kids, but at this point I reckon we're pretty well equipped to choose something the Little Monkey will enjoy playing with. This year he's getting a few different balls, because we don't have any at home and he loves them. Nothing flash but I'm pretty sure there'll be plenty of joy on Christmas Day. 

Once kids are older I think the common strategy is to get them to make a list and choose one thing off it to give them. Of course, I can see that some devious children might just put the same thing on the list over and over once they work out the strategy (cough what I would have done cough cough). I figure we've got a few years until we hit that stage, though. 

Something they need

When I was a kid we always got practical gifts as well as the fun stuff, and I reckon this is the easiest one. Backpacks for school, sandals for summer splashing, sunhats - there's always something on the shopping list that is a need but can still be wrapped up and put under the tree. And just because it's something that's needed doesn't mean it can't be fun! 

Something to wear

Many families give new PJs at Christmastime anyway; nice new threads are always good and let's face it, kids are always needing new clothes. If you don't want to buy anything extra, just wait until Christmas to give them their upgraded wardrobe and you're all set. 

We've decided that the wearable gift will always be something a bit nicer than the rough and ready day-to-day clothes - last year's was a cute screenprinted t-shirt from a local market. I'm still on the hunt this year - anybody got any great recommendations? 

Something to read

Because books are always good. I struggle to stop at one, actually.  This year he's getting this one* (which we're also giving to his cousins, so I'm not naming it in the text here in case their parents don't want to know). He was given the first book by the same author for his birthday and it is awesome.

Gifts aren't everything, but they are a fun and exciting part of Christmas, especially for kids. I like that this approach helps reign in the buy-everything trap that it's easy to fall into, while still providing variety, practicality and fun for the recipients. How do you do Christmas gifts at your place?

*Links in this article are affiliate links so if you click through and buy a book you're supporting my blog. I only ever recommend things I happily spend my own money on though! :-) 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hm - I have a feeling once upon a time we had some small children living in our house who were given presents based on that philosophy - although there was usually a 'something to make' as well [and something to eat]

    1. Perhaps not surprising that this strategy appeals, then!

  3. Wonderful post, I hadn't heard of the want/need/wear/read (/make/eat) approach but I love it!

    1. Thanks Tobias, it resonated well with us - a nice balance between making kids happy and not setting up a family culture of excess. :-)


Theme Design by Quentin de Manson Web Design