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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Giving Only Three Gifts for Christmas

This post was originally published on December 24, 2012, and has been updated to share once more during the holiday season.

The family tradition I remember the most growing up was opening one small gift on Christmas Eve.  My brothers and I would be SO excited about this and would go crazy tearing that gift open only to find something simple like socks or a pajama set just to work our nerves :)!  It was still so much fun and something I'll always remember about Christmas with my mom.

As I got older, I found that I didn't quite like the gift-giving part. I'm sure I sound like the Grinch right now or you're probably thinking "yeah, right"...but I came to understand that my mother sacrificed a lot during this time of year to make sure we received everything we wanted for Christmas. I'll always be so thankful for that but I wish I could go back and tell her that it was the time together, the cookie baking, the laughing and "cutting up" that meant so much more...it's actually why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (no gifts involved).

I wonder how many other families go / went through this sort of thing every year.  Instead of focusing on what Christmas is really about, we focus on the gift giving part, making sure we get everything on each list.  Oftentimes, we spend money we don't have, or spend just to spend because it's "that time of the year".

Now that we have a child of our own, we wanted to start our own tradition and do something that would keep with the spirit of Christmas but would also keep us from getting carried away since we, of course, want, intend and strive to give our child(ren) the world!

ALSO READ:  Simple, Cute & Inexpensive Gifts for Your Child's Teacher(s)

So for Christmas this year, and every year, our child(ren) will get THREE GIFTS...just like Jesus!

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:1-12, NIV)

Now, they won't be getting gold or anything of that caliber; they aren't Jesus, after all!  But they will get three great, heartfelt gifts.  We'll attempt to get them: 

Something for FUN
Something to LEARN and
Something that they NEED.

We've found that sticking to that particular list isn't always easy but we'll still get only three gifts, even if all three gifts are in the "something fun" category.  It's just that simple!  

Do you think our child(ren) will be missing out on getting everything their hearts desire like all the other kids on Christmas? I'm certain they won't.  Our goal is to strive to provide throughout the year so that we don't get to this point (Christmas) and feel that we have to overload them with gifts just because that is what's expected.

Overall, I really just want Christmas to be about SO much more than gift giving for my little family. I'd like for it to actually be about Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:1-20, as well as giving to people that are in need, spending time with family / friends and just loving one another!  

Who knows, a few years from now we may look back on this and think that it's silly or just isn't working for us.  But for now we're going to run with it!  *Special thanks to the best sister (in-law) ever who introduced me to this neat idea!*

Happy Holidays,

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15 comments

  1. You must have been reading my mind w/ the 3 gifts thing. My coworkers and I were talking about what everybody was getting for their kids and one of my coworkers pulled out her 16 year old daughters Christmas list. It was ridiculous!! The list was front and back! She was trying to figure out how she was going to get her all the stuff on her list. One of my other coworkers told us that her personal trainer gets her children only 3 gifts each, for the same reasons you discussed, and I thought it was the best idea ever!! After all it is Jesus' birthday!! I totally agree with your reasoning because as a parent you strive to do the best for ypur child year round...not shower them with a whole bunch of gifts at the end of year that will probably be who knows where 3 months from now (especially at Maddie's age). It will become expected each year and the gifts will become grander and grander...BUT this way you are at least approaching Christmas from the heart...and the times you share will definitely be the things that are remembered the most!! I can only remember a handful of toys I got from my childhood, but the times were the best!! I love this idea and plan on doing the same for mine!! Go Nicole & Mario!!

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  2. Love the idea! We've actually been talking about doing this, especially because we want to keep Christmas as far as gifts and Santa on the back burner and keep the light shining on Christ.

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  3. We celebrated Christmas yesterday, and I did the same thing. Everyone received three gifts. It was an easy way to keep the materialism in check. Christ's gifts are most important.

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  4. Nicole, this is EXACTLY what we are doing. Exactly! I'm so worried that our kids aren't going to be grateful for what they have...so I think this kinda puts this in perspective.

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  5. I have a tendency to over give to my children and they just open gifts and toss them to the side. You're right- I need to reconsider that quantity shouldn't be the focus.

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    1. Exactly, Amy! Children do want things, but they don't want/need nearly as much as we think. I've found that my three year is usually very content with just one or two nice items. Give the three gift idea a try...you might be surprised at how well your children respond to it and how much easier it is on you as well!

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  6. Nicole! We are doing the exact same thing. 3 items! This is the first time feeling like our kids are actually okay with it. This is the first year we're sitting down to make a "giving" list. This is where we write down three people that God has placed on our hearts to give to. We go shopping with them, they have total control over what they choose. I can honestly say that it's changed my 13 year olds life. I can see a huge difference in him. Thanks for sharing this, it's always a pleasure to read your message/blog.

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    1. I'm hoping as my child(ren) get older they'll understand and appreciate it as well. At Maddie's age (3) she's happy getting one gift so it's not too significant at the moment. I definitely plan to expand upon this as you're doing the older they get and would like to incorporate some type of giving on their part as well. It's so important to teach our children these type of values early-on! I so appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment. Thank you!

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  7. I love this, I'm an over-buyer for sure but I don't want my children to love the holidays because of gifts, I want them to enjoy all of the other wonderful and magical things that make up this season.
    Confessions of a Frumpy Mommy

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    1. My thoughts, exactly! I love to shop as well, but I don't want it to be a habit or an expectation for my children (especially during the holidays). So far this approach has worked well for us!

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  8. This is such an awesome idea! I wish I had thought about this when my daughter was growing up. Since this article was written in 2012, are you all still keeping up with this tradition?

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    1. Certainly, Daria! We explained to our 3yo in early November that she could chose three things for Christmas. She listed out several of course and I had her narrow them down to what she really, really wanted. Those things were purchased by the end of that month so I'm done Christmas shopping. We don't buy gifts for family/friends. I send out Christmas cards only with a handwritten, heartfelt message and my husband and I never want anything since we buy things when we want them so we don't exchange gifts for Christmas...just a few stocking stuffers!

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  9. I love this idea! I guarantee they will be just as pleased and even more attentive to these three gifts than if they had 20

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    1. Thanks, Brittany, and you're absolutely right. The three gifts we bought last year are still being used/played with regularly to this day! When asked what she wanted this year she rattled off several things and I had her think about what she really, really wanted from that list and choose three. I feel certain that she's going to be thrilled when she's opens those three gifts this Christmas!

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  10. This is exactly what I would love to do. My husband and his family are really into Christmas gifts. Like REALLY! I'm overwhelmed by it all. Huge family, lots of fun and far too many gifts. I asked him if we could scale back for the kids since his family goes big. He shut me all the way down. Sigh. They don't do much for birthdays so I guess this is their thing.

    Beyond the gifts and the tree, Santa, lights, I too took the time to teach my daughter the real meaning of the day. Now that she's 3, she was more engaged and had a bunch of questions which I enjoyed explaining. I'll try again next year to scale back the gifts. Pray for me.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I read and cherish each and every one and do my very best to respond to all in a timely manner.

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