Why We Chose to Go With 4 Presents for Christmas

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Last Christmas was our first Christmas with a baby.  When the conversation of Christmas came up we had to decide what traditions were going to adapt as a family.  It was exciting to pick what we wanted to do.  Things I knew I didn’t want:

  • to spend a bunch of money
  • to raise spoiled children
  • to have a house full of toys

That’s when I went looking for a tradition that didn’t involve aimlessly shopping for a crap ton of toys and I found The 4 Gift Tradition.

What is the 4 gift tradition?

If you have never heard of the tradition it goes like this- each kid gets 4 presents each one falls under a specific category.

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read


I love that this tradition covers the difference between want and need.  It’s such a good lesson and I really like the idea of teaching it so young.

So this category is what you think of when you think of a Christmas present. This is the present that would be used as their “big present.’ What is that thing they have been wanting all year or would love to get.  Both of our babies are still under 2 so we picked this present for them but if you have toddlers here are some ideas of things they may want.

If you need more GREAT gift ideas visit the queen of all things tiny human toy related: Two n Tow & On the Go


This is where you can get your kids really thinking about what they need to have.

Some ideas could be:

  • equipment for a sport (new glove, a bat, skates)
  • something for school (a backpack, new organizer)
  • do they need to replace something that is broken or outdated?
  • supplies for a hobby they have (scrapbook paper, new headphones)


One of our presents to our kiddos is either a new outfit or something they can wear. This category is kinda open ended.  You can customize it for each kid or make a rule for all your kids.

Whether it’s:

  • shoes
  • new coats
  • outfits
  • something they’ve had their eye on to wear

it’s completely up to you. 


Ahhhhhh… my favorite category as an educator, books!  You can change this up for whatever age child you have.  For older kids I love the idea of having them writing down books they WANT to read.  It’s a great way to make reading fun for kids.

For smaller kids like mine, we buy them an assortment of books to start exploring. This year we opted for cloth books that both our 19 month old and 2 month old could enjoy together, were soft enough to play with around the baby, and were durable enough to last.

Here are the ones were went with. I love the idea of making reading a gift to my kids!

Over all…

Christmas is about family and tradition.  You can use this system and make it work for your family.  We do these four gifts but we also added a gift for the kids to share and we still do stockings as well.

This tradition works for us because it keeps the holidays simple.  Using the 4 gift tradition keeps Christmas about family and not JUST about gifts.  I want my kids to understand that we are not made of money and that presents are great but wants and needs are separate things.

Buying 4 presents will make each one special and Christmas morning will be more than just a free for all of wrapping paper.  My house won’t be turned into a giant toy box of toys that will be forgotten by January 1st. My hope is that this tradition will make the holidays fun, will teach my kids to appreciate what they have and will keep us from being wasteful and buying things we don’t need.

I can help you start this tradition today!  I have made a bundle of organizers on my Etsy shop which includes a letter to Santa for your little ones to fill out and ‘mail,’ to Santa!


So, what do you think, will the 4 gift tradition be something your family will do?

(4) Comments

  1. Mallory says:

    I have seen this before and I really like the idea of doing this. My husband has a son from a previous relationship, and it seems like he gets sooo many things that he doesn’t use for very long (especially video games). Our first child is due in August, and this idea for gifts for her is what I will be talking to him about.

    1. lenabiggs says:

      I’m so glad you like it. It had worked really well so far. It’s really helped us think about what they’ll use/need instead of buying out of impulse

  2. I’m definitely do this this year. As minimalist as I am about life, I still manage to go overboard with Christmas!!

    1. lenabiggs says:

      It’s so easy to go overboard but our littles won’t remember all the stuff they’ll remember the fun they had

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