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How many gifts do you give at Christmas?


"My kids are only getting four Christmas gifts this year, and here's why."

This headline captured my attention last year. Judging by its popularity on Pinterest, I wasn't the only one intrigued by it.

The headline referenced a trend called "Want. Need. Wear. Read." If you haven't seen this idea floating around social media, here's the breakdown: buy four gifts per kid -- something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. That's it. Four Amazon clicks and you're done shopping for the season.

Families who try it say it has liberated them.

(Here's a whole Pinterest board devoted to it:

But many more remain skeptical about its sparseness.

As followers of Jesus, we're sensitive to the pitfalls of materialism, including the discontent it breeds. The last thing we want is for Christmas -- a time of celebration and joy -- to feed discontent in our lives. And yet we don't want to be rigid and miserly, either.

Would you try it?

Of course, there is no "right" way to give gifts to our loved ones, and each family will choose its own path.

What about you? Would you try "Want. Need. Wear. Read" with your kids, or do you think it's too restrictive? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Sarra

    We started this the year my son turned one. We noticed that he only wanted the boxes & paper anyway. It completely liberated us from mass buying & created a more intimate time as our family grew & our budget went down. We related it to the wise men bringing 3 gits to Jesus, but we also held onto our childhood & they get one from Santa. Hence 4 gifts

    • Stephanie Hillberry

      Thanks for sharing, Sarra! I love the connection to the 3 wise men. I’d never thought of that before. What a great thought.

  • Brittany Hill-Morales

    I personally think we spend too much time buying gifts for our loved ones. Would it really be the end of the world if gifts were not exchanged nor received? I think when we start asking about gifts and if we are not “giving” enough, it deals with the fact that we forgot the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about receiving the ultimate gift from God, his Son, wrapped as a baby in swaddling clothes. The only person who received gifts at Christmas time was Jesus. In the Bible, who do you see receives gifts in the birth of Jesus?

    • Stephanie Hillberry

      It does seems like gift-buying can often distract us from the true meaning of Christmas. I love to hear about family traditions that include giving “gifts” to Jesus in creative ways–like giving a gift of forgiveness or service. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brittany.

  • Natasha

    I think it’s a wonderful idea, I think kids really do get/have to much these days. I think people are too materialistic, and kids are usually spoiled, which makes them somewhat unappreciative. My family is huge and very close, so my kids get all kinds of Christmas presents and I get so upset with everyone for buying them so much, not because I don’t want my kids to have stuff, but because I want them to appreciate what they do have. Anyway, my husband and I don’t have much extra money, and between the two of us there are 6 kids, so instead of buying Christmas presents, we focus on doing things together as a family and making memories. And even with us not buying gifts, I feel like they still get too much, and my family won’t listen. I just make sure they know that someone has to work hard and earn the the things they want.

  • Melissa

    I don’t think the amount of gifts is what stuck with me as a child. It is the atmosphere. Are people tense, critical? Do I have to mind every little rule, perfect posture and manners? Those things are what left my heart aching with a need to fill it with something else. However many gifts, do we take time to know what people need at a heart level? If they really want that huge Barbie house, I ask why does she want it. Is it a representation of a lack of stress that she feels from us being poor? A little bit. Some of it is just the idea of what need it meets. Afterall, that is what marketing aims for. How to target a psychological need. Maybe a cardboard box with many rooms, personally decorated walls and some doll furniture is good. If what she really wants if for friends to have that awesome play date with her or her imagination to be at its best. Well, there are many ways to get that. Maybe she just needs mom to sit and play with her or to let her play independently to show how big she is. What is the real need. Is it not to be forgotten. If all those other kids have that pricey gift and I don’t, is it saying something about my value. How do I address that? My point is… What most of us want is connection, to feel valued, smiles, joy and love. If the gift is part of what brings that, then yes, if possible there will be more gifts. More so, I want to focus on those connections that brings joy. I could have 1 gift or 100 and if that piece is missing, I have lost what truly matters at Christmas: The exchange, expression, emmercement and experience of Love.

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