We have a Christmas gift rule at our house… 3 gifts. One of my colleauges told me about this tradition when Jack, my oldest, was 5 months old. Since then, we have implemented this rule and it has been one of the best Christmas traditions for our family. Not only does it represent the true meaning of Christmas- the 3 gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus- it also keeps things simple and focused on the celebration of Jesus’ birthday – not the gifts.
There are some other benefits as well:
- The kids are thoughtful and intentional on the three gifts they ask for. They always make a list, but then have to narrow it down to their favorite or most important three items.
- It’s budget friendly – except for the year your kid asks for a Nintendo Switch.
- It takes pressure off the parents to make Christmas morning bigger and better each year.
- You don’t have piles of toys and stuff that collect in your house and the playroom the next day.
- You get more time to make memories – instead of shopping and wrapping a million gifts.
When the kids were little, they had no objection or reason to think other families did it differently. Now that they are older, this rule has become a part of our family Christmas tradition and they can explain it to anyone that asks. It becomes a mindset switch from commercialism to family and faith. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good present and I love shopping. This rule also helps keep me in check from buying all the stuff.
So many times, kids don’t even ask for what they really want, they just list all of the toys seen in TV commercials or those darn YouTube Kids videos. The joy of opening present after present slowly fades, and then it’s over. The kids don’t even remember what they got or who gave it to them. We are left cleaning up the mess and then donating all the “must-haves” from last year to make room for the “must-haves” from this year.
Looking back on Christmases from my past, the memories and traditions I hold most dear aren’t the specific gifts I received. I remember making special Christmas cookies with my mom and grandmother, picking out a Hallmark ornament each year, driving around to look for Christmas lights, dancing to Jingle Bell Rock on my great-grandmother’s rug, and decorating the tree with my brother and sister. The three gift rule gives our kids a chance to appreciate what they have and savor each moment. It brings back joy and gratitude and time.