This Idea Will Change How Your Family Does Christmas (My 4th Year & Counting!)

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girl laying on belly pointing to gifts under christmas tree - 4 gift rule

Simplify your Christmas this year. 🎁

The “4 Gift Rule” is a unique Christmas tradition to simplify your family’s gift-giving. Less stress, more grateful kiddos, & so much more meaning! Read on to find out what it’s all about.


kids in living room on christmas morning opening gifts

As we all know, Christmas can quickly get taken over by a surplus of gifts and often times become overwhelming. Not to mention the clean-up afterward is a task of its own!

After years of contributing to the gift madness during Christmas, I decided to call it quits and enjoy a more simplistic holiday by starting my new tradition. By simplifying your family’s Christmas this year you’ll be less stressed and in return, your kids will receive gifts that are more intentional & meaningful.

It’s called the “4 Gift Rule”.

feet standing in front of flocked christmas tree with 4 gift rule presents on floor

Imagine the idea of just giving 4 gifts to each of your children. 😳

There was once a day where I certainly couldn’t, but three years ago after realizing how much frivolous stuff my kids received I couldn’t take it anymore.

I know this idea might come off shocking if you’re used to going completely overboard, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents asking on Facebook or Instagram what to get their kids because they already have it all…🤔

hand holding red present with merry christmas wrapping paper

That said, I can promise the 4 Gift Rule takes so much pressure off YOU & your wallet during the holidays. This might also allow you to splurge (or hold out for a great deal if you’re a Hip2Saver) on a gift you normally wouldn’t buy if you were spending money on a boatload of other things.

Here are the 4 gifts you’ll shop for if you’re doing the 4 Gift Rule:

  1. Something they want – such as a popular video game, dollhouse, play kitchen, or the hottest new trends this season.
  2. Something they need – such as toiletries or maybe a more expensive item you’ve been neglecting to buy like a fancy electric toothbrush.
  3. Something they wear – such as makeup, new sports equipment, or a sports jersey for their favorite team.
  4. Something they read – could be educational, a college textbook, or even something interactive.

christmas tree with gifts wrapped on floor

This is our minimalist gift tree from last Christmas.

Let me start by saying my kiddos still enjoy Christmas just as much as they have every other year (if not more).

Instead of a 4 Gift Rule, I also incorporate 1 more gift – something you DO and a bonus gift for all my kids – a “share gift”.

By knowing what my kiddos truly want for Christmas and not what the latest and greatest trending gifts were, it made our holiday so much more special. Plus, I feel so good about it every year because I know I bought things they really love.

Hip Tip: Encourage your kiddo to list a few different options for each of the 4 Gift Rules when making their Christmas list so they’ll still be surprised come Christmas morning and you’ll have a few extra ideas for extended family who may want to get them something too.

two letters on brown paper laying on wooden table

Another thing I love about the 4 Gift Rule is crafting up unique ways to give their gifts or wrap them up especially fancy so their anticipation is super high come Christmas morning.

As an example, last year I wrote a couple of fun poems for my boy’s “share gift” and wrapped each one of them in a big box, sending them all around the house until the final poem led them to their surprise!

It also made them feel like they had more to open and built the anticipation and excitement even more. 🥰

boys with scooters on top of wooden skateboard ramp

The final note lead to their “share gift” which was ultimately their “big gift” – a homemade skateboard ramp that happened to go perfectly with their “want gift” – new scooters! 😍

The options for your family’s 4 Gift Rule are ENDLESS.

boy with skiis standing on mountain

Over the past 3 Christmases, we have had so many amazing memories thanks to our new 4 Gift Rule tradition.

The “do gift” is often my favorite and is quickly becoming one that my kiddos look forward to the most as they get older! We’ve gone skiing, paintballing, and also took my daughter to enjoy a Disney On Ice show.

Every single thing has always been a total hit! ❤️

close up of red christmas present with 4 gift rule share on tag

More than anything, I am just so proud of my self-control! 👏🏻

Even when I was tempted by last-minute things in the stores I stood my ground and said “NO! What I already have IS enough.” I say this because I’m absolutely not tooting my own horn, but rather sharing how life-changing this new way of gifting has been for us as a family.

girl wearing gingerbread outfit standing in chair baking

As a bonus, clean-up was minimal and we’re able to enjoy a delicious Christmas morning breakfast together before heading to Grandma’s… whereas before we started this tradition, mornings were complete chaos.

Christmas is truly so special & meaningful to my family now (in more ways than one) so I challenge you to give it a try too!


Here are more of the amazing benefits of the “4 Gift Rule”:

christmas tree with wrapped gifts underneath

  • It makes your holiday shopping more simplified.
  • You’re likely to spend less money.
  • Creates an equal playing ground when everyone gets the same amount.
  • Kids will think harder about the things they really want.
  • Create grateful hearts.
  • Kids will have more appreciation for what they have.
  • Christmas morning will be less hecticmore enjoyable.
  • Less clean up when all the unwrapping is over.
  • Helps everyone focus on what’s really important during the holidays.
  • Doesn’t make other kiddos feel bad when they didn’t get “as much”.

Here’s what some of our readers had to say about their 4 gift rule experiences:

two reindeer gifts with christmas lights

“We have done this for 5 years! They are always pleased with what they receive and doing just 4 gifts allows us to afford a family trip each year, which they are always excited to learn about on Christmas.” – Dawn


“It makes it so much easier but also harder because I really think hard about what I’m getting them. It’s a wonderful tradition in this over-consuming America! I don’t buy stuff just to buy stuff anymore!!! We are living a minimal life and it’s beautiful!” – Chelle 


“We’ve been doing this for two years and I LOVE IT! My children have been so spoiled which is my fault, so we are trying to reign it in. I don’t want them to think Christmas is only about gifts.” – Shawndra 


“We have been doing this the last few years, I love it. It really reduces random buying. I still do a stocking with fun stuff and jammies on Christmas Eve.” – Samantha 


“We do this!! I’m a single momma of 4 kids, so this helps with the budget as well as makes sure gifts are equal. The kids love it and ask specifically for certain gifts. It takes the surprise away at times but they also get to look forward to getting what they’ve asked for in each category.” – Karen 


“We started doing this 4 years ago in our house and it has made the holiday so much more enjoyable.” – Tracy


Hip Tip: Help your kids with their list by using these reader suggested techniques:

girl writing christmas list

“When you have kids make out their list, have them list in those categories. It’s a good lesson in their needs vs. their wants.” – Mary 


“I do this and we have a board up divided into the 4 categories and the kids can add to the list, this really makes them think about gift ideas. My kids are 14, 13, and 8 and we thankfully have no complaints about this!” – Brandy


Ready to give it a try? Check out our FREE printables below!

Dear Santa letter printable

christmas wish list printable

christmas wish list printable

I also created a 5 Gift Rule printable for ya along with my bonus share gift if you want to give my custom Christmas tradition a try! 🎄


Here are some other great gift ideas that our readers shared:

gift of time experience box - 4 gift rule

“I do 3 gifts for my kids. 1. Something they want. 2. Something they need. 3. An experience – This could be going to a sporting event, a concert, a Broadway play, swimming with dolphins, etc.” – Sarah


“We’ve done this the last 4 years and have loved it, but this year everyone is in charge of buying an entire-family-experience. My 12-year-old wants to treat the family to see the Nutcracker movie, my 6-year-old wants to have an art painting night and my husband and I are each planning a little weekend getaway. Grandparents usually still spoil them and Santa will still fill stockings.” – Rosette


woman standing with kids on scooters downtown at night with rain and christmas lights

Christmas should be a season of joy, togetherness, and, for many, the celebration of Christ’s birth. We all have a choice to mold it into the way we want it to be, so make the most out of your holiday. No matter how you decide to celebrate this year, make it memorable, and surround yourself with family.

Merry Christmas, Hip2Savers! ❤️


Get the hottest Black Friday deals for 2021 HERE.


Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 5 years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.


Join The Discussion

Comments 121

  1. Lee

    We somehow have this kind of tradition with my daughter! I let her write Christmas wishes on clean paper. She loves to draw on its background afterward. It was more effective and easier for me since I’m not good at gifts lol. We love doing it because every Christmas it becomes more memorable. Even on her birthdays! Thank you for the printable ideas I would love to try them for my daughter to write on this year!

  2. Danae Daria

    We do something very fun every year. My niece and my husband made it up many years ago … Christmas Adam ( because Adam came before “Eve”) December 23rd. Now it’s a big tradition. Cousins share gifts and aunts and uncles give to the kids. We have a family gingerbread house contest. We play games. It is soooooo much fun! This year we are adding a Christmas Auction with “Christmas Bucks” ( money with different family members faces on it.

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