How do you feel about the amount of toys your child receives each Christmas? Do they get a ridiculous amount of ‘stuff’ that you just know will end up shoved in a cupboard after being played with just once? Well…. let me tell you about the “4 Christmas” rule that I’ve come across.

It feels like the second your little one turns into a toddler and beyond, instead of getting cute little outfits and small books and toys, they start to receive an absurd amount of colourful plastic toys with lights and noise coming from everywhere. There are presents from grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and of course, from us parents. People LOVE to buy gifts, it’s such a nice thoughtful thing to do, it comes from a place of pure LOVE and of course, you want the little one on the receiving end to LOVE the gift…. though it’s kinda overwhelming for those kiddos of ours to have so many toys to open up and play with all at once.

It only seems to multiply the more children you have too…. So you can imagine how happy I was when I stumbled across the idea of the 4 Christmas Rule. It’s SO simple and allows us to still lovingly purchase gifts for our children, but in a more meaningful way. It’s one that I am sharing with our family and friends and another bonus is that you will end up saving yourself a little cash.

The 4 Christmas Rule is all about giving just 4 gifts to each person:

  1. Something you want
  2. Something you need
  3. Something to wear, and,
  4. Something to read

This rule allows you to really focus on what each person would like and choose gifts carefully with their personality in mind, rather than buy 20 plus little gifts. It also helps develop gratitude in children, which is something we all want to foster in our kids.

What About Family & Friends?

Of course, when it comes to friends and family this rule isn’t easy. Most of the time, even if everyone in your circle gave your child one gift, you’d have a HEAP of stuff and this would take away from you implementing the 4 Christmas Rule. At the same time, we never want our family and friends to feel like their gifts are unappreciated.

It’s always hard to navigate family and friends, there are many different factors at play, though what you can do is have a little chat in the lead up, explain what you’re doing for presents this Christmas and hopefully lead into a little chat about how many toys your children get, and that perhaps this Christmas maybe they could arrange a special activity to take your child to – experiences make the BEST presents and memories for life and it’s something that your child will truly treasure.

My aim is to stick to the 4 Christmas Rule this year, I am looking forward to watching my children open and take the time to enjoy their gifts! Let me know if you decide to implement the rule, and how it went!

Do you have any tips on chatting to family and friends about reducing gifts? SHARE with us in the comments below.

  • good rules and makes less waste


  • That’s a good list to go by. I’ve never followed anything like it, I tend to spoil at Xmas and birthdays


  • Have done this since I had kids…so easy and then you don’t over buy for them. 2 from Santa and 2 from mum and dad. Very simple


  • For stocking fillers you can use underwear, socks, coloured pencils needed for school in the New Year


  • It’s been doing the rounds for many yrs. we r forever buying books, and things (clothing and shoes etc) when they r needed. Of course they also get them for Christmas but I usually tend to go overboard. My kids play with all their stuff anyway


  • ive heard of this before and think it’s a good idea to simply things. Grandparents are usually really good and always ask if there’s anything bub needs.


  • I have asked for items that my kids need eg new school bag, bedding etc, family have been great and have appreciated the ideas

    • Such a good and practical idea and having the extra money leftover is a bonus.


  • Sounds like a nice easy option.


  • This year I asked family to gift my kids gift card vouchers as it’s easier and when the Boxing Day SAme comes I buy my kids everything half price or less


  • This is a great idea! There are so many toys my son has already and Im worried for christmas and birthday as I know there will be so many more. I am very grateful that people want to spoil our son, but we live in a tiny house and things build up quickly! I like to suggest a few family members go in together to get something like a ticket to the zoo, or the local animal farm so we can have an experience there one day instead. I love that this creates memories for him too. We also have been gifted a toy library membership so that was great to keep swapping the toys over every few weeks


  • I’m reducing the amount of gifts I make too. With the gifts I bought for my daughter, I’ve already followed the 4 rules. Plus a couple of small things.


  • Yep, I only give presents that are useful, needed, wearable and sustainable. There’s already enough clutter building up.


  • Ivy seen this rule before and I like it. I buy my nephews experience gifts because they have everything and love spending extra special time with a special experience.


  • We do not over do it at Christmas time. Family and friends are sensible too.


  • We’ve pretty much been doing this all along. We go more for a day out with the grandparents/cousins/aunts/uncles rather than millions of gifts.


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