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:

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  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.

  • Hard to restrict family but try to not buy too many things the rest of the year.


  • Christmas and self restraint and two words that go hand in hand. I go over board


  • I’ve already vastly reduced the gifts I buy at Christmas time. Hubby and I no longer buy for each other. Our two kids and their partners usually get cash or a voucher. My grandson however is a different story. I do tend to still buy quite a lot of things for him


  • That is a good idea. I made my son donate some of his toys to charity this year to make room for new toys.


  • Such great idea


  • That’s interesting and a good idea never thought about that. Although the read one will be an issue for my eldest daughter LOL, she hates reading these days


  • Interesting article. Thank you.


  • That is quite wise and useful.


  • I keep telling my family not to buy me anything but I still get things I do not need or necessarily want and they already know I have too much clutter!


  • Good rule, can’t promise I follow it for all though.


  • Great idea! I really like this idea


  • I always buy things for my grandchildren after speaking with their parents. I don’t want to get something they already have and I do want them to enjoy their gifts. It’s worked so far. I love the idea though


  • it can get really hard though


  • This is a great rule to have and one that I have been following since my daughter was born. I always make a list before her birthday or Christmas of things she needs and might like so when people ask me what to get her, I can pick one or two things off that list for them to get. That way I know she is getting gifts she actually needs and will get plenty of use out of. I will of course let some people get whatever they like because they may have children of a similar age and I have confidence that they will have the same mindset I do when it comes to gifts.


  • I have basically been following these rules for quite a few years now. My kids each get a book box set, a bath/body pack I do up which includes some new pjs, something they’d love and sometimes some new clothes (especially if they’ve recently had a growth spurt).
    As a mum of six (ranging from 2yrs to 14yrs) it helps reduce some of the stress, and stops the overflow of unnecessary stuff coming into the house


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