Ashley Does: The Four Gift Holiday Rule

Last year at Christmastime, we were poor.

I’m being super honest with you right now. POOR. Like, there was no money at all.

We decided to have a minimalist Christmas and explained to the girls what that meant:

Santa would come, of course. Stockings would be filled. But other than that, there would be no other presents.

When they asked why, we did what all good parents would do: we lied to them stretched the truth a bit.

We told them we were saving all our Christmas money for a special trip to Disneyland.

That is partially true. We do plan on a special trip to Disneyland at some point in the future. So it wasn’t exactly lying to them.

That’s not exactly the point here though so moving right along…

They accepted this news extremely well. And, come Christmas morning, they each had something special from Santa and I had stuffed their stockings with fun trinkets from the dollar store and candy I got on sale.

It was probably the best Christmas morning I can remember in eight years as a parent.

My point is this: Christmas doesn’t have to be a big to-do with thousands of dollars spent for children to be excited, happy, and grateful. In fact, we found that the exact opposite was true. When we spent less money and put more emphasis on family, Jesus, and giving to others, we had the most special Christmas on record.


This year, we are much less poor. I’ve already completed most of my shopping for the girls but I did let them know that since last year was such a success, we would be minimizing presents from now on and focusing on spending time together, celebrating Jesus, and giving to others.

I told them this little rhyme, and they were completely on board:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

This is not a new idea (nothing under the sun is new, right?). But it was the first time my girls had heard it, and they loved it. Anything that rhymes and sounds like a song is always a hit with my kids! It was going so well!

Then they started making lists.

There’s a chance we need to revisit what the word “need” means.

When I took a look at Olivia’s need (she’s 8, mind you), she had listed an iPod. An iPod. (Didn’t we already establish this is not going to happen?)

I explained to her what a need is: something that you use in everyday life that you don’t have, or something that would make life better or easier. Like a great pencil sharpener or notebooks or shoes.

She amended her needs list to include a bike. (Lord have mercy…)

We are still working on it. See, this poor kid has been brought up in a world that is very confused about the difference between a need and a want. Plus she’s eight, so it’s confusing anyway. (Heck, it’s a confusing concept for most adults I know!)

My kids, my house, my parenting style – none of it is perfect. It’s a constant work in progress, as I am sure yours is. The important thing is that we are doing our best, and in this case that means I’m giving my girls this little rhyme and trying to teach them the difference between a want and a need and giving them a bit of perspective. I’m trying to help them realize that wants are not guaranteed in this life, that we don’t always get what we want and that’s OK. But we do get what we need, and we help others to get what they need – and that’s the important thing.

How are you helping un-entitle the Holidays this year? What are your go-to Holiday gift hacks? Comment with them below!

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