Today while walking on the treadmill with a friend discussing the mayhem and mania that the month of December delivers to our doorstep, she enlightened me on one of her family’s holiday traditions. When buying gifts for their immediate family members they purchase four gifts; one from each of the following categories.
Something they want.
Something they need.
Something to wear.
Something to read.
Not only is this advice proposed in a cute little rhyme, it as prevents (as my mother would call it) a visit from the “Ghost of Christmas Excess.” If you are like me, your basement is littered with toys that haven’t been touched in ages and you may struggle to create the Christmas gift list you are constantly being asked for. (Okay, so there are a few things you want, but you get my drift.) So why not simplify? Try this shopping style this year.
Something They Want
This one may be the easiest gift of the four to identify for each person in your family. Maybe it is the hottest tech item or a gift related to their favorite hobby. How about tickets to a play or concert or favorite sporting event? Most children talk endlessly about the latest toy or game craze and you know your husband has been eyeing that tool/golf bag/hunting bow for months. So now is the time. Pick their top item, purchase it, and then cross item number one off the list.
Something They Need
This also, should not be hard to identify. While not exciting, I do specifically getting car mats from my dad one year. You could think of a daily used object that needs replacing like a coffee mug or microwave, a gas gift card or renewing a gym membership. You could create a calendar to keep the plethora of family events in order for mom, or a lanyard to keep track of keys for a teen or college bound kid. Maybe your child has grown out of their hockey pads or ballet slippers. This would be the perfect time to replace them. So, item number two… check.
Something to Wear
Fun winter pajamas, new snow pants or skiing gear, slippers, a baseball cap featuring a favorite team, a scarf, a golf glove or the ever over-gifted tie. My friend and I discussed that new work out wear is always a great gift and would fall wonderfully into this category. Especially with ever growing children, this should be an easy item to buy. Cruise through the clothing or sporting goods section in the nearest department store and you are three fourths of the way done.
Something to Read
Of the four gifts to buy, this one may require the most thought. But with that being said, it might also prove to be the most meaningful gift you give. Keeping with the religious themes of the season, you could give a devotional or a Bible. For pre-teens and teens, pick a novel with a great message that promotes a value important to you. There is a never ending supply of imaginative and engaging picture books for young children as well. Lose yourself in the book store for an hour and I know you will have more options than people on your list. Magazine subscriptions would also be a fantastic gift fit for this category, and it is a gift that would keep giving all year long! Before you know it, your shopping is done, because with the book bought, bingo, your Christmas shopping is complete.
The Hardest Part
Now, the hardest part of this tradition will probably not be finding the gifts or purchasing them at affordable prices. No, the biggest problem will most likely be sticking to the plan. Even if you see the perfect gift… if it’s outside the limit, it’s off limits. Some families I know have added a fifth gift, a gift they must give away. For children, maybe a toy, for adults maybe a restaurant gift card. A gift for someone they know who could use a little help or a smile.
We live in a society of excess. We are used to a super-sized, extra everything, value packaged life. Children grow up feeling entitled and parents end up feeling like they can’t even offer enough. This year, cut back on the spending and clue into a more sentimental holiday tradition with your family.
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