Save Money With The Rule of 4 Gift Giving

Rule of 4 Gift Giving Is Bound To Make An Impact In Your Wallet

By Melissa Shrader Editor Publisher Loveland MacaroniKid November 28, 2022

As a kid, I loved when there were TONS of gifts from Santa 

under the tree and stockings overflowing!  

Once I became a mom, I wanted to bring that kind of magic to my kids Christmas year-after-year. TONS of gifts that they wanted, big stockings packed full of trinkets and snacks! For a couple of years that is precisely what I did! 

I would start Christmas shopping early and stash stuff away, but by the time Christmas rolled around I had completely lost track of how many gifts I had bought and how much money I had spent. I ended up with more gifts than necessary and overspending. Not to mention, that as my daughter gets older she finds my hiding spots!

A few years ago, our family hit a rough patch. With Christmas approaching, I came to realize that the extravagance I had created would simply not be possible nor practical. 

That's when my Mom reminded me of the "Rule of 4" for Christmas gift-giving.

What is the Rule of 4? You pick one item from each category and you are set. 

One thing they want

One thing they need

One thing to wear

One thing to read

I decided that would be the rule that Santa would follow in our home. My husband and I decide to buy one gift that would be from both mom and dad too. We all still make wish lists so I can get a feel for what the biggest wants are and I do my best to choose one for each category from those lists. Once I've done that, I pass the lists on to friends and family who inquired about what the kids want.  
Following these guidelines has allowed us to scale back Christmas, save money and (as we'd soon discover) save our sanity! We can afford things that really matter in everyday life more easily.

On Christmas Day, the kids have enough presents to open to enjoy the magic of Christmas, without having so much that they became overstimulated, overwhelmed and cranky.  Having a more "reasonable" number of gifts allows them to more thoroughly enjoy each gift they are given and to focus on the values of the holiday season. They also appreciate what they have and treat the gifts with care. They are more thankful for what they receive and they actually play and use ALL the gifts they get.

My mom let me in on a secret too. She used the Rule or 4, and it was my "perception" that I had a TON of gifts when in reality I had a simple Christmas that felt extravagant.