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Save money with the ‘Four Gift Rule’ this Christmas (USA Edition)

We all love seeing the look on our child’s face on Christmas morning when they discover the pile of presents under the tree.

But with the ongoing cost of living crisis, many parents are left with less disposable income, so it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re able to enjoy this Christmas without breaking the bank.

Save money and cut the clutter

There is a handy way to balance budgeting and gift-giving, that can bring the cost of Christmas right down and reduce the clutter in your home.

The ‘Four Gift Rule’ is a handy trick that has popped up online in recent years, and it goes like this:

1. Something they want

2. Something they need

3. Something to wear

4. Something to read

With this method of gift-buying, you limit yourself to buying four presents for each child. Whether you’re planning to spend $30 or $300, you can adapt the rule to suit your family’s budget.

It really is about whatever works best for your family, but the general idea is that each gift is given for a reason – not just to add to the impressively large pile of presents under the tree. 

A few carefully selected presents will mean that your child is more grateful for the gifts they do receive, and hopefully, you’ll be less stressed and more able to just enjoy the festive period.


1. Something they want

Finding a gift that your child wants is easy – many children will have a list of items ready and waiting!

Try to choose something they will genuinely enjoy for a long time; but if they truly have their heart set on whatever their friends at school will be getting, that’s okay too.

The Sylvanian Families Adventure Treehouse will last a lifetime and any die-hard Sylvanians fan will be ecstatic to wake up to this treat on Christmas day.

For babies and toddlers who are a little young to know what they want yet, look at our tried and tested gifts for babies and toddlers for a little inspiration.


2. Something they need

Buying a practical gift is a good habit to get into and it means you know it’s something that will be used.

This could be a new school bag, a duvet cover set for their bed, or toiletries.

Something they need could also be an educational toy, to support your child’s learning in a way that’s fun and interesting for them.

For example, Penguin Math Balance creates hands-on learning opportunities for children of 3 years+. 


3. Something to wear

Just like the ‘something they need’ gift, this is something practical that you know will get plenty of use. 

It could be anything from a funky set of PJ’s or a t-shirt with a favorite character on it, to that coveted ‘fashion’ item.

For older children who are a little more fashion-conscious, we suggest keeping the receipt (just in case!) or giving them a gift card so they can enjoy the independence of choosing something for themselves.


4. Something to read

Last, but certainly not least – whatever age your child is, reading can help them understand the world and themselves, discover new worlds, and learn new things. From potty training to fall-outs with friends, there’s a book for everything.

That could be in the form of a storybook – you could buy a special edition of a favorite book, a sequel to a much-loved story or try a new genre altogether.

You could also consider a subscription to a publication or magazine that your child is passionate about.


An alternative approach:

If the Four Gift Rule isn’t for you, how about planning your gifts around the Balanced Play Pyramid? 

A balanced approach to play means encouraging your child to spend their time doing a variety of activities such as active play, board games, and arts and crafts.

Christmas is a great time to make sure your child has a range of toys to support balanced play:

By choosing toys that help your child get a good balance, and they can learn lots of important skills simply by playing!



However you choose to plan your gift buying this year, remember that it’s the memories that your child will cherish the most.

Spending time together, playing games, and watching your favorite Christmas films, is the most valuable gift you can give your child.