I can’t believe I’m already thinking about Christmas. And I’m not really one of those people who gets super excited, counts down the days, or decorates early. One year we got our tree on Christmas Eve. It was 50% off by that time, and it me think maybe that was the way to go every year. Though we’re usually a bit more on top of things than last minute tree buying, we’re also not a family that gets into the season well ahead of time. I’m not thinking about Christmas in an “Ohmigosh, it’s going to be here so soon…I can’t wait to do Elf on the Shelf…Christmas movies will be on…woo hoo!!!” sort of way (and no judgement if that’s you).
Instead, I’ve been thinking about Christmas because of the amount of “stuff” we already have, and how no one in our family really needs anything. As a family who is not religious, the holiday ends up being about family (which I love) and gifts (which can be fun, but easily goes overboard).
4 Gift Christmas Challenge
Last year I toyed with the idea of the 4 Gift Christmas which helps to simplify your gift-giving. You buy four gifts: Want, Need, Wear Read. In theory, I really like the idea of this 4 gift rule. In reality, I couldn’t quite get there.
Here is what I love about the idea:
- Simple and minimal
- Might allow for quality of gifts over quantity
- Fun and catchy idea that others can remember too
- Want and Read are easy to figure out for my kids
Here is what I don’t love:
- If I get my kid 4 gifts, chances are, Wear and Read may not be super exciting (though my older guy does love books).
- I have a hard time figuring out what would be a “Need” gift. What do our kids need? Shelter? We have a house. Clothing? That’s in the wear category. Food? Not the most exciting of Christmas gifts. See where I’m going with this?
Christmas isn’t really about need- it’s about extra, so not only could I not figure out this last category, but if I get something my kiddo needs, then it’s possible 3 of those 4 gifts are not super exciting. And I’m not trying to take all of the joy out of the holidays. So, keeping the idea of simplifying and quality over quantity in mind, I came up with a new idea that I thought others might like to try:
The 4-L Christmas Gift Challenge
This approach takes the 4 Gift Christmas Challenge in a different direction and adds in the values of Love, Laugh, Learn, and Longevity, helping to create a new Christmas gift-giving tradition.
Depending on your approach, you can either:
- Buy one gift from each category for a total of 4 gifts, OR
- Make sure that any gift you buy fits one of the categories
The 4 L’s of Gift-Giving:
Love: This one is easy. It’s a gift that the person will love. If your kiddo has been eyeing something all year, or has a collection they always want to add to, that’s the sort of gift that would fall into the love category. For a spouse or friend, think of what they enjoy or what would make them smile. Even if you know what someone would love but it doesn’t fit into the budget, don’t stress. There are lots of options that each person would love.
Laugh: What is something that will make this person laugh? It could be a movie, a book, a game or an experience. For adults, maybe it’s tickets to a comedy show or a funny coffee mug. Your kiddo might laugh out loud at a silly toy. As long as you think the gift-receiver will find it humorous, it will fit in the laugh category.
Learn: What would allow the gift-receiver to learn? This could be a toy aimed at learning, an experience such as the zoo, or something related to an area of interest. For kids there are games that help them learn to count, to cooperate, to spell, and more. It’s really up to you to think about what the person may want to learn more about and how they could do that through a gift you’ll give.
Longevity: What is a gift that might grow with them and will withstand the test of time (within reason)? A bike with training wheels might be an option for a younger child, or a watch for your spouse. Maybe you give your parents family photos, or the family goes on a trip and creates lasting memories together. Think about long-term here and choose a gift that the person will likely have (or keep memories of) for more than just the season.
The 4-L Christmas Gift Challenge is a way to get more focused on meaning and memories and hopefully lead to less clutter and crap that can sometimes come along with the holidays. I’m going to use this to guide me in my gift-buying this holiday and will use it as a decision-making model for each purchase. I likely will buy more than the four gifts for my kids, but am going to make sure that each purchase fits one (or more!) of the categories.
Remember that you can use this idea for all members of your family, and even friends or events that you need to buy gifts for. If you’re heading to a white elephant exchange and aren’t purchasing for anyone in particular, think about what someone might like to learn, such as mixing their own drinks, or a gift that would make most people laugh (I can always use funny glassware!).
Lastly, these ideas can be applied to any budget. You can even make gifts to fit these categories. Don’t let your budget or the length of your list deter you from giving this a try.
Happy holiday shopping!! Let us know what you end up giving!