The 4 or 5-gift Christmas challenge for your family part 2

“Oooh fuuudge!” You still haven’t finished your Christmas shopping. “…Only [you] didn’t say “fudge.” [You] said THE word, the big one, the Queen-Mother Of Dirty Words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!”

Welcome back! Thanks for reading part 1 of this series. I appreciate you humoring me as I sprinkle my favorite A Christmas Story (1983) movie quotes into these posts.

Previously, “I TRIPLE-dog-dare[d] you!” (and myself) to buy only four or five Christmas gifts for each child. It’s quite the feat. The idea of the Christmas challenge is to get only a few meaningful gifts. Is less more?

gift boxes on brown wooden board
Photo by George Dolgikh on

From Santa

  1. Something(s)* You Want…Example:  Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun
  2. Something(s) You Need…Example:  Old Man’s (Ralphie’s dad’s) glue to fix the broken leg lamp
  3. Something(s) to Wear…Examples:  Ralphie’s “pink nightmare” bunny sleeper pajamas; Randy’s snowsuit
  4. Something(s) to Read…Example:  Little Orphan Annie’s secret code

Stockings – Someone to Feed…Example:  Ralphie’s Fudge!

From Parents

5. Something(s) to Share (or Do)…Example: A fancy family dinner out at the local Chinese restaurant (The Bumpuses are not invited.)

Ralphie’s grownups weren’t sold on the Red Ryder BB gun idea. Maybe you’re not sold on the 4 or 5-gift Christmas either.

In Favor of the 4 or 5-Gift Christmas

  • “All I want for Christmas is [quality time with] you.” (Me!)
  • I’m frugal. (Me!!)
  • I’m lazy and would rather just stay in bed literally and figuratively. Thank goodness for Amazon, am I right? All aboard the Amazon Express. I think I can [Christmas shop]…I think I can.” (Me!!!)
  • It gives Christmas gifts a theme. (I’m an English teacher. I think in themes!)
  • It encourages intentional and purpose-driven shopping.
  • It helps kids (and parents) remember the gifts. What did my son “need” in Christmas 2015? What did my daughter “want” in 2018?
  • This framework is great for when the kids are older and gifts on their wish lists are more expensive! (The quality is more important than the quantity.)

Against the 4 or 5-Gift Christmas

  • “All I want for Christmas is you [and gifts].”
  • I saved all year. I can’t wait to see my kids’ faces Christmas morning!
  • It’s better to set a money rather than a gift limit. Generally, kids gifts aren’t as expensive as adult gifts.
  • Gift giving (especially Christmas gift giving) is my love language.
  • There’s nothing more magical than seeing lots of Christmas gifts under the tree. It’s a sight to behold for kids and parents!
  • This framework is not so great when the kids are younger and look forward to opening up gifts. (The quantity is more important than the quality.)
opened white and red gift box
Photo by George Dolgikh on

What I’m Doing This Christmas

*Will my family take on the 4 or 5-gift Christmas challenge?

I’m going to have 4-gift “Something(s)” categories for our Santa gifts. But I won’t limit myself if I want to buy multiple gifts in one grouping. For instance, each kid only has one “Something to Wear…” gift, but he/she has “Something(s) to Read…”.

Why break or finagle the 4-gift rule?

First, the sheer act of opening gifts is more meaningful than the gifts themselves. This is especially true for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The sense of overwhelm at seeing (and touching so many gifts) helps children, who can’t think abstractly yet, experience the joy and love of Christmas in a concrete way.

Secondly, the price of gifts tends to be lower for kids’ gifts. (Although, my husband gave a hard veto for a 7-piece rocket ship priced at $60.69. Sorry, son. We love you to the moon and back, but we need to save for the next space mission. We went with a Stomp Rocket Jr. toy.) It’s easier to get a lot of inexpensive gifts when your little elves are young.

Do the four gifts include stockings?

Nope. Each sweetie, my husband included, gets a stuffed stocking from Santa! (I’m kind of mad/sad our knit stockings are so big, haha. Couldn’t we find smaller ones to fill?) The “Someone to Feed…” stocking will exclusively contain treats, something(s) my kids may eat or drink.

What about the fifth gift category, “Something(s) to Share…”

My husband and I are planning to spoil the kids with a big parent gift, you know the “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!” My husband and I don’t want Santa to get credit, haha!

What will it look like under the Christmas tree?

My husband and I (Santa’s helpers) are wrapping each category of gift in a different color wrapping paper. We have two green kiddie chairs that belong to a play table. We’ll place each kid’s stocking on top of the chair with the gifts around it. Each kid has a stocking with his/her name on it, so the stocking’s the sign, if you will, pointing to our son’s and daughter’s respective gift area. (We’re stealing the great staging ideas from my wonderful mother and father-in-law!) We only have two children, so it’s easier to help Santa prep for Christmas morning, but we bet it gets harder with more kids and less floor space.

assorted color gift boxes
Photo by George Dolgikh on

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Less is more or more is more? You decide.

So do what your gut tells you is right. What happens under the Christmas tree is a private family matter. You know what’s right for you and your kids. Don’t let an internet trend stress you out or dampen your Christmas spirit.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a “…Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, around which the entire kid year revolve[s].”

Will the 4-gift/5-gift + stockings Christmas be a trend or a tradition for your family?

3 thoughts on “The 4 or 5-gift Christmas challenge for your family part 2

Add yours

  1. To reign everything in in our house, we do a 3 gift rule because baby Jesus only got 3 gifts. Kids get a gift from us, gift from each other and gift from Santa. Everything then gets a stocking a candy, tooth brush and lil $1 store knick knacks. Kids get other things from grandparents, etc so they have plenty.


  2. We have not set an exact dollar amt. kids luck out this year because we completed christmas shopping this summer when toys r us was going out of business and we got more bang for our buck


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