Blog: Christmas & The Four Gift Rule
Christmas 2017 is fast approaching, like it’s December at the end of this week. Wasn’t it like July just last week? Research hows that the average Aussie family have over 100 toys in their house and then are spending $310 per child on presents. So Christmas is either your favourite time of the year or your most dreaded. For a long time it was both for me. I was excited to spoil my kids, but dreaded having to think about what to buy them. So thinking to make it easy on myself I’d just do a massive lay buy at the mid year toy sales, go crazy on shit they probably could live without. (Clearly Candace + thinking is rarely a good thing) Then come Christmas Day I’d sit and watch the furious unwrapping of each present, then watch them in slow motion, toss it aside like it wasn’t a big deal that I just got them the latest toy every kid just had to have. What the actual fuck…Do you know how long I waited in the fucking lay buy line for that damn Furbie you HAD to have child!!!?
Having one child was easy, she really didn’t understand ‘Christmas’ just yet so she was spoiled rotten with presents that I just saw and bought. Too many presents really, but she was our first baby, first granddaughter in the family for both my family and my husbands…It was given she was going to be spoiled.
With two children, it became a little more expensive and double the amount of toys were tossed aside and forgotten about.
Three children, ok this was getting out of hand and harder to buy for. I had to really think about what I was buying. (Well let’s call it thinking cause it was just plain stupidity) If I was buying something one liked, the other would probably like it too, then I thought, only two of these and three kids…better buy three of them, so we’d end up with three of the same item and yep the wrapping was ripped open like it was a life or death situation…5,4,3,2,1…and toss…next present, no appreciation at all.
Having four children has definitely made it ridiculously expensive, the lay buy total quadrupled and it was now even more harder to buy for as the older two were now pretty much pre teenage years and weren’t into the same things the younger two were.
Enter The Four Gift Rule. Four gifts from mum and dad. That’s it, four gifts. Plus a couple from ‘Santa’. This has saved us money at Christmas time and now I love seeing their faces light up and remember that they actually had some input for what they got. No more buying hoards of presents for us…EVER. This is a great way to not only save money, but can help to teach your children thankfulness, help them understand that money does not grow on trees and with the little ones your cover will not be blown as they still receive a couple of presents from Santa (but they understand the majority of the gifts come from mum and dad while those that come from Santa they had no idea about). We have found with each year that we do this they actually show more appreciation than the last. My husband and I also do this for each other, although this year we decided not to, I’ve had a couple of big ticket items this year and hubby is happy with just a t-shirt! My opinion is that Christmas is a time for family, summer time and holidays. I want my girls to remember the fun times we had as a family, rather than the hundreds of dollars spent on them.
So, if you’re finding you spend way too much money at Christmas toy sales and want to stop going over the top, then you should give this a try. We also apply this to birthdays. I’m not saying boycott the sales, this rule could work at the toy sales, just go with a clear list and have budget for each child. Let them pick from the catalogue what they want and just do those on a lay-buy. And if it doesn’t work for you, then thats okay too. Some parents just love to buy loads of presents and I get that, kids are cute and we all love spoiling them, but sometimes, financially it’s not possible. Buy loads or do this rule…No judgement here.
The mid year toy sales can be financially viable if you stay within your budget and don’t go crazy. I do like the fact they give you until very close to Christmas to pay it off. It does save you hiding the gifts at home, as they hold them until it’s paid off (If you go with the traditional way of everything from Santa and not the four gift rule) But I have found in the past, buying things they are ‘Into’ at that time of the year, they possibly may not be what they are into are the end of the year.
Below is how we do Christmas & The Four Gift Rule in the Brook household, what my girls are getting this year and how I get them involved.
In about June/July I usually ask all four of my girls what they want for Christmas, I give them a few weeks to really think about it. Once the toy sale catalogues arrive, I let them flip through and they pick out a couple of things each. Ones they really desire. If one is more expensive I suggest to maybe get the less expensive one for Christmas and the other one can be their want for the next birthday. All four of my girls have different tastes, this year it’s a complete mixed bag of desires; one wants her ear pierced, one wants Paw Patrol things, one wants a basketball hoop and ball, and the last wants something fun to use outdoors.
This is a great way to get new school shoes or runners for the following school year. But it can be anything they can wear, one year my girls got knickers because they were all in desperate need of them! This can be a great way to update their wardrobe with summer items if they are in need, Molly is usually the one we buy for the most in clothing, everything that doesn’t fit her gets passed down, and so on with the other two big girls, Myla ends up with a lot of hand me downs. This year they are all getting new bathers for this summer. Previous years they’ve all had dresses or shoes.
I see parents at the toy sales, with trolleys full and they are unable to see over the pile, unable to steer the damn thing, most of the time it’s more of a novelty because their friends are buying it for their kids or it’s a hot item for that Christmas. When at the toy sales, if you go, stop and think…‘Do they really need this?’
So, this is also another sneaky way to incorporate the following school year necessities and save you some money. Buy them things like a school bag, lunch box, drink bottle or a pencil cases. This year my girls are getting new Converse shoes for school which I bought back in July from Surf Stitch Online, they picked out the colour of the shoes, so it was another way to have them involved. The first year we did this, they all got new school bags, lunch boxes and pencil cases from Smiggle or as I like to call it the store of expensive school items, I don’t hate Smiggle, I just think its overpriced. Kmart always stock a great range of school items, so I get it all from there now. Made it much more easier when the time for buying school book lists etc.
I will admit, my girls do use their iPads more than they should so this one is great for reducing screen time and hopefully getting them to read more. It can be one book or a book collection. This rule is the only one I actually go to the mid year toy sales for, I find the ‘good’ book collections tend to come out in those sales. My girls all have different tastes in reading material so they all get something different but tend to share the books anyway. They are only getting one book each this year.
I usually get the girls to flip through a catalogue, not the toy sale one, but one in October/November and get them to tell me an idea of what they would like from Santa. This year was a tough one though. Our eldest is at the age where she knows, in fact she told me she’s known for a couple of years. But bless her, she hasn’t ruined the magic for the other three. It’s only a matter of time before Matilda realises though. The younger two, I still have some time before that happens.
All four have different interests, this year I feel like I asked repeatedly what they would like and all I got was ‘I don’t know’ for weeks. Luckily something that was meant to be happened and we decided that we would buy the older three a ticket to see P!nk in concert next year when they went on sale. These were the most expensive items we’ve bought, because obviously I have to go with them.(Not complaining though…love P!nk) Myla was easy to buy for, I asked and she delivered her answer within minutes.
I hope this has helped you see an insight to our gift giving, be it Christmas or birthdays.