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Simple Christmas for Families: Gifts

I am a total gift person. If I had the time and money, it would be so easy for me to buy mountains of Christmas presents for my family and friends. I would love to be able to pick up whatever I see in a shop that reminds me of one of my children, and wrap it up and save it for Christmas. I find it a complete pleasure to give gifts that I know are ‘just right’ for a particular person.

Not all people are like this. My husband, for example, feels a lot of anxiety around gift-giving. So for our first Christmas after we got married, we needed some sort of approach that would both curb my desire to buy everything my husband could want, and give him a guide to make decisions about what to get me. We needed a simple formula for Christmas gifts.

Simplifying Gift-Giving

As we got near to that first Christmas together, I went back to a rhyme that someone had mentioned to me:

One thing you want,

One thing you need,

One thing to wear,

One thing to read.

There is a lot to love about this little rhyme. I find that it offers a lot of flexibility. There are millions of books to choose from and even more clothes. It is also lets me choose really personal gifts (what is it that Carl really needs this year?). And because we limit ourselves to one thing in each category, it forces us to slow down and really think through what would make the best gifts for one another.


The Practical Side of Simple Gift-Giving

Every November, sometimes October, I sit at my computer and draw up a little spreadsheet (which I mentioned in my first Simple Christmas post). On that sheet, I give each person three columns. In the first I list ‘Want’, ‘Need’, ‘Wear’, ‘Read’. In the next I list my idea for each category along with a link. Finally, I list the price for each item. At the bottom of the spreadsheet, I add up my total to make sure I’m sticking within the Christmas budget.

I do this early because we have two family birthdays at the end of November and early in December. I usually jot down what gifts are being given for birthdays, just to make sure there isn’t too much overlap.

Another great reason to start thinking through gifts earlier in November is to take advantage of any post-Thanksgiving sales. I usually make a lot of savings buying ‘One thing to wear’ on Black Friday (online – I wouldn’t venture out, personally). I also see toys on sale for the kids or tools for Carl. However, since I already know what I’m looking for, and the best price already out there, I spend a pretty short amount of time actually shopping. It’s just a quick check for a bargain, and then I’m done.

Gift Ideas for the Simple Gift-Giver

Because we give relatively few gifts per person, we pay a lot of attention to both quality and longevity. Our kids our growing and changing fast – what could we give them that will be fun, interesting, and used by them beyond the next few months? I’ve put together a list of the gifts our children have received over the last few years.

lovely gifts

The Beauty of Setting Boundaries with Gift-Giving

Honestly, it would be easier to spend all the money and buy all the presents. But I don’t think it would be best. Approaching gifts with limits in place around the quantity, cost, and type forces me to be thoughtful about the person I’m buying for. I can’t buy everything, so I want to buy the best that I can. I feel that it’s that type of thoughtfulness that really shows care and regard for the recipient, rather than giving everything under the sun.

How do you decide what to buy your family for Christmas?


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