Two Fun and Meaningful Ways to Reduce Christmas Present Overload

Two Fun and Meaningful Ways to Reduce Christmas Present Overload

Two Fun and Meaningful Ways to Reduce Christmas Present OverloadA few years ago my husband and I became discouraged at how materialistic Christmas was becoming. Not just just in society at large, but also in our own home so we decided to make some changes. I heard some moms discussing  several things they had done to get the number of presents they were giving to their children under control. Two of the ideas these moms suggested sounded fun, satisfying, and easy to do. I liked these ideas because they were ideas that could easily be explained to children who had become accustomed to receiving numerous gifts from their parents. I wanted an idea that my husband and I could implement without imposing some arbitrary limit on gifts and I also wanted it to be something the kiddos would enjoy as well.

My family is a Christian family and so the first option works very well for us because it limits the materialism and quantity issue and focuses the gift giving back on the true reason we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus. The second idea would work for both religious and nonreligious families. Both ideas are easy to do and they will bring Christmas shopping back under control in your home. They also might save you some money or at least help you keep your holiday spirit. An added bonus for families who do Christmas lists is that the kiddos will learn these methods as well and will become more effective Christmas list makers.

These Christmas present gifting methods both allot four presents per child, but you still have the option of placing small gifts in a stocking if you really want to add a few things.

1. Three Kings Method

The four gifts in this method are modeled after the gifts that Jesus received from the Magi/Wise Men and Mary in celebration of his birth.  “Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt 2:11b)

Gold – Jesus was given gold as a symbol of his kingship. It is a traditional gift or tribute for a king because it is valuable and it holds its value over time. For my children  the gold gift is a gift of something that they value. For example, my son loves science so a recent gold gift of his was a microscope. My daughter loves music so she got a mini CD player with microphone as her gold gift last year. I usually wrap this gift with gold wrapping paper for added effect. The gold gift does not have to be the most expensive gift, but it should be the most valuable to the child.

Frankincense – Frankincense is an incense burned during prayer. It is symbolic of prayers rising up to God and of the priesthood of Jesus. This gift should symbolize or relate to your child’s relationship with God. Examples are a Bible, Christian music CD, religious jewelry, etc. Have fun with it and be creative.

Myrrh – Myrrh is an expensive spice with several uses including use as perfume and for anointing the dead. It is symbolic of the physical humanity of the incarnate Jesus and of his death. This gift should be something related to the child’s body. Examples of myrrh gifts we have given our children include a trampoline, skateboard, sports equipment, and dance wear.

Swaddling Clothes – “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7).  Every year my children get pajamas to wrap themselves in. My kiddos really look forward to their new pajamas at Christmastime.

I love this method since it is focused on the Christmas story. It is a great teaching tool and my children really love it, too.

Two Fun and Meaningful Ways to Reduce Christmas Present Overload

2. Four Gifts Rhyme

This idea is super simple. Here is the rhyme:

  • Something you want
  • Something you need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

How simple is that?

I hope these ideas help you improve your family’s holiday experience. Let me know if you try one of these ideas. This will be our fourth year using the Three Kings Method. It is working great for our family and Christmas shopping and planning is a breeze! Whatever you do, I encourage you to make the holidays a time of giving, serving, learning, and love in your family and not just a time of receiving.

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About Janice

I am so glad you stopped by. Kick your shoes off and hang with me a while. I am an Arizona native, wife to a hard-working hubby, mom of two, and daughter of the King. I love sharing recipes, crafts, and family activities that any mom can do. Life is complicated enough, right? When I am not up to my ears in laundry, dishes, and creating for Celebrating Family, you will also find me at East Valley Mom Guide. Come follow me on Google +, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Debra Wagner says

    I remember when you changed your thinking! It is a wonderful change!

  2. My family uses the rhyme, for any gift giving holiday. My son is only a year old and doesn’t know any better so he is just getting one or two gifts from us- the rest of the family spoils him enough as it is, he doesn’t need anything but I couldn’t pass up a soccer ball for him and a couple of small bath toys in his stocking.

    • The rhyme is fun. 🙂 We have very generous and spoiling grandparents and aunties so my kiddos still get too much even though we do the Three Kings method. They sure love Christmas!

  3. Janice, I found you on AZ bloggers. My daughter just told me last week about the four gifts thing AND I LOVE IT! Thanks for sharing and reminding me!!

    • Glad you found me. 🙂 I love these gift giving ideas. They really make you think about what you are buying your kiddos.

  4. We just started to do the 3 Kings gifts a couple years ago and we love it! No more just buy, buy, buy…but we put more thought into each gift that we buy the kids. Of course they still get TONS of gifts because they give something to each other and then get things from family and friends, so it’s not like they are missing out. (And if we really want to get them something that doesn’t fit one of the 3 gifts…it comes from Santa 😉 )

  5. happy momma says

    LOVE IT! I just wrote a post about slowing down and eliminating much of the holiday madness. This a great post about presents with a purpose. I think I will update my blog post to include a link here as added encouragement and inspiration. Glad I found you at raising homemakers link-up.

  6. What a great article. I LOVE it!

    I shared everywhere! I’ll have to bookmark this to share with my husband.

  7. when we were kid and adults we had dinner at graands and then put name in bowel who got it bought the gift for the peron under 10 dollar

  8. LOVE the Three Kings idea!

  9. Jennifer Mae Hiles says

    Such a great idea. I really like the Four gifts rhyme. I know that gift giving with my family had gotten way out of control so we decided to buy for the kids and pick a name out of a bowl (between my mom, brother,s sister, and their significant others). That really helped and we were all less stressed.

  10. Karen H in NC says

    Some good thoughts and ideas here. Thanks for posting.

  11. Love the idea…keep up the great posts!!

  12. Lucy Lopez says

    This is a wonderful idea. I will be trying this idea this Christmas. Thank you for sharing.

  13. The Four Gifts rhyme is wonderful! Especially for younger children. Now that my kids are older, they ask everyone not to buy them a bunch of stuff (I love that!). They still like to get a couple of presents, but they agree that more than that is just a waste of money. <3

  14. margaret peg m says

    my family has been looking for ways to cut down materially at x-mas also and i love your ‘THREE KINGS’ solution. i’m going to implement and pass it on. thank you!

  15. Rebecca Pietron says

    This is such a great idea and I am considering doing this with my family this year!

  16. I just loved this. My husband just got laid off and I am scrambling to figure out how to pay for Christmas. The rhyme you posted just set me at ease. How simple, but how perfect. I will get each of my recipients something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I love it.

  17. Lindsay Lee says

    Never thought of doing this. I am going to have to talk to my husband about doing this this year. We just added another kid to our family this year so now we have 3 kids to buy for. This would be a really good idea for our family!

  18. Three Kings Method is a cool idea. haven’t thought of it before but will surely trend once I introduced them to my folks. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I love both of these but the rhyme is more likely to be used in our familys. Thank you very much.

  20. This is a great idea. I think we tend to give our children way to many things for Christmas . They probably already have enough toys. Give them something they can use or learn from . Books are great for gift.
    I have never heard of the four gifts rhyme idea. Thanks for sharing it.

  21. This really got me thinking. I am guilty myself of getting too materialistic when it comes to Christmas. I have never heard of either of these, but think the Three Kings one would be a great fit for my family.

  22. I love the second idea! We do one big gift from ‘Santa’ and a stocking full of necessities …

  23. this is a very different posts than the ones i am reading now a days about christmass! people need to think that way more!

  24. I don’t have kids yet but I’ve thought about doing something like this just to keep things reasonable. Some parents go WAY way overboard. I had a frend in high school whose parents spend over 2k on her each christmas. CRAZY.

  25. Kristie Betts says

    I’ve never heard of any of these, but the Rhyme I can’t do. My husband christmas was always clothes and no toys mine on the other hand was toys and clothes pretty much the Rhyme. My husband doesn’t have a problem buying clothes for our kids around christmas time but they don’t go under the tree which mean the kids knows that they’re getting toys.

    • Our teen kids LOVE getting clothes, but if you have little ones, suggest to your husband doing “fun to wear” items. Last your my then four year old got a batman cape and mask as his something to wear : )

  26. Those are great ideas! I love that they bring more meaning behind each gift as well. We may just try one of them this year.

  27. I love this post , great ideas I will share with my family Thank you!

  28. Andria Marie de Guzman says

    Perfect giveaways for Christmas Season specially for the kids at Orphanage .,.,

  29. Karen Glatt says

    I agree that Christmas has become to materialistic! The ads all say that we have to have all these presents in order to be happy. Buying more and more things does not make a person happy! I like the Three Kings Method that you discuss here. This is very helpful to me in keeping the true meaning of Christmas alive!

  30. I think the three kings story is great way to reduce and each the story It really brings meaning to the story

  31. I’m liking the rhyme method. I’m going to share this to my Facebook wall. Thanks!

  32. Debra Wagner says

    This is such a great idea, love it!

  33. sounds like a great idea

  34. i done something better i won my and then my grand son and daughter and adopted daughter and gf all get gift over 20 for free

  35. Jennifer Mae Hiles says

    I had to pin this article into my “great ideas” board on Pinterest. I have found myself doing it again this year – buying way too many gifts. I vow to next year go with your rhyme. I will introduce it to my family so they know what to expect next year.

    • It really does make Christmas easier and less crazy! It’s not supposed to be so stressful! Good luck with it next year. 🙂

  36. Jennie Hawkins says

    I Love these ideas. I am now a grandmother. I am going to share these ideas with my grown children, whom are now parents. We always added Jesus into our gifting. We wrote on the gifts from Jesus rather than Santa, because everything we are given are from Jesus. This reminded the children to be thankful to the right person.

  37. Angela Huffman says

    Thank you so much for posting this! This is our first Christmas with our daughter and we have been gathering ideas to help us to set an expectation to keep our family Christ-Centered, but in a gracious way that our extended family may continue to celebrate with gifts as they desire to do. We considered borrowing ideas from other Western cultures or not even not doing gifts at all, but it seems your 3 Kings idea is going to be the best! To boot, SWADDLING happened before the kings arrived, therefore, we can keep our Christmas Eve new PJ’s tradition with the step family-ha! thanks again!….by the way, my HUSBAND found this article today after I had been searching for months. always fun to know men have been on-and SHARING your blog! Merry Christmas!

  38. Just the type of inigsht we need to fire up the debate.

  39. Óóóó, imádom a chilit! 🙂 Gyönyörűek a képeid. A kedvencem az a kis bohócsipkára emlékeztetÅ‘ fajta. Egészen különleges íze van és illata. Nem tudom sajnos a nevét, de ültettem a konyhaablakomba is. Sok nem termett rajta, de magnak elteszem majd.

  40. I’m really into it, thanks for this great stuff!

  41. I LOVE the quilt! I’ve always wanted to try making one ( I think I could handle the front) but sewing the back on completely confuses me. I’m going to take a look at those tutorials!

  42. I’ve been searching for ideas after last year’s present overload with our 3 year old son. I absolutely love the rhyme – thank you so much for sharing!

  43. Hi there, I think your site could be having internet browser compatibility
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