Four years ago, we changed the way we do Christmas gifts for kids. Instead of buying willy-nilly (within our budgetary limits), we shifted to a want/need/wear/read structure. This means our kids get 4 gifts from us, and each of them fit a specific purpose or category. This framework has actually been so freeing for me! Instead of wandering aimlessly around stores or websites, I ask some specific questions and once I have my answers, I’m done!

“What do you want?”
They know that we only buy them 1 “want”, so they tend to be more focused in how they answer that. N’s want last year was a (used) iPhone. K’s was a DS game. And yes, they were pretty close in price. Ha! This one is the broadest category, and can be just about anything that fits your budget and your kid’s fancy. Toys/gadgets are an obvious options, but you could also do tickets to a show, a class in something they are passionate about, or a membership to one of their favorite places to go if you are into experiences over stuff.

“What do the kids need?”
Last year, N needed jeans desperately. He’s tall and skinny and you usually can’t find cheap jeans in his size or just come across a good pair at a thrift store, so we spent a little more than we usually could and got him a couple of pairs of nice jeans for his need (on a really good sale). We got K new bedding. Jo got a MedicAlert bracelet. You can define need however you’d like, really. Some kids may need private lessons for fine arts or sports. Some kids may need gear for sports or scouts. Some kids just may need new socks! Everyone needs something and it makes our life simpler if we can use Christmas budget to accomplish a little piece of that.

“What wearable item would be perfect for him/her?”
A few years ago, K desperately wanted this handmade Elsa hat she saw in the lobby of her Christmas show, it was a perfect “wear”. Another year, I came across a “Best Day Ever!” shirt that was just meant for her. We’ve given Jo heart warrior swag. N loves to get a new pair of Converse. Concert tees, hoodies, new sneakers, new pajamas, rainboots, perfume/cologne, jewelry…so many fun things to wear! You can also knock a need out with this category, if they need both a wearable item and a non-wearable item.

“What book would he/she enjoy the most this year?”
There is such a huge variety of written materials! Last year N got Chernow’s Hamilton biography and K got the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. Board books, fiction, how-to manuals, comics, a magazine subscription, scripts, a fancy hardback copy of their favorite book of all time, the next book in a series they love…there are tons of options! You could even get a Kindle if it is within your budget, or Kindle books if you are reducing clutter. Who doesn’t love getting something new to read?

That’s it! It feels so much simpler to me to check off four categories and know I’m done! It makes the giving feel more focused and thoughtful, too. I know I only get one shot at each category, so I really want to find something they will love. It also minimizes overbuying and clutter. So many wins!

How do you do Christmas gift giving with your kids? Have you done want/need/wear/read?