By now youve likely heard about this strategy for simplifying holiday gift-giving.
The idea, popularized by countless parenting blogs, including Simple Kids, is to limit childrens gifts to one item from each of the four categories: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.
I loved the concept from the moment I first learned of it a few years ago, on a crafting website where one mom had designed some homemade gift tags for her kids presents.
Now its a matter of adopting the strategy and finally, dutifully sticking to it.
Like many shoppers at holiday time, I have a difficult time winnowing possibilities. My husband and I talk a good game about the dangers of rampant consumerism, telling our children that less is more and that Christmas isnt about a mountain of stuff under the tree. But somehow, every year, the mountain reappears. And I realize that the rampant consumer is me.
Not this time.
This year, Ive told the kids were sticking to a plan: Four gifts one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to read. Plus stockings, which is their favorite part of Christmas morning anyway. Plus one new family board game, which is my favorite part. (No one said this couldnt be flexible.)
And now I broadcast my pledge to all of you.
Hannah and Jack were, predictably, a little unhappy at first. Jack, in particular, balked at the wear category, as hed gladly wear the same jeans and T-shirt every day if we let him. Couldnt he trade the wear for another want? Or even another read?
Hannah, meanwhile, predicted her need would be boring stuff like toothpaste or copy paper. Chuh!
Not necessarily, I explained. Without giving anything away, as Im certain my children read all these columns (ha!), one of the most appealing parts of this gift-giving strategy is how its limitations spur creativity. Its the difference between a perfect, delectable four-course meal and the crushing gluttony of a cheap buffet.
The best part, though, is knowing our holiday season wont involve aimless shopping trips or Black Friday stampedes. By adopting the want-need-wear-read blueprint, gift-giving becomes more thoughtful. The gift-opening, I hope, will be slower-paced and reflective.
Well see how this goes.
In any case, Im hoping the weeks leading up to Christmas will be focused more on memories than merchandise, things we love that dont cost much, such as baking cookies, decorating the house, singing carols, watching Elf and driving in our pajamas to see holiday light displays.
Thats everything I ever want or need.