Three Gifts

This Christmas we're celebrating like Jesus did. In an effort to keep more of the focus on Him, we're giving three gifts each to our children, just like He received. 

My kids didn't flinch when we shared this idea (not ours, but a first for our family) with them. I think that says a lot.

It took a lot of discipline and careful thinking to pick just the right things...some learning (a sewing machine for my oldest (proud that I got it for $50 on Black Friday), some classic (a peeing baby doll for my toddler) and some for physical activity (a new scooter for my son).

Do you do a certain number of gifts or limit it in dollar amount?

Thanks to Whiplash for sending our family a scooter to review (my daughter, a Ripstick PRO, tried this half scooter/half caster board out to make sure her younger brother could handle it. Verdict: Oh, yes).

My recommendations for some really great gifts this season?  

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Emily in Charlotte said...

We also do three gifts...from "Santa". Our kids are 5 and 3 and know they receive three gifts just like Jesus did. For our other gifts, we stick to this saying: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. We are trying to raise our kids to be thankful and appreciate - but we've already seen the glitch in our plans...our son asked for his three things: a Wii, a Wii game, and a light saber. We reached expensive in one swoop!!!

Merry Christmas!

bingo~bonnie said...

I'm so thankful that we adopted this 3 gifts from the beginning! Our oldest is now 5 and we also have 2 year old twins.

Last year I over heard Nora telling Santa that she had lots of things on her wish list but wanted him to only bring her 3 of the things on the list like the baby Jesus who received 3 gifts from the Wise men. ;) That made my heart so happy to hear her tell him all about it.

I forget where I read it, but the GOLD gift represents what the child really, really wants.... the FRANKINCENSE gift is something that can be shared with the family... and the gift representing MYRRH is an item that the child needs...

For example - When Nora was 3 her Gold gift was an Noah's Ark boat toy that she had admired for a month at the grocery checkout and she is now 5 and still plays with it... her Frankincense gift was a Radio Flyer wagon that we all enjoy using when walking the neighborhood and her Myrrh was a new bed - funny how she thought that she would get to sleep in the den where Santa had left it... ;)

Kids get so much from grandparents, aunts, cousins... and so I think asking Santa to only bring 3 is a great way of keeping them from being so greedy... no more "what else did I get?"

and after all each of our children will buy the other kids a gift and then they will each have one from us... so all in all they will have more than enough ;)

Love from Texas! ~bonnie

Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth said...

We have a certain dollar amount for everyone.

Becky said...

We do a certain dollar amount. The formula is $10 per Christmas. For example, the budget for our ten-year-old would be $110, the budget for our five-year-old would be $50, and the baby got $10. The kids grew up with that unique tradition, and while sometimes it was a challenging making their wish list match the budget, it always seemed to work out.

We started this our first Christmas with a baby when we had no money. We figured our income would increase as the kids got older, and it has. At one point we discovered that we needed to cap the amount, but that's worked out for us as well.

Whether it's a budget limit or a number limit, I think this is a great way to help take the focus off of gifts and onto the true meaning of the season.

Jennifer said...

From the beginning, we have given our kids one gift each on Christmas (plus a couple of stocking stuffers). The thought process is this: it's not YOUR birthday, it's Jesus' birthday. When it's YOUR birthday, you get several gifts (within our budget, of course). Since we can't give tangible gifts to Jesus on His birthday, we give gifts to others to show His love to them. We try to give small gifts to as many people as we can (neighbors, pastors, church office staff, coworkers, friends, Sunday school teachers, etc.) and just give one gift each to the kids. I have to say they haven't felt deprived for not getting loads of gifts on Christmas. With extended family, they always get more than they need anyway.

Bailey's Leaf said...

We not only limit number (this year we are doing the Concept of the Three Gifts-- see my WFMW), but also the monetary amount. We always set a budgetary amount. It hovers between $80.00 - $100.00 for each of us. (Including stocking.) For K-, I was able to secure a $50.00 gift card for Target from My Points. With stocking, I've only spent $50.00.

Like I said in my post, the three gifts forced K- to zero in on what she really wanted instead of the TV commercials getting to her. We haven't had the "I wants!" at all.

Her school has "Santa Shop" so that has encouraged her to be a bit bigger helper in order to earn money to take so that she may purchase gifts for others. The bonus? THEY WRAP THEM, TOO! :)

Southern Gal said...

We always have a set monetary amount for each child. It has decreased some in the last couple of years, but it's still plenty. The youngest gets more because he asks for such inexpensive things. The older two usually get one big ticket item. My oldest is married this year so I have a son-in-law to consider.

We also quit exchanging Christmas gifts with my sister's family. There are eight children and two SIL between us now. We decided birthdays would be a better time to give gifts to them. They still get a lot for Christmas. But don't worry they all know and cherish the meaning of the season.

~Michelle~ said...

We don't have kids in our house yet, but I love the 3 gift idea.

A friend of mine has implemented a 4 gift policy in her house which I also like and thought I'd share:

One thing you want,
One thing you need,
One thing to wear,
One thing to read.

Tina said...

My kids also get 3 gifts each - we've been doing that for a few years now and it works really, really well.

Santa usually brings one thing for each boy - sometimes a shared gift, if it's big.

milissa said...

I don't have children, but there are kiddos in the family and I'm a gifts person, so I had to implement a way to make sure I stay reasonable during this time of year. I do usually do a couple gifts but they have to fit this...

Something you want, something you need, something to play with, and something to read.

All the kiddos in my family are still very young so I can get stuff to fit this criteria with a small budget. As they get older, I may change my gift giving to just 1 or 2 items that fits just one of the criteria above. We'll see. But I do think it's more about the thoughtfulness of the gifts as opposed to the number of items or the expense of the items.

Grateful for Grace said...

We've been doing the three gifts thing now for ten years. It's nice. It helps the focus some.

beckyjomama said...

I had heard about this idea from a friend a few days ago and shared it with my man, we are so excited to start this tradition.

jennibell said...

Santa brings the kids three gifts each, in Jesus tradition. It helps caps our (my) spending and because some of our kids are easy to shop for and one is particularly hard, things don't get off-balance there either. The kids (4) fill one another's stockings with a set dollar amount. This year each child is receiving a new Bible and I am making a family scrapbook for them. We try very, very hard to make the season about HIM and not us, us, us. One thing that curbs the "wants" is not having television!!! We started out not having it b/c we couldn't afford it (we live too far out to get anything but our local PBS station) but after that first Christmas, when they didn't even know WHAT to ask for b/c they hadn't seen a million television commercials we decided we wouldn't get it. And we haven't. . .going on 4 years now. That was an unexpected and wonderful benefit.
Happy Shopping!!

Connie said...

I heard about the 3 gift idea about 3 years ago from a friend, and at first, I thought "that's crazy, it wouldn't feel like Christmas if there were only 3 presents to open." Then I talked to my husband, and we decided that it's a great idea. It helps us focus on the real reason for Christmas.

So, my 4 yr. old knows that he can ask for a big list of things, and Santa chooses only 3 things that he thinks my son will enjoy.

This tradition has helped us be more thoughtful of gifts that we give, also has helped us stay with in a better budget because we don't go crazy buying un-necessary gifts.

Overall, one of my favorite traditions. Thanks for sharing this, I often mention it to our friends and neighbors, and get the same response I gave at first...people think we're crazy. But, it definitely works for us.

Amanda said...

We are starting the three-gift theme in our house as well. The way we do it is that the three gifts are one in each of the following categories: something you want, something you need and something to read.

Becca said...

We do a set dollar amount based on our budget for that year, and I just try to make it stretch as far as possible by shopping sales year-round. I like the 3 gift idea. That would be easy to implement in our home.

Candace said...

Growing up, hubby and I both had three siblings. So, our parents each set the Christmas dollar amoutn at $100 for each child. As we got older and wanted more expensive items, that money was given to us to put with our own money to buy what we wanted. It was great because we never wanted for anything and it taught us how the value of money and how quickly it goes sometimes.

We still get a $100 from hubby's parents each year. We buy our own gift and bring it to family Christmas to show them what they got us.

We are enjoying thinking about what to do with our own children someday (we are yet to be blessed with them). I really like the four points (want, need, wera, read) and the three gifts like Jesus. It will be a tough choice.

Aiming4Simple said...

Last year I heard about a book (anyone know the title?) which encourages families to celebrate Christmas for $100 or less--total. Sounds good to me!

In a desire to keep things simple, I don't think we've ever given more than 3 gifts per child. Often it's been 2 gifts. And we don't spend more than $20 per child; our kids range in age from 2 to 6 years. We've tried to limit gifts from grandparents to one per child, though some of our parents are not that happy about it.

Superchikk said...

We have a 2 year old, and are normally pretty frugal anyway (read: I'm cheap!), but at Christmas it would be so easy to go overboard!

Last year, we got our son 1 gift and a few stocking stuffers. This year, we've bought a family gift, one for him, and he'll have a few stocking stuffers. We've considered the three gift thing, but for now it's just as easy to get him one thing. Between grandparents and aunts & uncles, he gets plenty.

We've also decided that as soon as he's old enough to understand (maybe next year), he'll get to help us choose gifts for some less fortunate children in our community. That will be part of our Christmas budget, and a great way for him to learn that gifts aren't just about him.

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Cathy said...

Wow after reading all these comments, I feel bad that we don't do the three present thing. You ladies have a lot more self-control than I do. We do have a spending limit for each child and each person we buy and we set aside money from each paycheck during the year, so we never go into debt for Christmas. I'm very good with the budget in that regard, but they do get more than 3 gifts.

Phyllis@Aimless Conversation said...

We do the 3 gifts tradition as well. Funny to read how many others so seems like we are the only ones when I mention it in a crowd.

We also allow the children to purchase for one another. With four kids, they end up with quite a haul even with our self-control. =)

Carri said...

We do a set money amount and that is it. They get hat they get and they dont get upset. Sometimes my oldest get's 1 thing for her amount and my son gets 50 but they get the same amount spent on them and that is that.

Jennifer said...


This is said gently and in love, ok? Jesus didn't celebrate Christmas like this. Please see my post here:

Holly said...

We have done the three gifts for several years in our house. It really tames down the "I want it all attitude". Of course, they end up with many gifts from grandparents and family, but we try to keep our focus on the real reason for the season- Jesus.

RLR said...

We shop more by budget than number of gifts - and typically end up with one 'big' gift (Leapster, big Lego set, etc) and some smaller stocking stuffers (puzzles, hair bows, etc) from Santa. As for our family gifts, we like to purchase one item that the whole family can enjoy together. The amount of that gift varies from year to year. This year, our gift is a Wii. A couple of years back, it was a trip to Disney to hang out with family that we don't get to see very often. For us, the idea of a family gift is about spending quality time together and creating great memories.

Jen said...

We told our girls when they were young that Santa has lots of children to provide for so they could ask fro whatever they wanted but to make sure they asked Santa for what they really wanted - so for the past few years they have had a list with only 2 or 3 items...we talk about how the spirit of the season is more of giving of ones self and being with friends and family and that is the best gift - it has helped keep our Holidays fairly low key when it comes to gifts and allows more time to focus on family

Kim said...

My kids are 28, 26 and 23. We have done the three gifts each for over 20 years now. We also have a set dollar amount that we try to stick as close to as possible.

Blondie said...

Mine are little, still, 7,5,2, and newborn, but we have done this from the beginning. One from Mommy, one from Daddy, and one from Santa. We really stick to it, and we really consider our gifts carefully. They get everything imaginable from grandparents, and this limits it somewhat, and enables them to enjoy what they actually do open on Christmas morning.