Four Gifts: Our Family’s Christmas Tradition

I’m not a minimalist per se, but our oldest child was born in November, so before I knew it our first Christmas as parents was here. And it was a doozie. There were so many adorable clothes and accessories and toys that my then one-month-old certainly doesn’t remember. She got more clothes for Christmas that year than we could even dress her in, even just for photos. And we certainly didn’t have room for all the toys and stuffed animals.

After that experience, I knew we couldn’t repeat that every year. I’d seen a friend’s recent Facebook post about how in order to manage some of the holiday gift-buying chaos, she adhered to the concept of getting each child in her family four gifts each Christmas. And not just any four gifts, mind you. The formula for getting four gifts is rhymed to make it easy to remember.

Each year every child gets: Something you want; Something you need; Something to wear; Something to read. As our family has grown, and more littles have been added to our krewe, I’ve kept up with this tradition.

The Why

To put it simply, having this guide keeps me sane(ish) and keeps our budget in check around the holidays. With all the ads and excitement in the air, I know how easy it can be to go overboard when shopping for Christmas.  It also takes the pressure off to some extent and helps me to stay present and focus on the less material aspects of the season – celebrating the birth of Christ and spending time with loved ones.

I also think it is good for my kids. They are starting to get old enough to understand how this model is different than some other families. It is my hope that as they grow they will appreciate our motivation and will themselves embrace a less frantic and more fulfilled mindset, not just at Christmas, but every day.

The How

The guide is pretty self-explanatory, but below are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Something you Want

For us, this is where we “splurge” if we want. A couple of years ago, we got our daughter her first bike. But cost doesn’t necessarily determine the real value. Last year, we took the opportunity to wrap up some of my husband’s old drums for our son. He’s still loving (and we’re still questioning) that decision a year later.

2. Something you Need

This is the practical part, and maybe as the kids get older they will roll their eyes at this gift. But I also think it is a chance to make an “everyday” item fun. For example, our daughter wants a new/bigger water bottle for school, so I’ve been scoping out some with the best designs, that also keep the water the coldest.

3. Something To Wear

I have found that Christmas seems to fall at the most convenient time for replacing some recently outgrown items or finding deals on winterwear – and here in Louisiana, it is barely starting to get cold!

4. Something To Read

Books are timeless and treasured here in our house. Maybe consider starting to collect a series of books with your kids through the years.

Give it a Try

As you embark on your holiday shopping this year, I invite you to consider the Four Gifts. It has been fun to solve the puzzle of the four best gifts for each of my kids each year. Maybe this year is the right time to try something new for your family, too!

Sarah Brichetto
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sarah moved to New Orleans in 2009 after graduating from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) and is proud to call New Orleans home. She is a CPA and the Finance Director at a local real estate development company. Sarah lives in the Freret neighborhood with her husband, Matt, and their three kids: Elizabeth, Paul and Isaac. You can often find them roaming the neighborhood streets, taking streetcar rides, or enjoying one of the many local parks. In her non-existent free time, Sarah loves to try the newest local restaurants, cook, read, and write.


    • Great question. I’m sure there are many ways to handle this, but for us, the four gifts are from mom and dad. Santa only does stockings for our kids because we are always traveling/staying with family on Christmas Eve and the logistics of orchestrating Santa gifts either at a different time or in a different state just seemed to great. Hope this helps!


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