10 Holiday Gift-Giving Rules Families Swear By

The "want, need, wear, read" guideline is very popular.
Many families set gift-giving guidelines to stay within a budget and keep their focus on the non-commercial aspects of the holidays.
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Many families set gift-giving guidelines to stay within a budget and keep their focus on the non-commercial aspects of the holidays.

The gift-giving spirit of the holidays can be a wonderful part of the season. But some people have a tendency to go overboard (and even max out their budgets) buying Christmas gifts.

In the interest of managing finances and focusing on the true meaning of the holidays, many have implemented guidelines to keep their holiday spending in check.

We asked the HuffPost Parents Facebook community to share the gift-giving rules that work for their families. Read on for some holiday tradition inspiration.

Want, Need, Wear, Read

“We have five kids. Each get a want, a need, something to wear, and something to read. Santa leaves what he can, which can vary depending on the budget that year!” ― Erika Berry

“Four-gift guide for the kids: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” ― Libby Deichsel

Spending Limits

“We set spending limits for our kids. They may not get an equal number of presents, but the $$ spent is the same.” ― Jeannie Daniel Carey

Experience Gifts

“We try doing something special with each grandchild to make the gift the memory created instead of objects.” ― Janine Harm

One Big Item From Santa

“We keep it low key. One big item from ‘Santa,’ and then usually two medium items from us, as well as some books and maybe pajamas.” ― Katie Bundy

Kid Gifts Only

“We don’t do sibling gifts, just gifts for the kids.” ― Heather Bates

“We only buy for the kids in the family. Occasionally, we will draw names for one adult to buy for, but not every year. My husband and I do buy each other presents. We try to emphasize to our kids that what is most important is spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus.” ― Jeannie Daniel Carey

A Nice Meal Together

“Christmas with family friends is gifts for kids only. We usually cook a nice meal. One family will do the meal while the other does snacks and drinks.” ― Desiree Fletcher

“We stopped doing presents for siblings and changed to doing a nice brunch/dinner together instead. Gift giving just turned into one person giving another person a list of ideas ― not very fun.” ― Ashley Poché Collins

Quantity Limits

“We limit gifts from Santa. This year they each get a game from Santa and their stockings. I loosely follow ‘want, need, wear, read.’ So they have five gifts to open in total. Limit gift-giving to extended family. We don’t buy for siblings, etc. We set a spending limit. We ask that grandparents give experiences. And above all, no stuffed animals or junky toys.” ― Amanda Chartier

“We buy each of our kids four gifts: one educational (usually a book), one something to wear (could be a sweatshirt, a soccer jersey), one just for fun and a calendar. Now that they are college/high school, we don’t do Santa gifts.” ― Emily Ingle Lewin

Money From Grandparents

“Grandparents give money towards kids’ bank accounts instead of a toy that will be forgotten or broken by the end of the week. My parents give us a ‘Christmas bag of stuff’ full of practical things like shampoos, soaps, fuzzy socks and some snacks in a reusable shopping bag. Keeps it simple and useful.” ― Heather Bates

Equal Amounts

“I try to get one thing each of them really, really wants, then a few little things they will enjoy, a new set of pajamas and a book for each kid. Oh, and same number of gifts for each, always.” ― Chelsea Byrum

Giving With Intention

“We have four kids. We don’t have any hard and fast rules, but we try to be very intentional with what we buy because anything times four is a lot. We really try to stick to just a few. And as an added strategy this year, we’re doing a group present for them. They’ll get that and a few individual presents and that’s it. Except the baby. He’s getting rewrapped baby toys... and he isn’t going to care at all.” ― Angela Nesbitt

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.

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