Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows.
Edwin Osgood Grover passed away in 1965. He lived and died in an era bereft of toy flamingos that chill out on a toilet, flatulent slime, poop-emoji pillows, squishy brains, and Exploding Kittens card games. When it comes to Christmas shopping, 2020 is a wild time to be alive. So let’s be honest, giving your kids an Amazon toy catalogue is probably an exercise in futility. They’ll circle everything—literally everything—while you wonder how you’re going to afford a laptop, hoverboard, iPad, a pair of Nikes, and a game of Unstable Unicorns. Unfortunately for you, that’s just page one. Thankfully, the new millennia has also given us social media, from which the “four-gift rule” has become a trending topic in recent years. The four-gift rule is a fabulous way to give those wallet-draining, tiny little versions of you something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. In exchange, you’ll get back some of your livelihood and hopefully, some of your money as well.
Giving Them Something They Want
You can consider this the “big gift.” This is the toy or item they’ve been most interested in all year long. Its not the candy cane that’s been hanging on the back of the Christmas tree for the last three years just because your kids have been begging for it. The “big gift” is that hover board they’ve been dying for, the new PlayStation 5, an Echo Show, or an iPad. This is the one gift they’ll be excited about and won’t disappear into the growing heap of plastic, unused toys in the corner of the closet. It’s difficult for children to appreciate what they have, when their toys accumulate to the point when some are never even played with.
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Giving Them Something They Need
This can correlate with something to wear as well. Kids are growing constantly. Their schoolwork, skills, and interests grow right along beside them. There is still plenty of room for creativity here. Your choices aren’t limited to mundane, every day items. If they need new shoes, or a new jacket, your ultimate decision shouldn’t conflict with the remaining two rules. If they need a book or a new pair of socks, go for it! This is the only category where “need” is the singular factor. Of course, you can stretch the rule some, according to their needs and your budget. If your kids need pencils, notepads, art supplies, and toothbrushes, get them all and turn them into stocking stuffers! In fact, stuffing their stockings with necessities, candy, and assorted goodies make the “need” category more fun for everybody. A Reese’s cup will make a pack of pencils much more alluring.
Giving Them Something To Wear
The unfortunate side-effect of having children, is that they grow. Christmas isn’t always perfectly timed to coincide with growth spurts. Buying a larger pair of jeans can be a pain if your child has no hips yet, and has to walk around like it’s a potato-sack race. This can be something they want to wear, so go for that cute unicorn shirt, the sequin jacket, or the cargo-pants. You can break out the Amazon catalogue too, even if they do circle everything. Since this category is more about buying clothes that your kids want, let them choose. If they’re still young enough for Santa, go with what they have personally and would love to wear. None of the four-gift rules are stringent and unbreakable, Bracelets, earrings, or necklaces are items that have more of that “gift” feel and will help remove some of the sting if you’re family is transitioning from hordes of Christmas toys to the four-gift rule.
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Giving Them Something To Read
Reading feels like a dying hobby. It always seems like more and more children are adverse—sometimes extremely so—to reading. To be honest, visual entertainment is hard to beat when the choice boils down to either reading Harry Potter, or watching the CG extravagance of the Harry Potter movies. Since reading is far more advantageous when it comes to developing vocabulary, literacy, and comprehension, it’s a fantastic gift that will have lasting effects well beyond anything Hollywood is churning out. If your child just isn’t interested, try audio books. Sure, it isn’t quite the same and lacks the developmental attributes of physically reading, but it does foster an interest in the written medium. It may be that a good, exciting audio book is just the thing to drive a child’s interest towards actually reading books for enjoyment and education. If they’re beyond the age where Santa Claus is relevant, let them choose. Choosing their own books is far more effective at creating an interest in the written word.
The four-gift rule is a great way to accomplish a number of different goals in both parent’s and children’s lives, despite the grandparents and their child-spoiling ways. Plus, there are valuable lessons to be learned by embracing the trend. A basic understanding of personal, financial responsibility is desperately needed in our younger generations. Only a quarter of young adults are financially independent by the time they reach their mid-twenties. Ironically, the same social media platforms that brought us the four-gift rule, has had negative impacts on the spending habits of millennials. Many young adults are heavily influenced from the buying trends they see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. It’s a great idea to get your young ones to look up from the latest YouTube episode of InquisitorMaster—yes, InquisitorMaster is definitely a thing—and focus on the more important moments in our family lives. The four-gift rule is by no means infallible. Most children receive gifts from outside of the family as well. So long as they’re learning from the values you teach them, then a little extra-exuberance from the grandparents won’t ruin everything.