What’s the 10 Gift Christmas Rule?

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14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you’re paid every two weeks then we’re 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between…are you ready?

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

If you didn’t already know this then I’m certain you’ve seen the overabundance of Christmas in almost every store, strangely placed right next to the Halloween items. If panic, stress, and anxiety are starting to pull out a chair and make themselves at home in your mind, then keep reading. I may have a solution for you!

When my kids were young, guilt sat stubbornly and squarely behind every action or reaction I did that spoiled them. Parenting on my own, meant long hours at work and very little time at home. The guilt that I would feel could at times consume me and lead me to overspend on birthdays and holidays or even just a quick trip to the store. The sad part of this is that most often my kids didn’t even ask for these things. 

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

The guilt of only a few fast moving hours at home with them each night and no dad at home, pushed me to want to give them anything and everything. Yes, there was always a cost associated with this, one that would often leave me in trouble with the light company but there was an even greater cost lurking behind my cloud of guilt and shame.  

Looking around our tiny home you could easily identify that this was a problem. Too many toys.  Way. Too. Many. Toys!  And much more that had only been played with once or twice and then sat in the in the sad pit of an overflowing toy bin. 

 

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

“Things” did not equal nor represent my love for them. The newest gaming systems didn’t make me skyrocket to the leader of the top parent pack. Why was I trying to compete with other parents anyway who offered zero contribution in the raising and developing of my children? These were my kids, this was my responsibility and comparing myself to others was stealing my joy and stifling our livelihood. 

It was important to me that my children felt loved by me and not by what I could give them. It was important that they understand that as well. Time spent, memories made. Those were the things that mattered most. A slight change in my mindset enabled me to keep Christmas within budget for the first time ever.

Christmas had always been the most challenging time of the year for me in years past. I hated seeing our tiny decorated tree without any presents under it. I would focus on what I couldn’t give them, these thoughts creating an open door to depression. Which in turn allowed me to justify using bill money to pay for Christmas.

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

But this year the lights and water were staying on, bills were paid on time and I didn’t have credit card companies harassing me for payment on maxed out low limit credit cards. And…I didn’t have to take out a satan filled payday loan. Praise Jesus!

Prior years I remember feeling a slight level of disgust watching my kids pour over toy catalogs and writing out a huge list of things they wanted on their Christmas wish lists. Worse yet, was when they would pick random toys just to put something on the list because they already had everything they could want! I felt like I was raising spoiled brats. They were consumed with themselves. 

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

 

What was I teaching my kids? What kind of humans was I raising? I know the world needs more selfless, grateful, givers and that’s who I intended to raise.

It was then that the “Less Things, More Memories” mentality consumed our household and the 10 Gift Rule was implemented for Christmas. 

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

 

The kids and I did a big sweep through the house and boxed up lonely dolls, trucks and other toys, and donated it all to others. Going forward, if a new toy came into the house, two older toys were donated to others. The kids never seemed to mind. I was really expecting some pushback, temper tantrums and fits but the thought of the new toy seemed to take the sting away to offer something up for the donation box. Later the focus turned more on giving something to others.

As Christmas approached, instead of a Christmas wish list and a toy catalog, I gave them a list numbered to ten that looked like this:

  1. Something you want.
  2. Something you need.
  3. Something to wear.
  4. Something to wear on your feet.
  5. Something to read.
  6. Something to make.
  7. Something to play as a family.
  8. Something to do.
  9. Something to give to others.
  10. Something to do for others.

This list has been used throughout their younger years, teenage years and now we’re approaching the young adult years. I hate that my kids have grown up so fast…at least through this blog, you don’t have to see me ugly cry as I type. My ugly cry is so…well, ugly. 

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

Back to the list. Number 2 could be something like a new coat or putting money in their savings or college accounts. If they just recently received new shoes or didn’t have a need for new shoes, then number 4 could be fun, silly socks, a pair of the more expensive athletics socks or some super soft slippers. My kids have a love for reading so number 5 most often consisted of a book series instead of just one book.

Something to make, usually consisted of legos or construction sets and as they got older it turned into some of those fun science experiment kits, crafts, or even a delicious dessert to bake. One year, my son asked to build his own computer. So we combined that into number 1 and 6.

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

Family Game Night has always been important to us, although it’s lessened significantly the older they got {tears}. But this was their way of selecting a fun game for Christmas that they could contribute to our collection of family board games. And it kept the remainder of Christmas break through New Years full of things to do.

I really love number 8 through 10! This could be a trip to their favorite museum, to see a play, ballet or musical and even a sporting event. It created several fun ways for us to do something together as a family and allow the experiences to make some lasting memories. But who was I kidding, this was a gift for me too!

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

Making gifts or baking for others and creating our own Christmas cards not only saved me money but allowed the kids to thoughtfully consider what would be the perfect gift for someone they love. Number 10 included feeding the homeless, helping at an animal shelter or other outreaches found in our church or community. And… it became another memory creator. I loved that this part of the list kept my kids so busy through the month of December that their thoughts were more geared towards others and not on themselves. This was a huge win for me!

Stockings were left for little necessities and sweet treats they didn’t usually get throughout the year. I always wrapped them up each individually, even if it was a tiny item because who doesn’t love unwrapping presents??

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

The month of December embraced my kids with yearly traditions, such as baking and decorating cookies, hot cocoa, jammies and Christmas light viewing, tree decorating, sledding and snowman building…only if it was a year we were blessed with snow. All of these activities cost little to no money and became more important to them than the actual act of receiving a gift on Christmas morning.

So this is what saved my budget year after year and allowed for lots of flexibility if needed. It freed me from my guilt as a hard working single mom. It kept me in check and kept my kids from thinking I was their personal genie, only there to grant their every wish and desire. It lessened their selfishness and opened their hearts and minds to think of others at Christmas instead of themselves. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? 

How to Afford Christmas When Money is Tight

14 weekends until Christmas. Or if you're paid every two weeks then we're 7 paychecks away! Good Lord, sweet Jesus and all that in between...are you ready?

What do you think? Is this something you feel you could easily implement with your kids? Have you done something similar? I would love to hear about it! If not, how do you stay within your Christmas budget?

 

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52 comments

  1. Like you I find myself donating every time I declutter. I so love the 10 gift rule and will follow it. We usually let them write down two things they want, Two things to share with a stranger and 2 things for their Sisters.

  2. This is such a great idea…we really suffer from too many “I wants” and not enough “I needs”. Every few months I do a sweep around the house and gather up things that are turned out to be not so wanted after all, and they get donated–mine, the kids, even the cats!

    1. Now that my kids are older and one away at college, I’m realizing I need to do a full sweep around the house more often! Thank you Daneen!

  3. I don’t celebrate christmas but i do know that feeling of overly supplied toys to kids. I used to give my kids every freaking toy they saw and at one point i realized this was not good for their emotional well being.
    I love your idea of donating the toys when new toys come in. Would try to do that with my kids.

    1. That’s exactly what got me thinking about this list for us to follow when my kids were younger. I hated seeing them want (and usually get) everything they’d see on TV or in the stores. I wanted to raise givers. Thanks and best wishes!

  4. What a beautiful thought provoking post, thanks! I’ve often struggles with the toy overdose mentality, wanting to get not give. You have some great ideas, I love the for others section of the list.

    1. Thank you, Ramon! I have one adult son now and soon to be an adult daughter and it has made all the difference in their gratitude for memories and experiences over things. Best wishes!

  5. Christmas is still a long time away, but I love the idea of instilling responsibility into my kids. The ten questions for them are great. It also help me too. I am a terrible gift giver, so the list will give me a lot of hints of what to buy.

    1. Thank you! It helped me create grateful adults (well almost they are 17 and 18 yrs old) but also saved me a ton of money and created some amazing memories!

    1. I’m all about flexibility too and yet have a guideline my kids knew I would be following for the most part. Thank Marian!

  6. Christmas is a long ways away but I love the idea! I hate clutter and my husband hates me throwing stuff away, it would be great for the kids to donate and that be apart of their Christmas every year, giving back. And I also loved the family night, I had one with my parents

  7. My children do get some of these concepts from their grandfather. I like that it’s not a bunch of toys every year. I would like them to realize they don’t need more toys and to stoprovide asking, lol.

  8. Wow we are skipping Halloween, Thanksgiving and straight to Christmas Planning lol. Its ok I pinned this because I think these are great ideas for gift planning for the holidays.

    1. Now that my kids are much older, I don’t decorate for Halloween but I’m in love with all the fall items in the stores and the colors. We always put our tree up at Thanksgiving so having up all through the fall season is heaven for me! Yes, please pin it to Pinterest. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Hailee! It has been so great for my kids, especially now that they’re much older.

  9. I fully agree with you that “Less Things, More Memories “. I really loved number 8 through 10, as it was a gift for me too. Your ideas are great and I love them!

  10. One thing I do not want is for my kids to grow up ungrateful! Like you, I feel I have so little time with them when I work two jobs and so I always seem to feel guilty. This is so perfect and takes away the pressure from spending money I don’t have. Love this on so many levels!!

  11. This is an amazing way to make sure you are giving not only quality gifts but also teaching them to not need materialistic things.

  12. We are in the midst of purging our home because we have to much stuff. Thank you for your ideas on how to ask for 10 items, but leaving room in that to still be giving to others.

  13. What a fantastic post and something that we can all really learn by. I love the list of 10 things and that there are things that are not only for the person receiving the gift but also for others. After all, Christmas is a time for GIVING as well as receiving and I think that this is forgotten especially with children. I will be using this framework for each person in my family this year. Thank you.

  14. What a great way to bring up your children and something I am going to do this Christmas. It stops them from being greedy as well as showing them that they should think of others with the last two items. I think sometimes I over buy my children things for Christmas seeing as their Father is not around but this year I am going to stop this and follow this 10 gift rule. Thanks you.

    1. Thank you, Penny! I used to overbuy as well and then suddenly our home is full of things that are never used and the clutter just gets to me. I hope it will be helpful to you!

  15. Rule 9 was one we did last Christmas as a family. It was fun, shared gifts with homeless children and We worried less about sharing gifts between ourselves.It was really great and made for a special holiday! I love this list!

    1. Thank you Candy! This list saved me so much money in years past and really made a difference in my kids lives. Thanks again for you sweet comments!

  16. I love Christmas! Its a season of love and I like gifts for me and friends. These rules are cool and I really like the way you tell a story.

  17. Wow! This is such a brilliant idea. We focus more on what we want than what we actually need. From what I know, when you give someone what they need, they will be contented.

  18. I love this idea and I guess I’ll have to put it into action during this Christmas.. thank you for sharing your 10 powerful and efficient Christmas gifts rule.

  19. This is a method that has helped me save quite an amount of money in time past. I don’t have to keep running into debt for Christmas.

  20. I think I will simply call this site “the helping hands of good women”. There are so many useful tips to explore. Thanks for this post once again and pls, keep it up and keep making our women into the perfect image they are meant to be.

  21. Really interesting!Christmas is known to take so much money from me and most of it goes into buying gifts for my kids, that they don’t use for long. I don’t want my kids to be spoiled or turn into spoiled teens then adults. This is a really great and helpful article. Thank you

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