The Four Gift Christmas Tradition: Christmas with a Toddler

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Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Samantha Flores

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”

-Bob Hope

Christmas is a time when we give to others and find ourselves with gifts in return. This is a loving time of the year and many want to shower their loved ones with gifts, especially our children. We want to give them the jolliest, brightest, and happiest Christmas! We find this joy in their eyes on Christmas morning.

While doing a little home reorganization a couple weekends ago, I found many of my son’s toys scattered everywhere. We found them underneath couches and hidden in corners of a room. Some toys just hadn’t been touched in a couple of months. I decided to do a little purge and get rid of some toys, plus put other toys away in storage as a way to declutter our home.

Now that our home is a little less chaotic with toys everywhere, I started to wonder. Surely, I am going to dread any gifts that my son receives for Christmas.

My son is only going to be two years old when Christmas comes this year. However, there are many toys that will be marketed for his age group once all the holiday sales start happening.

The thought of more toys coming into our home made me shudder. I began thinking of ways we could prevent this from happening. This led me to consider implementing the four gift Christmas tradition!

The Four Gift Christmas Tradition

I was introduced to the four gift Christmas tradition by my cousin who is also raising a baby boy. The idea for the four gift Christmas tradition is to make your family happy with less.

My son is not old enough to remember a time when Christmas meant an abundance of gifts under the tree. Therefore, I thought that incorporating the tradition this year would help to start a tradition of gratitude and humbleness as he grows older.

The four gift Christmas tradition suggests that you buy your child(ren) something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. You can incorporate this tradition for all members of the family; not just the child(ren), if you wanted!

Following this tradition means all areas of desire and need will be met. In addition, you will be putting something fun under the tree!

Four Gift Christmas: How can you implement a new tradition into your family while instilling gratitude and humbleness? Check out this Christmas hack to find out how to save your sanity from clutter and unnecessary spending!
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Why Would You Follow the Four Gift Christmas Tradition?

The four gift Christmas tradition checks a lot of boxes for my family. It helps in keeping our home less cluttered from all the toys our son could potentially receive for the holiday. Toys that will honestly lose their sparkle in a few days or weeks.

It keeps our family on a budget for the holiday season. We all know how quickly we can swipe that credit card for frivolous purchases just to add another gift under the tree.

And it also shows my son that the meaning behind Christmas isn’t just about getting gifts! If anything else, this is most important to me for my son to acknowledge that happiness isn’t gained by getting a bunch of gifts.

What If Other Family Members Want to Buy Gifts for my Child?

My son is the only grandchild on my side of the family and then he is grandchild number five on my husband’s side. However, he is the only grandchild that lives close to my husband’s side of the family while the other grandchildren live in another country.

That being said, he is the highlight of his grandparents’ lives! He isn’t spoiled quite yet, but he is very much loved. Implementing the four gift Christmas tradition might be a little challenging for his grandparents to understand.

However, I want to make sure that we stand our ground with this new tradition that we want to implement. If we have family members who really want to shower our son for Christmas, then we will be asking for contributions towards the gifts we are getting him or they can donate to his savings account.

There is no straight answer to this question. Maybe you’ll follow the direction my family is taking. Or maybe you’ll find that you don’t mind a couple extra gifts from others. The choice is yours.

Ultimately, whatever gifts your child receives from others will make their way back to your home. Therefore, the attempt to declutter might not work if extra gifts are allowed.

What Types of Gifts Can You Purchase Using the Four Gift Christmas Tradition?

Something They Want

Since my son isn’t old enough to tell us what he wants, this gift will be something his father and I choose that we think he will like. This will most likely be some kind of entertainment item.

For older children, you can have them write their wish list or their Santa list and choose an item off that list to purchase for them. This way, you have an idea of what they are hoping for and it’s less work for you to have to try and figure it out.

Something They Need

My toddler always seems to be in need of shoes! He is growing like a weed so I anticipate he will need a new pair of shoes for Christmas.

Again, for older children you can have them write a list of what they need such as a backpack, a dresser for their room, a watch, or new cover for their phone.

Something To Wear

Pajamas are so fun to get for Christmas given all the designs that are out there. I am a huge Disney fan so I will most likely be searching for a Disney pajama set for my son!

Other options include a new outfit for school or a new dress for special occasions. Of course, if your child is old enough then have them write a list of wearable items that they would desire to be waiting for them under the Christmas tree!

Something To Read

My son loves reading! He isn’t without having a library in our home. Therefore, I think he will enjoy most any book he gets for Christmas as long as it catches his attention.

Books that seem to really draw my son’s attention are pop-up books and books about trucks or animals. Luckily we can combine those engagement points into one and get him something like Pop-Up Peekaboo! Things that Go: Pop-Up Surprise Under Every Flap.

Older children might appreciate a novel or a series to read during their down time.

Four Gift Christmas: How can you implement a new tradition into your family while instilling gratitude and humbleness? Check out this Christmas hack to find out how to save your sanity from clutter and unnecessary spending!
Photo by Samantha Flores of

Is Santa Incorporated?

This is up to the discretion of the parents. Right now, I don’t have experience in this area since my son is still so small.

However, I have seen others who have shared their experience with giving the four gifts PLUS a Santa gift. On the other hand, some families prefer to make the “Something They Want” gift be from Santa. Totally up to you!

What Do You Think About the Four Gift Christmas Tradition?

This seems like a new tradition that is coming about. However, I’m still considered a new parent so anything holiday related is new to me at this point.

Therefore, I want to know your thoughts! Is this a new concept to you? Have you implemented the four gift Christmas tradition in your home? What is your experience with incorporating this new tradition? Do you have any tips you would give new parents like me for implementing this tradition? Please let me know in the comments below!

Samantha <3

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  1. Itzel

    July 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve heard of this gift method and I think it’s such a nice way for kids to appreciate what they have received!

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      I agree, Itzel! When children receive an abundance of gifts, then tend to become overwhelmed and possible take for granted the meaning behind the holiday. The four gift Christmas tradition is a great way for children to find value in the gifts they receive as well as appreciate the gifts. I am hopeful that my family finds success in implementing the four gift Christmas tradition in our home this Christmas! Thank you for reading!

  2. Sanjota Purohit

    July 1, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Very different and good concept. Most of the times we end buying more and unnecessary gifts.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Thank you, Sanjota! I agree that we tend to over buy items that end up being clutter after a short time. The fur gift Christmas tradition gives the holiday season more of a focus on family and gratefulness rather than making the season all about the gifts. I know with my son, he tends to play with the boxes the toy comes in rather than playing with the toy itself. It can be overwhelming and overstimulating for children to receive so many gifts. Hopefully my family finds success in implementing the four gift Christmas tradition this Christmas. Thank you for reading!

  3. TheKitchenDoc

    July 1, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    I really like the idea of four gift Christmas tradition

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks, TheKitchenDoc! It really resonated with me when I researched the topic. It gives Christmas more of a focus on family and gratefulness rather than just the gift giving part. Too many gifts tend to build clutter and can be a waste sometimes. I appreciate your input and thank you for reading my post on the four gift Christmas tradition!

  4. lexieanimetravel

    July 1, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I didn’t know that there’s four gift christmas tradition, this sounds really fun to do and of course children will be very greatful of this.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:16 pm

      I had not heard of the four gift Christmas tradition before either! It really resonated with me when I researched the topic. It gives Christmas more of a focus on family and gratefulness rather than just the gift giving part. Too many gifts tend to build clutter and can be a waste sometimes. I appreciate your input and thank you for reading!

  5. kendracase17

    July 1, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    I love the four gift idea! I might have to incorporate this with my family (although we are all grown up now lol)!

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      The four gift Christmas tradition can go for families of all ages and sizes! My husband and I are considering using this tradition for ourselves as well. Adults get gifts sometimes too that end up being more clutter than useful. Sometimes we want to show others how much they mean to us, but we can do this with less gifts as well. I loved the four gift Christmas tradition when I heard of it as well! Hopefully others find value in this tradition, too. Thanks for reading!

  6. jessicadepasquale

    July 1, 2019 at 12:28 am

    I love this idea! I watched my nephew get literally dozens of presents and he chose a small toy dog to play with for the entire day – didn’t touch the rest of the toys. Kids are so simple – less is better!

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      So true, Jessica! I’ve seen many kids do the same where they would rather play with the box the toy came in instead of playing with the actual toy itself. It’s true; less is better! When kids have too many options, sometimes it is just overwhelming and overstimulating for them. That is why the four gift Christmas tradition is something we want to implement in my family. Aside from the unnecessary clutter, kids really don’t need that much to begin with! Thank you for reading!

  7. tcleland88

    July 1, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I think this is a great concept, especially for those Santa gifts. My grandchildren get so very many gifts on their birthdays and at Christmas. They have more toys than they need. Even I overbuy for them.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you for your input! I think we all get a little more excited for gift giving on Christmas and might splurge more than we should. But it is out of love! However, you are right, kids generally get more gifts than they need; especially toys. The saying, “Less is more,” ring true for this concept. I hope others find value in the four gift Christmas tradition as well. This will be our first year implementing this tradition. Hopefully we hold true to our promise! Thank you for reading!

  8. ansh997x

    June 30, 2019 at 2:27 am

    This sounds like a fun tradition. I like how it is centered around spreading knowledge and avoids useless things that won;t be used ever.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:58 pm

      I appreciate the feedback, ansh997x! I also liked that it was based less on the possession of things that won’t be used much. These items end up causing more clutter than necessary. I appreciate the thoughtfulness from others giving gifts. However, I am hoping to spread more awareness about alternative Christmas traditions by sharing this four gift Christmas tradition. Thank you for reading!

  9. Juliet Amo

    June 29, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    You’re already leading us into the Christmas season with all these post

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      Ha! I know, Juliet! 😉 It seems early, but the stores are already having Christmas items on the shelves before the fourth of July celebrations so I figured I wasn’t too far off with the idea of writing this four gift Christmas tradition post. This is just something for others to use when considering Christmas gifts this year. Thanks for reading!

  10. Vetta

    June 29, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    Last year I had a plan to do just this… and failed! I brought everything in the nook & I have five kiddos. Needless to say, this year we keep affording to buy gifts after gifts. Since we have a bigger family, grandparents don’t go crazy on gifts LOL

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      What a big family, Vetta! I know having a plan doesn’t always work and sometimes, as the parents, we get a little too excited to shower our children! Hopefully my family is able to stick to the plan this year. If not, we can certainly make adjustments to our four gift Christmas tradition. I’m sure my son’s grandparents would go crazy with the gifts if we don’t have some sort of limit. In the end, Christmas is about being with your loved ones! I appreciate your input.

  11. vivirewellness

    June 29, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    We are Hispanic and also have our own Navidad traditions. It is so awesome to pass on these traditions down generations.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:24 pm

      I love this, vivirewellness! My husband’s side is Hispanic and my side is half-Hispanic so I understand those traditions for sure. It’s a challenge to implement all traditions, but we do our best. Hopefully our implementation of the four gift Christmas tradition this year doesn’t interfere too much with the other traditions our families have. I appreciate your input!

  12. Matija Antonić

    June 29, 2019 at 9:55 am

    This looks like a fun thing to do, of course you can’t just say to somebody that they shouldn’t get gifts, especially the grandparents, they enjoy it so much, but yea telling it like, well the grandchild would really like this book, or the grandchild expressed joy and need about a certain thing, this might just be the new thing that catches on 😀

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks for reading, Matija! I agree that it will be challenging for grandparents to accept. Since this will be the first year that we implement the four gift Christmas tradition, I know there will be some adjustments that we will have to make so that everyone has an enjoyable holiday season. We will have to think of ways to make it work for everyone. I appreciate your input!

  13. Elizabeth O

    June 29, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Every christmas, I usually give gifts that I know they really want. The sparkle in their eyes when they open it is just heartwarming.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you for reading, Elizabeth! This is exactly what we look forward to for those Christmas mornings. The sparkle in children’s eyes make it all worth it. Therefore, the four gift Christmas tradition works for my family so that we still get those heartwarming moments while also instilling gratefulness in my son’s heart. I want him to have that experience of opening gifts on Christmas morning, but I also don’t want him to think that Christmas is just about the gifts. I appreciate your input!

  14. Martin - MPG TRAVEL TOURS

    June 28, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    To me Christmas is about family. Presents are nice, but I find an act of kindness is worth a lot more in the long run. keeping it simple and spending times with your love ones is what makes Christmas amazing.

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, Martin! I know many in our society who make Christmas about the gifts and while that is exciting, this isn’t the message we want to instill in my son. The four gift Christmas tradition is just an option for us to still celebrate the season while making sure we aren’t just making it about the stuff. I love the idea about an act of kindness- maybe this could be something we incorporate into our Christmas tradition when my son is older. Possibly giving to charity, serving at a food bank, etc. Do you have any suggestions on how or where we could get our child involved in distributing acts of kindness?

  15. Eastern Heart Western Mind

    June 28, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I love this. Sadly it’s taken us more than a decade to become a minimalist family, but these days we spend more on experiences than things, and bdays/xmas is no longer overrun with stuff. What a difference it’s made!

    1. Samantha Flores

      July 9, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks so much, Eastern Heart Western Mind! Since my son is still young, we are trying to instill the minimalist idea now versus trying to change things later on when it would be more challenging. If he learns to appreciate what he has now, it will make life better in the long run, right? I’m glad your family has taken to spending on experiences rather than gifts! That sounds like a wonderful trade-off. The four gift Christmas tradition really helps us evaluate what is most important during the holiday season. I appreciate your input!

  16. Debbie Mcmannis

    June 22, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    I agree with this for the gifts under the tree Christmas morning or eve. But, If you don’t allow close family to buy gifts it may diminish their joy. Tell grandparents that books are preferred or something that was their favorite gift as a child. Or tell grandma that Jr really wants that fancy new stroller you want.

    1. Samantha Flores

      June 26, 2019 at 11:47 pm

      Thank you for the suggestions, Debbie! I agree, some grandparents could potentially feel put-out by this tradition. That’s the beauty of traditions! Sometimes we try things that work and sometimes they don’t. The four gift Christmas tradition seems to be a new tradition that is circulating and I hope it works for us. I am sure we will have to improvise a bit just in case. Good thing my son is still small enough that we can still use him as our guinea pig! I appreciate your thoughts on the four gift Christmas tradition! 🙂

      1. ZyraKuma

        June 28, 2019 at 4:19 pm

        I definitely agree with the four gifts. The best thing about Christmas is soending time with your family.

        1. Samantha Flores

          July 9, 2019 at 7:08 pm

          Thank you for reading, Zyra! I agree, Christmas is about spending time with your family. The four gift Christmas tradition will be a way for my family to ensure that we aren’t making Christmas be just about the gifts under the tree. We are already thankful for what we have; let’s celebrate the season of family and time together. I appreciate your input and I am glad you also agree with the four gift Christmas tradition idea!

Let me know your thoughts!