When my children were young, there was a financially tight year where I could only manage to spend $5 per kid for Christmas. What could I possibly get for $5 per kid that would make for a happy Christmas morning?
About the same time I either heard or read about a family that limited the Christmas gifts in their family to only three since Jesus received three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I decided that buying three gifts would be a great challenge with my low budget. As I was shopping for the three gifts, I found myself wanting to vary the kinds of gifts I gave and so I started “something you need, something to read, and something for fun.” These categories gave some purposeful meaning to what little I could buy with my $5 per kid limit.
That was 8 years ago. Now I have more than $5 to spend per kid, but each year I have stuck to the three categories.
Something You Need
One year I found bathrobes on sale to give to the kids. Once I got my crafty son some Scotch tape since he always needed it for crafts (and I needed him to have his own, too, so he didn’t keep using mine!)
Other ideas from past years: flashlights, hair care kit with a new hairbrush, hair spray, hair gel, and hair accessories, new desk chair (this was a great score from Craigslist!)
Something to Read
Most of the time, this means books. Usually I buy used so I can give more for less. I can find inexpensive used books at a library book sale or yard sale. If I want something in particular, betterworldbooks.com has some great sales usually less than $4 per book and free shipping. Ollies Bargain Outlet has a great book section as well.
I don’t always give just one book. Sometimes it’s a pile of books or a series. For my daughter who struggles with reading, I often do a coffee table book so there are lots of pictures. Last year her book was a celebration of the life of Princess Diana. But you don’t need to do a book. My husband gave me a Kindle e-reader one year. You could do a magazine or newspaper subscription.
Something for Fun
The first year, I made teddy bears with supplies I already had. This went a long way for me keeping in my budget! My kids are still young enough that “something for fun” usually means a toy. Legos are a big hit. And dolls are great for my girls. Opening just one toy means that particular toy is cherished on Christmas morning!
As the kids get older, the “something for fun” will branch out beyond toys. And I can take into consideration each one’s personal definition of fun.
I’ve heard of other families doing something similar and adding on more categories like “something to wear.” Some friends also give “something to do” meaning a game or craft kit. Maybe you have an idea of a category that would fit your family!
“Something you need, something to read, something for fun” gives me a simple plan to follow for Christmas shopping and giving. It’s also a subtle way to point to the Savior who is the original receiver of three Christmas gifts and the ultimate gift giver.
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