That magical time of year is almost here and as much joy and wonder it may bring to our children it also means the start of a spending frenzy and sometimes a completely over indulgent time of the year for many kids.
The holidays can be stressful
All over Bangkok you will see stressed parents trying to find the perfect gift, dashing around like a very harassed Mrs. Claus ticking off their child’s wish list, which grow ever more ambitious as the years progress. If you set yourself a precedent of piles of gifts each year eager for those Christmas Day smiles, how does that exactly translate when the pile diminishes and the latest iPhone box is the size of a box of chocolates but with a much heftier price tag!
Sometimes less is more. Do they really need to get EVERYTHING on their wish list? Do they even expect it or is it just parents trying to be the perfect elf without realising that we are setting our kids up to expect everything and not understand one of the vital rules in life, “we don’t always get everything we want.”
Does that mean you’r a Grinch or a bad parent or taking the joy out of Christmas? Not at all.
For those wanting to stop the unnecessary spending over the festive period the latest trend is the “four-gift rule” that is saving parents both time and money and can be dressed up in any manner of exciting packages. Rather than piles of presents stacked up under your Christmas tree, only for your kids to loose interest by the 10th present; and have completely forgotten what and who they received presents from by Boxing Day, parents are advocating purchasing just four gifts.
The Four Gift Rule
So here is how it works and how the four present rule is becoming a game changer. Parents but their children just 4 gifts that each fit into this category.
- Something they want. Either from their letter to Santa or wish list.
- Something they need. Maybe a new bag or headphones a set of homemade tickets for movies throughout the year.
- Something they wear. A new party dress or football boots or for teens a gift voucher to their favourite store.
- Something they read! This one is endless and preferably in hard copy.
According to Misha Mody, founder of NeeNoo. “In a time when most parents are concerned about consumerism and the impact of waste, it makes sense to extend this idea to our Christmas purchasing behaviour.”
“The new four gift rule will look after all elements that is important for a child; play, practicality, physical care and psyche. It allows parents to spend a little bit more time thinking about the suitability of each gift, and perhaps even invest more than normal on these items to buy four, really meaningful gifts.”
Positive parenting coach, Anisa Lewis believes there are many other advantages to the four-gift rule too.
“This time of year is mad, impulse buying, potentially buying gifts you can ill afford or you know are going to be forgotten about come January 1st.” She recommends the rule to parents she works with and claims the main plus-point is allowing everyone to make good decisions about needs rather than wants.
“Our children are growing up in a world of ‘instant gratification’ so it is a good for them to need to think more deeply about the value of gifts not only the money side but also the thinking around why we give gifts and the intention behind it,” she explains.
Parenting expert Estelle Keeber, co-founder of the Mums in Business Association agrees that the rule allows children the opportunity to really think about what they need, rather than just what they want and encourages them to appreciate the act of giving.
“Allowing them the want and need gives them the chance to differentiate which is super important for development,” she explains.
“Christmas should be a time for sharing caring and compassion and the 4 gift rule encompasses this perfectly. It also enables you to budget better, as it reduces the need for big, flashy gifts,” she adds.
As this idea is becoming more and more popular it opens up many opportunities to discuss ‘wants vs needs’ with your children. It also encourages parents to look at spending more time, to make cherished memories, rather than spending unnecessary amounts of money.
Less time, money and more sustainable
As well as saving parents time and money, the four gift rule is also more sustainable, considering most of the presents will likely end up being stuffed in the forgotten toy cupboards or wardrobes within a few weeks after Christmas anyway. Try and have a zero waste Christmas wherever possible.
Whatever gifts you choose, whatever they are wrapped in and the sentiment behind them, remember that overwhelming research indicates it’s the time and special memories that are created at this time of year that are embedded in children’s minds, long after the latest Disney toy or Xbox game has been forgotten.