Note: All information on this site is for educational purposes only. Happy You, Happy Family does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. About 10 years ago, we made the same change. After we lovingly buried the living room with gifts for our sons, we were embarrassed by the excess as we sat back and watched the mayhem unfold.

    We said, “that’s it.”

    The next year we began throwing all five boys’ names in a hat. Each brother picked a name out of the hat and was given a small budge. The rule was they were in charge of the gifts for that brother.

    3 gifts only, hand picked by a brother for Christmas.

    The boys were overjoyed. They out so much thought and effort each year to bless each other. It’s been incredible.

    Only one year was a gift flop. One brother bought his older brother shoe polish. Lol. But even that has been a b,easing. One of those special inside joke family things…

    We love the less I see mor tradition. But I will say, being an American out she a lot of guilt and pressure on parent. My husband and I struggled making the transition even though the kids never looked back.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We’ve discussed giving the children experiences rather than material items. For example, a pass to the zoo, ice skating rink, movie theater, etc. You can get creative with how to wrap them, so the kids still have something to open. We’ve also asked grandparents to put towards the kids college funds rather than so many gifts. Overall, it’s discussed every holiday and while some listen, it’s still a work in process.

  3. We have asked for a month (or more) of ballet class, guitar lessons, karate class, or whatever other “monthly bill” things the kids were involved in, given with a small token like an ornamnet to wrap. It becomes a double gift – lessons/classes for kid, no payment for parents!

    We have also requested family memberships to the zoo, museum, and state parks. All are great, year-long, memorable, family gifts that bless us all in lots of ways – and we can even use our memberships to take Grandma with us to the place she gets us the membership to!

  4. Good grief. There are gifts of the heart. I made all my Christmas cards — yarn, glitter, pens, ribbons, etc. I made my annual Christmas cookies, jams, and ornaments. I had Christmas bags I filled with those items. Now, I’m starting on knitting of slippers for everyone for their bags next year. Giving is a wonderful behavior to teach — and learning to receive joyfully is also a wonderful behavior to teach. Don’t give up on giving. Change what is given to be from the heart and hands, rather than the retailer.

    1. I definitely agree with your logic. Gifts are that. It’s something you want to give that person. I make quilts and love to make them . Not only that but it gives me joy to give them to whomever. It’s not the cost of something , which is what a lot of people feel it has to be. It could be a plate of their favorite cookies to share with others or a candle from dollar store because that person you are giving it to loves candles. It’s the thought and as you said, gifts of the heart.

    2. Did you not read the article? That was an entire section. And the sentiment of the whole piece is about helping kids be both grateful and generous.

    3. @sunshine Some gifts of the heart still clutter homes unnecessarily and that is what this article is about. How to try and avoid that. I think all points made here are excellent for trying to talk to loved ones about how we want to reduce material possessions in our home.

  5. shannon stoney says:

    When my son was very small, I gave him one small present a day for twelve days. Sometimes he played with a little matchbox car all day! He really enjoyed that. It was much harder stopping the enormous flow of Christmas presents from relatives. That is still a problem, 30 years later.

  6. I SO want to make this transition in our home. I think we could do it with our immediate family. However, every year we are overwhelmed with gifts from relatives. We have asked that they limit gifts or forego them altogether, but they don’t hold the same values about “stuff”. To them, more is more. They like to shop, enjoy spending money, and never ask what the kids want for Christmas. It’s always “just” one movie, one outfit, one more treat, one more toy. When you combine 2 sets of grandparents, gifts from 4 aunts/uncles, plus a handful of thoughtful friends that like to gift, it’s overwhelming. I know we are blessed to have people who love us and want to give us things, so we feel guilty complaining. But our house is TINY and there is nowhere to even store the mountain of gifts the kids receive every year.
    I like the donating gifts from extended relatives idea. My kids may even go for it. I really don’t think there’s a way to get our particular set of relatives to stop the gifts, so sending them out the back door may be the only way.

    1. Rebecca Craigie says:

      We have the same problem Karin! I would love to make the transition, but I feel like it would be a tough sell with both the extended family and the kids!I wish I I had’ve taken control of the reins years ago!

  7. Jill Sirianni says:

    I am stumbling on this a little late…it’s Christmas 2018! I am going to save this post for later. Your ideas are thoughtful and put the words right into my mouth. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have been further inspired to do this next year!

  8. This was a great list and I have already adapted number 5 and sent it to family. We don’t have kids yet, but i wanted to prevent that amount of ‘little bits’ that I received and subsequently sit in a drawer for the rest of the year. So I’ve directly all family members to making a ‘family memory book’ and asked for their photos and notes to be my stocking presents. Two birds, one stone.

    I’ll also save this article for when we have kids and I can refer back to it.

  9. We do the gift of experiences rather than things. It’s the gift that keeps on giving because it can be used throughout the year. Bowling, skating rink, paintball, hayrides, amusements, movies, etc.

  10. dodo suska says:

    And as ususal, there´s always an exception :-) My daughter received a lot of christmas presents last year (she was 9). So much, that I said to my husband: “I bet she will be overwhelmed, that is definitely too much!” Well, she cherished every single one, full of joy, everytime she unpacked a present. She also opened the presents one by one, exploring each one for a while before moving on to the next. Later on she said it was the best christmas ever. So I checked her love languages in a online test and receiving gifts was right up there with physical touch. So I guess it also depends on your child´s love language!

    1. You make a really good point here! I’m going to do this test on my kids tonight. Thank you for the reminder that every person is different.

  11. I ask for family stories that I can read or tell. Any story, just something that involves a family member. This way we get something really important to us, our family heritage through story and the family member gets to give something unique and real.

  12. What wonderful ideas, Kelly! I’ll be sharing this article with a family member who has been trying to slow the gift train at her house.

    Our kids have been asking grandparents and uncles and aunts for goats this year for a family in a third-world country. They are going to take the money they get as gifts and buy as many goats as they can. Plus the family members feel good about being a part of a good dead!

    Another of our favorite ideas for family members who really want to give something is to have everyone go in on one larger item like a bicycle. It’s practical and the child can really enjoy the one gift.

  13. I don’t have children yet, but I was one of those kids whose parents over gifted every single Christmas, birthday, Easter, etc. – every holiday! When I was in my mid-twenties, I began asking for less, and it offended my parents :\ Now that I’m 31, I’ve continued having this conversation with my parents, and although the gifts are still too many, they have greatly reduced over the years. This is the first year that my significant other will be spending the holidays with us, and my mom has said she would rather spend it just with me (i’m an only child) because she’s embarrassed by the number of gifts. Ugh! I reminded her that I don’t want for anything, and would really just enjoy spending the day playing games, but I was told I was ungrateful.

    ANYWAYS, I have thought about the way to minimize gifts for my kids when that time comes, and I love this idea of 4 gifts. One way that I thought about requesting no gifts from family is to set up a 529 plan or an investment account for my children, and asking family to contribute to that.

    1. Angela Burkey says:

      How does Santa fit into this 4 gift rule? Only four from Mom and Dad and then some from Santa?

      1. Jennifer Zobel says:

        Sure! I think Santa would get them 1 or 2 gifts, and then maybe a family gift like a game or movie.

        1. In our house santa only brings 1 gift and it is not wrapped which is why I put it under the tree right in front of the other gifts from me when the children are sleeping. And it’s not a expensive gift either it’s somthing simple like a fuzzy body pillow they had asked for or a sled. I keep it simple because I don’t want my children telling their friends all the gifts that “santa” got them because their friend may not be as lucky and I don’t want to ruin their Christmas spirit!!

      2. In our house, Santa fills stockings – no big gifts. The stockings have mostly chocolate and other candy, stickers, nail polish, markers, Pokemon cards – stuff like that. =)

      3. Debra Cox says:

        At our house, Santa fills stockings and everyone gets a book. Then, they get 3 gifts each. This year, they will get their stockings and a book from Santa and grandpa & grandma will give one nice gift each. They will also get $100 to spend on gifts such as goats, chickens or whatever they choose to 3rd world countries.

  14. You inspired me to write and Dillustrate a book about our Xmas tree. Every year I try to tell my kids the stories behind our ornaments. Who gifted them, who made them and when. Photo books are so easy to make these days and it will be a great way to pass on the memories of our family tree.

  15. What I have done for my grandkids is I send a gift certificate from and they get to choose someone to donate the money to. Through that they learn that they can make a difference in others lives and because of them someone’s life is better.

  16. I am retiring next year, and will NOT NEED anything. Nothing. Zip. Is there a letter/paragraph I could enclose in Christmas cards (I always send mine out on Nov 30th) asking that no gifts be sent and just send me a holiday card?

  17. Loving Gramma and Grampa far away says:

    We are guilty grandparents. We have over gifted every year (one 5 y/o grandson, will never have more). Our kids have asked us to send no gifts this year, for any of them. We respect and understand. They are not materialistic and kiddo has enough toys for any dozen boys. At the same time, we are in the far north corner of the US and they are on the Gulf Coast. We cannot visit this year for Christmas, but would definitely like to find a way to share something with them. Suggestions?

  18. I don’t have children of my own, but I have nieces and nephews whom I love so much. If my sister told me to never gift them anything, it would break my heart. I feel like I get to be a part of their lives, making something a little magical for them. Whether I’m gifting them an experience with their favorite aunt (ahem), or buying them something I know they’ve been dreaming about, well, I just want to be that little spark of magic in their lives. Enjoy it. Because someday it’ll end. Grandparents pass away, children grow up… so just relish every bit of clutter.

  19. Great Ideas. For the grandparents and great-grandparents that my child sees frequently, I told them any toys they gift will stay at their house for him to play with when he visits. I much prefer this because it gives me control of what I have at my home. For more extended family, we do a secret Santa for all the children. Everyone gives 1 gift, and gets 1 gift. It works out great and I love it!