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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Simplify Gift Giving with the Four Gift Rule

Dec 04, 2013 02:49AM ● By Meredith Montgomery

Everyone loves opening a great present or the gratification of giving a well-received gift. But too often, the meaning of family gift exchanges is watered down by sheer extravagance. It’s easy for parents to go overboard with holiday shopping when faced with extensive wish lists and tempted by copious toy aisles. For many, implementing the “four gift rule” can help rein in spending and refocus the whole family on the true spirit of the season. The philosophy is simple: in addition to Santa’s delivery, each child is given something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need.


The Knowles family, in Mobile, Alabama, turned to the four gift rule last year to focus more on family and giving to others during the holidays. When the concept was presented to her five children, Kimberly Knowles expected to hear heavy sighs and moans of disapproval. She recalls, “We talked to them about the nature of giving and the spirit of Christmas. I presented the four gift rule as a poem to them to help them with their Christmas list and was pleasantly surprised by their favorable attitude toward simplifying Christmas and keeping the gift-giving to a minimum.”


Because the four gift rule can greatly reduce the amount of gifts being given, parents might fear disappointment from their kids on Christmas morning. In the Knowles household, the approach made gift-giving more meaningful.


Kimberly explains, “Not only had our children put a lot of thought into their Christmas lists, but we really focused on the individual needs and wants of each of our children. After all the gifts were opened, the kids exclaimed that the four gift rule was a great idea. The joy of what they had received was not about the quantity, but about the quality and thoughtfulness of the gift, something I definitely wanted to impart to my children.”


Meredith Montgomery is the publisher of Natural Awakenings Mobile/Baldwin. Connect at

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