Even if you’re not into minimalism and have desire to cut down on gift giving, the premise of our 4 gift rule alternative is rooted in sharing. We use this gift giving rule for every birthday and every Christmas. Over the last several years, I have seen a shift in my family and in how we approach holidays. And the joy, simplicity, and thankfulness I see aren’t the only reasons I believe every family should try to at least try giving one family gift to share with each other.
As kids, I loved that we did Christmas presents on Christmas Eve but saved stockings for Christmas morning. There was some differentiation there that I liked and stocking are more practical. While we haven’t done this with our new little family, the idea of having something special and unique for each and incorporating that practical aspect really inspired me to find a way to bring family together.
If you do the 4 gift rule alternative like we do, then you could easily do 3 gifts on Christmas eve and then the share on Christmas Day or some variation of it.
But if you don’t, a share gift can also be a great New Year’s tradition.
7 reasons to try a share gift for your family
Family gifts usually involve memories and experiences.
Sometimes I wonder if the day-to-day life of our home is “good enough” to elicit those warm fuzzy memories when my kids grow up. I wonder if our jokes and laughter will outweigh the drudgery of cleaning the house. Or if meaningful moments will triumph over poop and fart jokes. [Though even I remember a hilarious moment from childhood where our camera capture us trying to figure out who passed gas on our Arizona road trip. And it’s still funny decades later.]
Family culture is literally something you have to cultivate.
To really instill family togetherness and be able to all feel connected to one another takes work. The holidays have a magical feeling that if we can associate the values and memories we really value in these moments, there is so much more to share than just a family gift.
End the focus on “self” and help prevent an outcast feeling
One of the greatest blessings of the shared gift is that it’s always the last gift we give. And thus we end birthdays and Christmas not focusing on one person.
Maybe we’re still highlighting them as a part of our family, but we’re also showing that person that “here’s a gift you’ll love and something we get to enjoy with you as part of your passion.” And honestly that’s powerful!
For whatever reason, there are also high emotions during the holidays and people feel left out or that their gifts may not have been “as good” as someone else’s. The shared gift idea also helps alleviate or even eliminate this issue.
It sets the tone for the new year
Whether a Christmas gift or a New Year’s gift, having a family gift is like a reset switch. Everyone immediately starts focusing on the things that matter and that time together.
Shared gifts often inspire conversation
If it’s a puzzle, there is some serious quality time full of both quiet moments and meaningful discussions. Some of the best deep conversations have happened at our tables around a good jigsaw puzzle.
Trips, games, cooking, classes, and more all inspire talking with each other in a meaningful way. And that’s something every family should strive to find more of!
Giving a family gift is sustainable
Buying a big gift is usually less expensive than buying even several small gifts. And that’s good for the wallet, the plant, and just everything. It’s also sustainable in the idea that it’s not cumbersome. It can be as easy as pulling out a new long-lost family recipe to cook together each year. Whereas things like Elf on a Shelf aren’t sustainable because of the need to move it every single day.
Experience gifts build intimacy
Especially when children know they will be receiving a shared gift, they also start seeing their own gift giving as more than just an exchange or transaction and more of an opportunity to build a closeness with each other.
More Christmas Traditions and Resources
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!