Shopping for the holidays puts many people under additional stress: from spending money they don’t have, to long wish lists from kids or family members, to the time it takes to fulfill these desires-turned-demands.
My first suggestion is to trim your gift-giving list. In our family, we went from buying presents for 15 people to just the kids, which was initially 4, and grew to be 6, but is still much more reasonable. Also, my husband and I don’t exchange gifts as we take a trip for our anniversary the next month, and his birthday is right around Christmas, so he gets a birthday gift, which is usually an experience (comedy club, weekend trip, performing arts event).
To trim things even further, use The Rule of 4. I didn’t make this up, but I sure love it. Here’s how it works: Every person that you intend to buy gifts for gets only 4 things:
Something you need.
Something you want.
Something to read.
Something to wear.
For a 12 year old child, this could mean: a graphing calculator for school, a video game, a biography about their favorite sports star, and a nice shirt.
For a 4 year old child: finger paints and paper, a special toy, a book about their favorite animal, and new pajamas.
For a teenager: a piece of luggage with a special slot for their laptop, a new laptop (hidden inside the luggage?), a book by their favorite author – or one that you loved at that age, and a leather jacket.
You’re not limited by amount spent in this way, but it will cause you to be a more creative giver and your recipients will have less “filler” or “junk” items that will eventually get broken and tossed out. You’ll save yourself countless dollars in the impulse-buy section of the checkout lane on things that are “so cute and just $5”, and your gifts will be more thoughtful. Win, win!