Simplified and Intentional Gift Giving

I will admit that as a kid one of the best things about Christmas was the presents. Now as an adult, I still enjoy receiving a thoughtful gift but I also enjoy thinking of the perfect gift to give.

Gifts aren’t necessarily my spiritual gift, quality time is, but I really do love to think through each family member’s personality or preference and think of a gift that is well suited for them. And while I don’t exactly enjoy shopping, in general, I do enjoy the joy of shopping for gifts.

Now that I’m a parent, I think the process of gift giving is, even more, fun!

Even though my kids are still young, it’s fun to think through their likes and choose a few gifts that I know they would love to play with and receive. However, I have noticed over the past few years that sometimes gift giving can become a big, elaborate ordeal. My kids were receiving large amounts of presents from generous grandparents on top of the gifts that we were giving them. Christmas day was starting to feel like a shower of presents rather than celebrating Jesus’ birth.

Eliminate stress and reduce the budget by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas with simplified and intentional gift giving this year. Give thoughtful and meaningful gifts based around the 3 gift principle. |

So I decided to approach this holiday season with the mindset that we were going to focus on simplified and intentional gift giving,  meaning that we going to scale back. My kids are still young so I knew that I was going to do this it would be best to initiate this tradition now. It also just makes sense, since we are focusing on having an intentional Christmas season anyway through our family Advent countdown.

So what does it mean to focus on simplified and intentional gift giving?

A Want, a Need, & Spiritual Gift {plus a Gift to Read}

I have seen it floating around the blog-o-sphere the idea of 3 gifts for your kids- a want, a need, a spiritual gift and because I’m a book lover, a gift to read. So yes technically that is four gifts but this year their spiritual gift is something that they will share.

We also do stockings, even though we really don’t focus on Santa. I just have always loved the idea of giving small, practical gifts in stockings and as a kid opening my stocking on Christmas morning was such a fun tradition.

Stockings are great for those little necessities and practical gifts that really don’t fit in one of the above categories. Check out my list of favorite stocking stuffer ideas that are practical, useful but still loads of fun!

So what about the rest of their gifts?

The idea of simplified and intentional gift-giving comes from the three gifts that Jesus received from the wise men.

Our culture has definitely turned away from this simple mindset of gift giving but it is something that I want to get back to with my family. So this is what simplified and intentional gift giving will look like for our family this year.

Eliminate stress and reduce the budget by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas with simplified and intentional gift giving this year. Give thoughtful and meaningful gifts based around the 3 gift principle. |

A Want

This is usually the fun gift. My kids are young so a toy falls into this category but I realize as they get older and their preferences become a tad more expensive (purchasing a bike for my son in the next few years comes to mind) we will have to adjust our budget and gift giving philosophy.

My kids enjoying drawing, coloring, cutting and all things craft related. So one year for their fun gift we purchased an art easel that has both a chalkboard and a whiteboard! It will be a present that all my kids will enjoy over the years.

I’m actually most excited about the gift we are giving my daughter since it is something that I used to play with as a little girl. She will be receiving a cherished wooden doll cradle for her baby, the same one that I loved and played with as a child. It’s still in good condition all I had to add was a new blanket and pillow and it is good to go!

A Need

The need gift is exactly what it sounds like, something they need. It’s practical yet I still try to keep it fun.

For my son he really needs a new set of sheets for his bed, and what is more fun to a three-year-old than truck sheets? Amelia will be getting some new dishes for meal time since our current set of toddler safe dishes are pretty worn out.

Again both of these gifts are things that we will use for years to come and are practical, but I try to keep them fun too. I’ll let Amelia “play” with the dishes on Christmas morning before I wash them to use at mealtime and by then she will be so distracted with other things she won’t even know they are gone 🙂 And as I mentioned above, since Silas is obsessed with all things trucks, he will love sleeping on his new sheets for the remainder of the cold winter.

A Spiritual Gift


There are so many great gifts to purchase to encourage them to grow their faith, from Bibles, devotional books, games, toys, and music.

Last year my kids loved receiving these Old & New Testament wooden puzzle cubes and creation stacking blocks. They play with them all the time and we have had so many great conversations about the illustrations.

This year I put together this massive list of over 90+ ideas for gifts to grow their faith as I was researching what to get each of my children.

A Gift to Read

I can’t NOT give my kids a new book or two, it just goes against everything I stand for 😉

What I love about giving books as gifts, is that even though I am giving each one of my children a specific book, we will all enjoy them as we read together. I love adding thoughtful books to our kids growing book collection.

When we have been at the library I have noticed that my son has gravitated towards the Pete the Cat books but since they are so popular the library is currently not checking them out. In his preschool class they have been reading the books and singing the songs quite frequently and one day he was pretty much reciting the story verbatim to Amelia. So when I saw that in his monthly book club order his school sends home there was a set of the Pete and Cat books for less than $10, I quickly ordered it! I know he will love it.

I have been seeing and reading reviews of God Made Light from several different blogs, so I used one of the Black Friday coupon codes from DaySpring to purchase the book for a discount. I recently received it in the mail and after flipping through it, I can’t wait to read it together as a family. It will be a cherished book for years to come!

What About Everyone Else?

While we did communicate with the grandparents we would like to simplify gift giving for the kids, it is ultimately their choice what they purchase for the kids. Hopefully, they will follow our lead.

As for purchasing gifts for family members, I am a big fan of photo gifts, especially for grandparents. I’m always stalking Shutterfly’s page for coupon codes for free or discounted calendars, coffee mugs, photo books and other gifts. There is usually always a discount code, especially this time of year.

We also do a Secret Santa exchange with the extended family so that way we are only purchasing one gift instead of several. It’s a fun tradition, especially when we try and figure out who has who. There are usually lots of laughs during our grown-up Secret Santa gift exchange and honestly, I don’t miss the pressure to buy everyone a gift. That has truly simplified the gift-giving among us significantly!

All in all, I spent less money than budgeted this year and I was able to complete ALL of my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my home computer (with the exception of picking up some stocking stuffers). I feel pretty good about how I was able to truly narrow my focus down to a few thoughtful gifts instead of trying to come up with several different ideas and THEN try to fit those all into my budget.

How do you approach gift giving with your family? Do you follow the 3 gift principle too? Or do you have another simplified gift giving method? 

Eliminate stress and reduce the budget by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas with simplified and intentional gift giving this year. Give thoughtful and meaningful gifts based around the 3 gift principle. |

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  1. I love this idea! You’re definitely smart to start this tradition while your kids are young. I would love to simplify our Christmas celebration a bit, but with older kids, we’ve already established expectations. I don’t want to make them feel like we’re taking something away from their Christmas. It’s so hard to strike the right balance between presents under the tree and celebrating the ultimate gift of Jesus’ birth!

  2. Great idea to start early! My oldest is 3 and I already feel overwhelmed when grandparents or friends ask what she needs/wants for birthdays/Christmas. My youngest doesn’t need anything because we still have all the age specific toys and clothes that are in great shape. I’m constantly donating stuff because grandparents give a little too freely (despite polite protests).
    The secret Santa is also a wonderful idea! I wish we could implement that with my dad’s family. I have 3 stepsisters and Christmas has become a circus over there. It’s become about who gave the best, most expensive presents. The kids throw fits if it’s not exactly what they want. My nephew (10 years old) literally threw a brand new Nintendo DS across the room because he asked for a PS Vita.

    1. I’m so sorry you have to deal with all that from your family, it certainly makes the holidays so stressful. Something I though of after I wrote this post was to include experience gifts. For example my mother buys a season pass to the zoo for the kids every year. It’s a clutter free gift that they enjoy all year long, and my mom loves it too because she loves taking them to the zoo and they get to enjoy that special time together. Perhaps you could suggest something similar to the grandparents 🙂

  3. I love this post because we are doing the same thing. For other people I make the gifts every year, (which always goes well) and for the children they get what they need. (Too young to tell us what they want)
    Have a Merry Christmas.

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