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5 Gift Rule for Christmas: Why You Need To Try It

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Has your Christmas shopping gotten out of control in the past? Are you looking for a way to simplify, save money, and reduce stress this holiday season? 

What if this year, you challenge yourself to only buy 5 gifts per child? You may have heard about the 4 gift rule for Christmas, but this challenge is based on the 5 gift rule.

Woman holding a pile of Christmas gifts, looking overwhelmed

What is the 4 gift rule for Christmas?

The 4 gift rule is the idea of getting each child only 4 gifts. They each get something they:

  1. Want
  2. Need
  3. Wear
  4. Read

What is the 5 gift rule for Christmas?

The 5 gift rule expands on the 4 gift rule to include an experience gift or something to do, usually together with family. So the 5 gifts are something they:

  1. Want
  2. Need
  3. Wear
  4. Read
  5. Experience

Why you should try the 5 gift rule challenge

  1. It simplifies shopping and reduces stress.
  2. Most kids don’t need more toys… and their grandmas/grandpas/aunts/uncles are going to buy them toys anyway!
  3. It helps to keep your holiday spending under control by giving a limit.
  4. Your family can spend more quality time together by enjoying the fun experience gifts.

What Gifts Should You Get for the 5 Gift Rule for Christmas?

You might be wondering what to get your children for their 5 gifts. Here’s a helpful list of ideas for each of the 5 categories.

Want: Gift Ideas

You probably don’t need gift ideas for this category. Most kids are very vocal about all the things they want! Here are some of the things that fit into this category:

  • Video games
  • Cars & Trucks
  • Legos
  • Electronic Devices
  • Dolls
  • Action Figures
  • Character Toys

Need: Gift Ideas

The needs category can be a little trickier to find good gifts. You want it to be something that is useful, but still a fun gift for the child.

You also have to know what things your own child will think are fun. For example, my daughter would get a kick out of a new water bottle, while my son would think that was so boring. He’d love a flashlight, though!

Here are some things that you might consider a “need” that can still be fun:

  • Sports equipment
    • Baseball glove
    • Soccer ball
    • Basketball
    • Bike helmet
    • Duffel bag
    • Dance leotard
  • Art supplies
    • Sketchbooks
    • Markers
    • Colored Pencils
    • Paints
  • Musical
    • Carrying case for musical instrument
    • Music stand
    • A tote bag to carry their supplies to lessons
    • Books of music to play
  • School-related
    • Backpacks
    • Pens and pencils
    • Notebooks
  • Travel items
    • Suitcase or overnight bag
    • Sleeping bag
    • Toiletry bag
  • Bedding / Linens
    • Reading pillow (pillow with arms)
    • Special throw blanket
    • Fun bedding for their bedroom
  • Cups & Water Bottles
    • Yeti style cups
    • Tervis cups
    • Water bottles
  • Cases to protect things they already have
    • Tablet or phone cases
    • A case for portable video games
  • Umbrella
  • Flash Light


Like the needs category, you have to know which of these things will be fun for your kid. My son’s favorite items are baseball hats and sports sweatshirts. My daughter is in love with fuzzy pajamas and slippers.

Here are some gift ideas for things to wear:

  • Sweatshirt
  • Sports jersey
  • Character shirts
  • Fun socks
  • Pajamas
  • Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Apron for cooking
  • Smock for art
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses


For the read category, most people think of fiction. Fiction is great, but there are so many more options out there! Reading of all types is beneficial to kids, so encourage whatever they’re interested in.

Here are some fun gift ideas in the read category:

  • Picture book
  • Book with fun facts
  • Animal book
  • Classic children’s series
  • Nature guide book
  • Instructional book (how to draw, etc)
  • Biography
  • World record book
  • Comic book
  • Video game book
  • Magazine subscription
  • E-book subscription
  • Graphic novel
Happy girl with Christmas Gift

Experience: Gift Ideas

How Do I Wrap Experience Gifts?

One of the biggest concerns with giving experience gifts is how to wrap them. Everyone wants a fun pile of presents under the tree!

Here are 4 ways to wrap experience gifts:

  1. Use a picture frame. Purchase a picture frame and insert a picture of the place you’re going. Wrap up the picture frame. After you go on your experience, you can add a picture of you enjoying your adventure together for a fun keepsake!
  2. Use the box-in-a-box-in-a-box method. Wrap up a brochure or printed information about the experience in a small box. Then wrap that box inside a bigger box. Wrap that second box inside a third box. You get the idea! I’ve done this before and the kids love it. The more random the boxes are the better! Shoe boxes, food boxes, shipping boxes, etc.
  3. Do a treasure hunt. Wrap a box with a clue in it under the tree. The clue should give a hint about where to find the next clue. Lead them all around the house to different clues until they finally find the tickets or information about the experience gift. It makes finding the experience gift an experience in itself!
  4. Purchase a small gift to wrap up. Most experience gifts lend themselves to a small accessory gift that you can wrap up. Check out the list of ideas below with links to accompanying small gifts.

Fun Experience Gifts for Kids

  • Tickets or a membership to the zoo
    • Gift to wrap: stuffed animal of their favorite zoo animal. My son loves this tiger.
  • Passes to a local science museum
    • Gift to wrap: science experiment book. My family enjoyed this one.
  • Pool or water park passes
    • Gift to wrap: swim goggles. This multipack would be great for multiple kids.
  • Art class
    • Gift to wrap: art smock. This smock is cute for boys or girls.
  • Amusement park tickets
  • Bowling
    • Gift to wrap: picture frame for your winning frame. Get it? Frame?
  • Ice cream
    • Gift to wrap: ice cream scoop. This kind makes scooping so easy!
  • Special meal out with mom and/or dad
  • A road trip
    • Gift to wrap: Car bingo. We have a set like this that is hours of fun!
  • Family fun center
    • Gift to wrap: Sunglasses. A pair with a strap on them like these is handy!
  • Escape room 
    • Gift to wrap: Photo frame to hold your victory snapshot
  • Movie tickets
    • Gift to wrap: Popcorn or movie theater style candy
  • Nail salon
    • Gift to wrap: A bottle of nail polish.
  • Tickets to theater or ballet
    • Gift to wrap: Photo frame to hold your “going to the theater” photo
  • Train ride
    • Gift to wrap: train conductors cap. This one is cute and inexpensive.

Are You Ready for the 5 Gift Christmas Challenge?

Are you ready to follow the 5 gift Christmas rule and take the 5 Gift Christmas Challenge?

5 Gift Rule: Want, Need, Wear, Read, Experience
5 Gift Christmas Rule: Want, Need, Wear, Read, ???

4 Gift Rule Christmas Ideas
4 Gift Rule Christmas Ideas

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Monday 2nd of November 2020

I have a slight variation.

Want Wear Need Share - family present


Sunday 22nd of November 2020

I don't like the idea of getting rid of Read but maybe replace Experience with Share.

Cindy Scott

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

Oh, I like that one!


Wednesday 16th of September 2020

Great idea to keep holiday spending in control

Cindy Scott

Wednesday 16th of September 2020

Thanks! Glad you liked it.

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