My Two Gift Rule: How Long Can It Continue?

For the past two years my husband and I have given my son one gift each. He was born in October of 2011, so last year he was only two months old when Christmas rolled around and this year he was just a few days over 14 months.

At this age he doesn’t know the meaning of Christmas, he can’t tell us what games he really wants to play with and he certainly doesn’t know if he should receive two gifts or a room full of presents.

This year he received a bottle of Mr. Bubbles for extra special bath time fun and a toy that sings when he turns it’s pages. The toy was intended to distract him during long car trips to North Carolina. He opened those two gifts then helped my husband open the four gifts, (two each), that we bought for each other.

Some friends and family members seemed surprised by the lack of gifts under the tree, but for the time being I decided that my son simply has enough. Thanks to the generous hand-me-downs of friends and family members our living room already looks like the toy department at Target.

I’ll never forget some of the early Christmas’s for my niece and nephew. They received box after box of brightly wrapped paper and spent little more than a second or two looking at the gift before ripping into the next one.

I want my son to have time to reflect on the gifts he receives and to take the time to thank the gift givers for all that he receives.

This year my son received only one gift each from my grandmother, parents, brothers and sister-in-law. The rest of the money that would’ve been spent on gifts was funneled into his 529.

As my son ages I know he probably won’t be happy with my two gift rule (one from mommy and one from daddy). I’m sure he’ll circle pages of the circulars and provide long wish lists for us.

In fact, I wonder how long I can continue the two gift policy and I wonder if there are any parents out there that feel the same way I do?

11 thoughts on “My Two Gift Rule: How Long Can It Continue?”

  1. I hope it lasts as long as possible. The money will be so much better in his education fund, and you are right, he truly will appreciate gifts when there are fewer (and less costly ones) to appreciate. Wish I had done that when mine were younger.

    • I hope he’ll appreciate it and not feel deprived. He doesn’t know the difference at this age, but as he grows up I’m not sure how he’ll feel about it. I hope he’s happy at age 18 šŸ™‚

  2. I second Jolie – hang in there as long as you can! We’ve found over the years that less is more in most aspects, but particularly the holidays. Our kids are lucky enough to have oodles of family who buy for them, so only getting a few gifts (3-4) total from us AND Santa is perfect. We’ve also made it a point to ask others to think about making memories by giving experiences rather than stuff, which has led to my kids going to the movies, theater, museums and other great outings with grandparents, aunts and uncles and others who love them.

    • I love the idea of asking grandparents and aunts and uncles to focus on experience gifts rather than tangible ones. I’ll have to keep that one in mind as my son gets older. I know kids love one-on-one time.

      Between the extended relatives I think that we can focus on a small number of gifts as well or even one or two more expensive gifts over a room full of cheaper items. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I’m hoping to stick to the following – one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear and one thing to read.

    I managed easily this year, but with a 7 month old it is easy, hopefully I can continue. He gets more than enough from other family members and I find the copious amount of presents my nephews & nieces get from their parents a little disgusting. Not to mention there is usually only 1-2 that they really love and play with and the rest end up in the junk pile.

    So keep going as long as you can. šŸ™‚

    • I love that motto. I actually changed my gift giving philosophy after watching my niece and nephew open presents over the years. They receive so many presents that it seemed quite overwhelming. Like you though our son is pretty young right now. These first few years will be easy, it’s the later years that will be much harder.

  4. We haven’t done the 2 gift rule but we don’t give extravagantly either. I tried to do the 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something they can watch, something they can read. I didn’t really stick to it much this year but keeping it in mind kept me from going over the top. Our son is 3.5 and will ask for things in the store. But he’s not old enough to remember what he wanted, only just that he wants everything! I took pictures of the things he pointed out at the store and told him that i would share them with grandparents as gift suggestions. My SIL and I both have boys the same age and we agreed that we would only gift to the kids and put at limit on the amount $25. Now if I could only get my MIL to not go crazy of gifts!

    • I have the same MIL issue, but I decided if she gives him a lot of gifts I can ask others to contribute to his savings account or provide him with money for college. He won’t feel deprived, but he won’t end up with a room overflowing with toys. I like the idea of taking pictures of toys my son wants as he gets a little older.

      I also have a limit on toys for my niece and nephew. We’ve never really discussed it, but the price falls in the $25 range.

      Thanks for the comment.

  5. We give 3 gifts to our children since baby Jesus was given 3 gifts. Also since the kids have gotten older, we participate in some type of giving back to the community event. Which is the true meaning of Christmas!

    • Oh I love the three gift idea. We are also participating in at least one community event. This year we handed out gift cards to the men and women at our local firehouses šŸ™‚

  6. The two-gift rule seems a little stifling — not that I think kids should have lots of gifts under the tree; my parents were fairly horrified that my 4 year olds had 6 Santa gifts each and 3 to share (not nearly enough by their book, but my husband doesn’t get a big Christmas bonus and my dad always has). I think the three gifts, for the three gifts of the Magi, and the 4 gift “something to” rules are more sustainable in the long run, and they’re easier to explain. Toddlers don’t need much, but there comes a point as a parent when you want to encourage different areas of development or interests: music, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, etc., and the relatives’ gifts just aren’t cutting it.

    Also, there’s the Santa issue. Are the two gifts from parents going to be separate from Santa gifts?

    This year my daughters had LOTS of questions about the gifts Santa might leave for other kids. It’s challenging to stay a few steps ahead of them!


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