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Save money with the
‘Four Gift Rule’
this Christmas

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We all love seeing the look on our children’s faces on Christmas morning, when they discover that big pile of presents under the tree.

But that pile of pressies doesn’t come cheap – especially if you have more than one child. And we know that most of it will end up in the back of the cupboard come January!

Last Christmas, parents on average wasted £50 or more per child on unwanted toys, with many children losing interest after just a few days.

Save money and cut the clutter

It can be hard to cut down on gifts, because you want to make sure your child enjoys those few precious ‘Santa Years’. 

But there is a handy way to balance budgeting and gift-giving, that can bring the cost of Christmas right down and reduce the clutter in your home.

The ‘Four Gift Rule’ is a handy trick that has popped up online in recent years, and it goes like this: 

Something they want

Something they need

Something to wear

Something to read

With this method of gift-buying, you limit yourself to buying four presents for each child. Whether you’re planning to spend £30 or £300, you can adapt the rule to suit your family’s budget.

It really is about whatever works best for your family, but the general idea is that each gift is given for a reason – not just to add to the impressively large pile of presents under the tree. 

A few carefully selected presents will mean that your child is more grateful for the gifts they do receive, and hopefully, you’ll be less stressed and more able to just enjoy the festive period.

1. Something they Want

Finding a gift that your child wants is easy – many children will have a list of items ready and waiting! 

Try to choose something they will genuinely enjoy for a long time; but if they truly have their heart set on whatever their friends at school will be getting, that’s okay too.

For babies and toddlers who are a little young to know what they want yet, take a look at our tried and tested gifts for babies and toddlers for a little inspiration.

Toys featuring favourite films or characters can prove to be really exciting gifts, with the familiar theme really capturing children’s imaginations. For example, if your child is a Harry Potter fan, the animatronic Wizarding World Harry Potter Sorting Hat will sort them into their Hogwarts house (“Not Slytherin! Not Slytherin!”) and is perfect for some magical make-believe play.


2. Something they Need

Buying a practical gift is a good habit to get into and it means you know it’s something that will be used.


This could be a new school bag, a duvet cover set for their bed, or toiletries. Jazz it up by choosing something featuring their favourite character, or with a bit of a twist – for example, the EatSleepDoodle range of bedding can be coloured in again and again for a new design after every wash.



Something they need could also be an educational toy, to support your child’s learning in a way that’s fun and interesting for them. The Discover the World board game, for instance, teaches children fascinating and useful facts about countries, cultures and continents as they race around the world map.


3. Something to Wear

Just like the ‘something they need’ gift, this is something practical that you know will get plenty of use. 

It could anything from a funky set of PJ’s or a t-shirt with a favourite character on it, to that coveted ‘fashion’ item.

For older children who are a little more fashion-conscious, I suggest keeping the receipt (just in case!) or giving them a gift card so they can enjoy the independence of choosing something for themselves.

4. Something to Read

Last, but certainly not least – whatever age your child is, reading can help them understand the world and themselves, discover new worlds, and learn new things. From potty training to fall-outs with friends, there’s a book for everything. 

That could be in the form of a storybook – you could buy a special edition of a favourite book, a sequel to a much-loved story or try a new genre altogether.  


You could also consider a subscription to something that your child is passionate about. If they’re fascinated by the world around them, take a look at First News, the independent, weekly national newspaper for children.  Designed to suit different reading levels and with a child-friendly but informative tone, all the main news stories are reported as well as lots of happy news too.


An alternative approach:
The Balanced Play Pyramid

If the Four Gift Rule isn’t for you, how about planning your gifts around the Play Pyramid

A balanced approach to play means encouraging your child to spend their time doing a variety of activities such as active play, board games, and arts and crafts. 


Christmas is a great time to make sure your child has a range of toys to support balanced play:

    • Toys to ignite their imagination
    • Toys to get them outdoors
    • Games to play with friends and family
    • Arts and crafts or something musical to get creative
    • Something silly or interesting to read 
    • Educational toys to inspire a love of learning
    • Something digital to help them learn, or just for fun


By choosing toys that help your child get a good balance, he or she can learn lots of important skills simply by playing!


However you choose to plan your gift buying this year, remember that it’s the memories that your child will cherish the most. 

Spending time together, playing games, and watching your favourite Christmas films, is the most valuable gift you can give your child.

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