A Fun Twist on the 4 Gift Rule

The holiday season can be an overwhelming time when you think about how much money you might spend. Most of this holiday money stress can boil down to buying gifts for your family. While there’s nothing wrong with buying gifts for your kids, you also don’t have to go overboard especially if you’re on a budget.

Either way, less is more when it comes to holiday gifts and fewer gifts could actually be more meaningful to your kids. One popular way to give your kids gifts for Christmas is by following the 4 gift rule. This is a popular way for parents to be more mindful when buying gifts and helps kids think about what they truly want.

The 4 gift rule is great by itself but it can be even more exciting and effective when you put a fun twist on this gift-giving method.

So, What Exactly is the 4 Gift Rule?

The 4 gift rule includes 4 categories of gifts to give someone. Instead of going shopping as you normally would and just grabbing any and everything you think they’d like, it really makes you think and narrow down your options.

Here’s how it works. You get:

1. Something they want

2. Something they need

3. Something to Wear

4. Something to read

These 4 gift categories are all practical and useful. By going with this tradition each year, you can start to save more money or even higher-quality items without gathering such a huge haul. Here’s how gift shopping may pan out if you have a 10-year old boy.

1. Let’s say he wants a VR headset or a video game. Perfect, this ‘want’ category is always easy.

2. Maybe he’s interested in sports and wants to join a basketball team. He may ‘need’ a quality basketball or some new shoes to play in.

3. Choosing something for the ‘wear’ category can be new clothing in general or you can consider a cozy set of pajamas for the winter.

4. Finally, order a fun adventure book you think he will like or ask him what’s been on his reading wish list.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Win the Online Impulse Shopping Battle

Now For the Twist…

The 4 gift rule is such a great framework that you can get super creative with. Luckily, this fun twist helps you think outside of the box even more. Consider this: swap out the ‘wear’ category with something else. Now, if the person you’re shopping for needs or wants some clothing items, feel free to keep it and just add a 5th category.

The 5 gift rule doesn’t sound as catchy for some reason but it’s still very doable. Your additional or new category will be: experiences.

Experiences are very rewarding and don’t have to be limited to your annual family vacation. There are so many fun ways we can be exploring new things and making memories with our loved ones. This means experiences should definitely have a solid place in your gift-giving strategy.

Going on an outing, purchasing a class, or doing things with someone is also more memorable. I can’t always remember what I got for my husband for Christmas but there are a few gifts I’ll never forget. One year, I purchased tickets for him and I to see a Chicago Bulls basketball game and it was such a fun night just getting out and enjoying the game. I splurged for good seats and don’t regret it one bit.


There are tons of experiences you may want to consider for your kids, spouse, and other family members this holiday season. Here are a few great ideas:

  • Tickets to a local winter fest or fair
  • Skiing or snowboarding experience
  • Indoor skydiving
  • Sightseeing day downtown
  • Music lessons
  • A trip to the local go-karting track
  • Cooking class
  • Weekend camping
  • Gift card to a spa or nail salon
  • Play day at an indoor amusement park
  • Visit to the petting zoo
  • Escape room
  • Local sporting event/game

As you can see, there are tons of fun experiences to gift your family and friends with. Gifts are still nice but experiences are a great use of our time and energy. Plus, they help us bond with loved ones and are harder to forget.

Realize that some experiences may cost more than others but it’s important to set a budget and clear intentions for your holiday spending so you’l know what’s realistic for you.

Other Ways to Save Money on Holiday Gifts

Looking for other ways to save on holiday shopping and gifts? These tips will help you.

Set a Budget

Always start with a budget. Create a holiday spending plan and list out common expenses you’ll incur along with a budget for each person on your gift list. This gives you a clear guideline for how much you can spend without getting into debt or neglecting other areas of your finances.

RELATED: 5 Holiday Budget Busters & How to Survive Them

Start Early and Utilize Sales

We all know what day Christmas falls on each year, so it never hurts to start shopping early. Utilize sales, deals, and coupons even before Black Friday hits. If you see something months in advance that you know a loved one would like, buy it early and you’ll have less to shop for.

Earn Rewards

Be sure to earn rewards and cash back for your purchases. Use Rakuten to help you get rebates on your online purchases. Rakuten partners with tons of popular retailers so you can earn money when you shop. These rewards can be used to supplement your holiday spending.

Summary: The 4 Gift Rule is Great For Families

The holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy your home and loved ones. Don’t let the pressure to buy tons of gifts make you feel stressed out and overwhelmed. The 4 gift rule is great for families who are on a budget but also want to be more intentional about gift giving. Consider putting a fun twist on this gift idea by adding in some fun and frugal experiences that everyone will enjoy.