I feel like I am getting way ahead of myself, posting about Christmas and holidays and all. But I am totally getting into the holiday spirit in September. I blame Hobby Lobby for stocking pumpkins in August.
Anyway. I was talking to a friend about the way I shop for Christmas presents the other day, and she mentioned how much she liked hearing about my four gift rule. So, I wanted to spend a little more diving into the four gift rule and how I use it for Christmas shopping for my partner!
What is the four gift rule?
Something you want, something you need; something to wear, and something to read.
That is, in its essence, the four gift rule. You buy someone:
- Something they want.
- Something they need.
- Something they can wear.
- Something they can read.
I don’t do this for everyone on my Christmas list. In fact, I only use it for my partner, and this is the rule he uses for me, too. But it’s great! We use it to stay on budget and avoid buying each other a ton of stuff we don’t really need.
Something you want
This is the easiest category most of the time. (Although for Patrick, it’s tough, because he never wants anything!) I spend my entire year thinking about things that Patrick has expressed he might want. Last year, he had said he wanted to go on a trip. I booked us an AirBnB in Charleston for a weekend.
Sometimes, he never actually says he wants something, so I just assume that he would want something. (Like two years ago, when I got him a new XBox. He never said he wanted it, but he had wanted to play a new game that they stopped making for his 360. For his “want,” I put two and two together!)
Something you need
This can be a really tough category, but I like it because it allows me to pick something up for Patrick that I think he should have but would never buy for himself. Last year, I knew he needed new casual belts, but he hates shopping for himself. That was an easy and great “need” item to fulfill.
Something to wear
Patrick has an easier time with this one than I do, because I love clothes and shoes. He just has to pick one of many things I’ve put on my list or mentioned I’d like, and he’s all set. For him, I try to buy him an item of clothing that isn’t quite what he usually buys for himself (he’s a button-downs and chinos kind of guy) like Allbirds or a sherpa pullover.
Something to read
I think books are the perfect Christmas gift for anyone. You can always find a gift for someone if you’re in a bookstore – there’s something for everyone. This pushes me to always get Patrick a book (even though he’s not a huge reader). Meanwhile, he uses this category to pick up a cookbook for me, which is something I rarely spend money on for myself even though I love them.
How to use the four gift rule
I recommend using this for anyone you tend to buy more than one present for! If you go overboard for your kids, your partner, your parents or your friends, try to get everyone to agree to the four gift rule instead. (I definitely recommend having all parties on board – it makes it more fun and keeps everyone on the same page.)
I’ve heard that it’s harder for parents to do it for their kids but that they really appreciate doing it, because they are able to splurge on one big want gift instead of trying to get their child everything they might want.