Rule of four

Some moms and dads have found that using the “rule of four” helps do that.

So what is the “rule of four?” It’s super simple - you give your kid four presents: one they want, one they need, one to wear and one to read. 

“Less really was more. The kids actually had a more enjoyable holiday than years when we spoiled them,” explains Megan Brunson, mom of four. “They really played with those things, and they used them more, compared to when they’d get 12 things and they’d get bored with half of them after a couple of days.”

Here are some other ways to say “no” without ruining the holidays, according to psychologist Dr. Robin H. Gurwitch:

  • Start managing expectations early - Explain to the kids that you’re downsizing the presents to save for a vacation or to make sure you have money for the things you need all year.
  • Explain your family’s rules are different from other families - If your kid expects Santa to bring anything on their wish list, let them know Santa checks with parents first and you’ve asked him to only bring four gifts this year and that some things are off limits.
  • Don’t have them pick from a catalog - It puts ideas in their heads, so ask them to come up with their own ideas about what they really want.
  • Get the grandparents onboard - If your kid wants something pricey, see if aunts and grandparents can go in on it together and make sure relatives respect your “rule of four.”
  • Swap toys for experiences - Create new traditions together and maybe put family activities on your wish list, like building a snowman together.
  • Get the kids involved with charitable giving - Let them help choose a gift for a child in need, or which cans to donate to a food pantry.

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