A New Gift-Giving Philosophy: Four Gifts For Christmas

For many years I scoured toy sales and Amazon trying to buy just the right toys for Christmas.  I would often fret about whether or not a certain toy would keep their attention or if they would tire of it by the end of the day (which, sadly, was often the case).

Last year I discovered the "Four Gifts For Christmas" idea and my husband and I thought it would be a good tradition to start in our home. The idea is to buy each child four gifts that fall into these categories:

1.  Something they want.
2.  Something they need.
3.  Something to wear.
4.  Something to read.

This year we didn't follow the categories exactly and we actually bought each of the children 5 gifts, but there was a HUGE difference.  This year there are no plastic toys that break; no toys that will be pushed under the bed and forgotten.

As we thought about each of the categories, we carefully considered each gift and bought gifts that would be fun and meaningful to each child. For the first time, I feel that we have given our children gifts that they will enjoy for months (years, maybe?) to come.

Here's a look at our Christmas this year:




Something they want for both children:  Both of our children love to go sledding and our older son asked for a snow tube last year.  I know both of the children will be excited to see these under the tree. I bought them on Amazon.com with gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks.com and since I had a free trial of Amazon Mom, they were shipped for free.



Something to wear/something he needs for our older son:  Our older son asked for "pajamas with slippers" like his younger brother's pajamas.  I was not able to find any footie pajamas in his size in our small town, and walmart.com was completely sold out of his size!  I ended up purchasing these spaceship pajamas from target.com for a pretty hefty price with the shipping charge.  Since it is something he needs and I know he will be thrilled to have them, I didn't mind (too much) splurging on this gift.  They are very soft and look to be well made so I think it was a good purchase.


Something to wear for our younger son:  Since our older son got a baseball cap for Christmas last year, our younger son has been wearing his dad's baseball caps so that he can be like his big brother.  While I was ordering our older son new pants for school last fall, I noticed a little baseball cap that was just his size and on sale for under $4!



Something to read for both children:  We bought both of the children the Adventure Bible from Amazon.com with gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks.com and it was also shipped for free.



Something to read #2 for older son:  National Geographic Kids Everything Weather.  Our older son showed an interest in weather this year.  I found this book in new condition at a discount store for just a fraction of the retail price.



Something to read #2 for younger son:  Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport.  Our children had a chance to go to the airport for the first time this year and our younger son was particularly inspired by the visit.  I also found this book at a discount store and paid less than the regular price.




These last gifts were actually as much for my husband and I as they are for the kids!  I don't know how many games of Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land one family can play, but I'm pretty sure we're close to winning the record!  

Both of the boys love playing games so we bought each of the boys a game to add to our collection.  This past summer Ruth wrote a review of her family's favorite games and these were the two that I thought the children would really like.  I was able to buy these on Amazon.com with gift cards and free shipping.


Thanks to the Amazon gift cards that I earned this year, we only spent $30 for Christmas gifts for the boys this year.  But more important than what we spent is that the boys will receive gifts that are fun and useful.

Simply Saving Saturday - December 21

The last two weeks have been very busy with birthday celebrations and preparing for Christmas. Christmas always seems to sneak up on me and every year I find myself rushing to get last minute details finished!

Here's the deals and savings I found the last two weeks:

Last week I cashed in Swag Bucks to purchase a $50 Walmart card that was on sale at Swagbucks.com. I'm hoping to save enough gift cards to purchase a new printer to replace our old HP.



I made a Christmas JOY sign and also put this free printable into a dollar store frame.

I printed free Christmas tags for the boys to color and attach to gifts with yarn.  The boys were happy to be involved in Christmas preparations and I love how it adds a personal touch to the gifts.

I used some yarn that I had in my yarn stash and made a winter hat and fingerless mittens set for a new baby girl in our extended family.  I'm really excited that I can finally try some of the sweet baby girl crochet patterns that I've found on Pinterest!

When our older son saw the snake I made for one of the Operation Christmas Child boxes that I did this year, he asked if he could have one "with real snake colors".  I am using Red Heart camouflage yarn and this pattern to make snakes to put in both of the boys' Christmas stockings.

This year I am making 5 gift baskets for family with homemade goodies including this cinnamon honey butter recipe that I discovered on Pinterest a few years ago.

I bought a ham for $.89/lb.

We went to a free showing of The Polar Express at the local movie theater.

Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save kitchen scraps and eggshells for the compost.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.


Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

DIY Christmas JOY Sign



I loved the simplicity of this joy sign that I noticed while searching for easy Christmas decor ideas.  My sign is very different from the original, but I think it reflects my style.  If you try this simple project, be sure to make it your own and add your own flare.

What you need:

picture frame
wood letters
scrapbook paper (heavy cardstock works best)
acrylic paint
fine glitter (optional)

The picture frame is a white washed picture frame that I purchased at Joann's with a coupon.  The scrapbook paper is also from Joann's and I purchased the wooden letters from Walmart.

First, cut out the scrapbook paper or cardstock to fit in the frame.  Paint the wooden letters and quickly sprinkle with glitter before the paint dries.  Glue the letters to the cardstock and once it dries, insert into the picture frame.




Linking to these parties

Simply Saving Saturday - December 7


I just couldn't wait to start decorating for Christmas, so this week we decorated our little Christmas tree and hung up our stockings.  It was so much fun to see all the little homemade Christmas tree decorations that we have made over the years, and I was also excited to finally be able to decorate with the refurbished ornaments and Ruffled Christmas Trees that I made during the Christmas {Decorating} in July series.

I didn't buy any meat this week and cooked a turkey that we bought when they were on sale for $.49/lb.  I made turkey broth, turkey soup, turkey and rice soup and turkey tetrazzini.

I cooked a ham that I bought on sale last week for our small group potluck and saved the ham bone to make ham and bean soup next week.

We purchased a few more gifts from Amazon.com with gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks.com and was also able to get free shipping.

In my mailbox: two free magazines and a free book that I won in a giveaway.

Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.


Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.