What Happened When We Gave Our Children Only Three Presents For Christmas

My memories of Christmas as a child consist of eggnog, Christmas Eve at my Memere’s and waking up to a living room filled with presents. Literally almost the whole room, filled! I would say my mom’s love language is definitely gifts. She has always been a gift giver and in turn, when I had children I was leaning towards the same tendencies!

Up until last year we had always done a Christmas budget, we have X amount of money to spend on each child and we were actually pretty good at sticking to it! When children are young, you can make a small Christmas budget look a lot bigger than it is on Christmas morning. And our living room on Christmas morning was of course, very full with presents.

After a conversation with one of my friends about how she and her husband get their children three presents each, because Jesus received three presents, I got to thinking. At first I admired her heart, what a wonderful way to celebrate Jesus and remember why we do this every year!

And then after talking with my husband, we decided to do the same this past Christmas. We loved the idea of being more focused on Jesus and this idea coincided with our “less is more” mentality in regards to toys. Instead of picking a budget we decided to just give three presents each and a stocking too.

I confess that I definitely had the hardest time adjusting to this change. It was engrained in me that we must lavish our children with gifts on Christmas morning, and that is what we had done. How bummed will they be on Christmas morning only having three presents to unwrap? Plus that means if the kids only get three presents – so do I!

The weeks leading up to Christmas we had multiple conversations about how we were only getting three presents and why. We re-read the story of Jesus’ birth and the wise men coming to celebrate Him and give Him gifts. We talked about the joy of giving other people gifts as well. We talked about Jesus more in December 2017, than we ever had during the Christmas season!

Christmas Eve came and my husband and I put all the presents under the tree and we both just stood there for a minute, both feeling nervous and hopeful that our children wouldn’t be disappointed come morning.


Christmas morning 2017 was one I will never forget. It was so beautiful seeing my children – especially our oldest who was six at the time – patiently, slowly open their gifts. Our oldest daughter opened one gift, then wanted to see her sister open the one that she had picked out for her. She took her time opening her stocking and enjoyed watching other people open their gifts. Our kid’s focus that morning had totally shifted from flippantly opening gifts and rushing through to enjoying the moment, receiving the gratification that comes from giving other people gifts, and really taking it all in.

We finished opening presents much earlier in the morning than usual. After presents we had a big breakfast and then we had a fun devotional and acted out the Jesus’ birth story. The kids of course enjoyed this as did we, our Christmas days can sometimes be rushed getting ready to leave for Christmas lunch with my mom’s family, but last year we relaxed and enjoyed each other.

Moving forward our intentions are to continue in this tradition. I am so grateful for my friend sharing this idea and for the wonderful memories it will give us moving forward.

4 thoughts on “What Happened When We Gave Our Children Only Three Presents For Christmas

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