Christmas Gifts in Moderation :: Want, Need, Wear & Read


Two years ago I saw an article about how children get so many gifts throughout the year that the toys just pile up and go unused. It suggested how to give quality gifts without a lot of quantity: four gifts falling into the categories of Want, Need, Wear, and Read. I thought this was something I could manage and decided to give it a try! The first year we did it, the boys were truly happy with what they received. Here’s a peek into how it works!
Want Need Wear Read

Want: This is anything that your kids have been asking for. It’s probably the easiest category because there are always things on their wish list! Our house is bursting at the seams with too many toys, so I like the idea of “experience gifts”, anything that they might like to do: concerts, upcoming kids shows, movie tickets, museum memberships etc.

Need: Thankfully, we are able to provide basic necessities for our kids so this is usually the hardest one for me to figure out. This category could easily be filled by new sheets, towels, or an item for a project they’ve been working on. For younger kids this could include learning toys, new bottles, anything! When I first did this my youngest was 2, so his “need” was diapers.

Wear: This is pretty self-explanatory but you can have fun with this one. If your child loves shoes you can splurge on that pair they’ve been looking at. My son loves Under Armour. It’s not a regular purchase in our house, but knowing that this was the plan I was able to hit up the UA outlet and get a few shirts for a deep discount!

Read: This is my favorite because I LOVE books! You can have so much fun with this one – magazines are a great choice, too. This not only gives them the opportunity to read something different every month, but they will love getting mail! Disney and Redan Publishing offer tons of options. If your child is not old enough to read to themselves, you can choose books that you would enjoy reading to them. This could also be a chance to get your child a Kindle if that is something they’ve been wanting or even gift cards to load a book or magazine on your Kindle or other reading device for them to enjoy.

While I do like to employ this as our main gift giving tactic for our kids, they will also receive gifts from Santa. His gifts usually tend to be a main gift and a few smaller items, including socks and underwear. It always seems that they end up with more stuff than they need so this is a good way to prevent items {and your expenses} from piling up during the holidays. Fun hint–this also works well for adults and it gives your spouse specific things to shop for!

Want Need Wear Read Adult
My Christmas haul after our first Want Need Wear Read Christmas!

Does your family do “Want, Need, Wear, Read”?

want need wear read


  1. I’ve heard about this idea for a few years and love it. Here’s my issue: what do you do when the deluge of gifts comes from grandparents? Try to rein them in at the risk of hurt feelings, or just let it go? Part of me hates being overshadowed. We have a two-year-old, so there’s time before he’ll see the discrepancy, but the patterns are already being set.

    • I try to rein in grandparents by letting them know we don’t need the toys and to offer other suggestions they would enjoy that doesn’t fill our toy room. Sometimese they listen and sometimes they don’t and we just move from there. In our house we are always overshadowed by Santa though! 🙂 Good luck with what you decide!

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