What is the four-gift rule and why are parents raving about it this Christmas?

Parents are loving the 'four-gift rule' this Christmas, but what is it? [Photo: Getty]

Christmas is almost here, which means many a frazzled parent is dashing around like a harassed elf trying to tick off gifts from their children’s ambitious lists.

But those wanting to stop unnecessary spending over the festive period are revelling in a “four-gift rule” that is saving parents both time and money.

Instead of piling up the presents under the tree, only for kids to lose interest by Boxing Day, parents are following a pared back gift hack that involves the purchasing of just four things.

The shopping trend has been around for some time but it has recently seen a resurgence, after a private Australian Facebook group, Kmart Mums, reminded parents about the useful gifting hack.

Other parents also headed to Kidspot to describe how the four present rule is a Christmas game-changer.

READ MORE: This is the precise time we lose patience with family over the festive period

So how does it work?

The simple rules advise that parents buy a maximum of four gifts for their children, but only if it is:

  • Something they want

  • Something they need

  • Something they wear

  • Something they read

As well as saving parents time and money, the gift rule is also more sustainable, considering most of the presents will likely end up being stuffed in the forgotten toy cupboard within a few weeks anyway.

“Whilst no mum or dad wants to be named Scrooge, children really don't need overwhelming amounts of toys,” says Amisha Mody, founder of NeeNoo. “And in a time when most parents are concerned about consumerism and the impact of waste, it makes sense to extend this to our Christmas purchasing behaviour.”

“The new four gift rule will look after all elements that is important for a child; play, practicality, physical care and psyche. It allows parents to spend a little bit more time thinking about the suitability of each gift, and perhaps even invest more than normal on these items to buy four, really meaningful gifts.”

Positive parenting coach, Anisa Lewis believes there are many other advantages to the four-gift rule too.

“This time of year is mad, impulse buying, potentially buying gifts you can ill afford or you know are going to be forgotten about come January 1st,” she says.

She recommends the rule to parents she works with and claims the main plus-point is allowing everyone to make good decisions about needs rather than wants.

“Our children are growing up in a world of 'instant gratification' so it is a good for them to need to think more deeply about the value of gifts not only the money side but also the thinking around why we give gifts and the intention behind it,” she explains.

Parenting expert Estelle Keeber, co-founder of the Mums in Business Association agrees that the rule allows children the opportunity to really think about what they need, rather than just what they want and encourages them to appreciate the act of giving. 

“Allowing them the want and need gives them the chance to differentiate which is super important for development,” she explains.

“Christmas should be a time for sharing caring and compassion and the 4 gift rule encompasses this perfectly. It also enables you to budget better, as it reduces the need for big, flashy gifts,” she adds.

READ MORE: Parents are hiring babysitters to act as 'hangover childcare’

This saving of £££ thanks to a more scaled-back method of gifting will likely be welcome news to parents considering new stats have revealed they are looking to spend over £100 on each of their children this festive season.

On the whole Brits will splurge a whopping £33.3 billion on gifts this Christmas, but it’s the nation’s little ones who are seeing the bulk of the spending.

Not only will following the four-gift rule reduce the need to spend big, it can also help children to adopt a less is more mindset, which has to be a good thing.

For other ways to avoid spoiling your kids this crimbo, while still not turning into a total Grinch, click here.