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The 7 Gift Rule for Christmas Gift-Giving to Kids

Christmas is a magical time of year for kids. But it can also be expensive and stressful. Many parents struggle to find the perfect gifts to give their children, leading to over-spending or scrambling at the last minute. That’s why we’re loving the 7 Gifts Rule; a way to limit your spending but still provide excitement for kids on Christmas morning. Follow along to see if the 7 gifts rule is right for your family.

Gifts under Christmas Tree. Text: Simplify Christmas with the 7 gift rule.

Why Moms are Loving the 7 Gifts Rule This Year

The last few years have forced all of us to re-evaluate our priorities.

While our culture has spent decades in “more is more” mode, we’ve all recently realized that we are often and surprisingly happier with less.

When you feel like you have to provide an over the top Christmas for your kids, you’re so focused on accumulating stuff that you don’t have time to consider their personality, interests and talents. Instead, you’re just on the hunt for the latest gadget or trending toy.

That’s why families everywhere are loving the 7 Gift Rule.

What is the 7 Gift Rule?

Basically, the 7 gifts rule is a way to simplify Christmas gift-giving for kids.

It involves giving each child 7 gifts, no more and no less.

This can be done by sticking to a budget or by gifting specific items from different categories on a pre-determined list.

The 7 gifts rule has become especially popular with minimalist and frugal living families because it keeps the holiday season simple.

It is also a variation 4 Gifts Rule, which I have written about before.

You see we followed the 4 gifts rule for our first minimalist Christmas and it was a big flop.

Although I loved the idea of fewer gifts, it just didn’t feel like Christmas.

There was a huge build-up of anticipation but Christmas morning was over within less than ten minutes which was a bummer.

That’s why so many families are switching to the 7 gifts rule instead as a way to provide just enough, without it being too much.

It also helps to avoid overspending, which can be common during Christmas time.

Ultimately, sticking to seven gifts ensures that kids still get excited on Christmas morning without unnecessary stress or pressure.  

Recently, the practice has become more mainstream as parents shift toward a more meaningful vs. materialistic Christmas.   

How Does The 7 Gifts Rule Work?

One of the great things about the 7 gifts rule is that it’s flexible and parents can personalize it to fit their family’s specific needs.

The most common way to follow the 7 gifts rule is by giving each child 7 gifts from specific, pre-determined categories.

Some families choose to stick to a budget for each child’s 7 gifts, while others allow for more expensive items as long as the total number of gifts stays the same.

The traditional 7 gift categories are:

7 Gifts Christmas Rule Categories.

1. Something They Want

Boy opening his Christmas gift in the living room with family. One of his 7 gifts.

This gift typically comes straight from their Christmas Wish List. It can be something small or large, but it should definitely be something your child has been wanting. This is one of the most important gifts since it will ensure that your child’s Christmas is merry and bright.

Helpful Tip: While it’s great to choose an item from your child’s holiday wish list, here’s another way to surprise them with something they’ve asked for. During the year, keep notes on your phone or create an Amazon Wish List for items your child asks for but isn’t something that you plan to purchase immediately. When Christmas comes around you’ll have plenty of gift ideas that you know they will enjoy.

2. Something They Need

Toddler opening Christmas gift.

From a new winter coat to school supplies or sports equipment this gift category is all about practicality. Giving children something they need as a gift teaches them to be grateful for the things they have.

3. Something They Wear

This is a versatile category that can include anything from clothes to shoes or sunglasses. This category is also perfect for seasonal gifts, like a pair of winter boots or a scarf.

4. Something To Read

Books are a classic Christmas gift and they always seem to be a hit with kids of all ages. Whether your child is into picture books or chapter books, there are so many options available. You can also get creative and provide magazines, graphic novels or even an e-reader of their own.

5. Something To Do

This gift is all about stimulating your child’s mind and keeping them active during the holidays. Many parents like to include gifts that encourage creativity, such as art supplies or building toys.  Other ideas are toy cars, dolls, Nerf guns or board games which make great Christmas morning activities for families.

6. Something For Me

This is the gift that your child gets to keep all to themselves. It can be something small, like a new necklace or bracelet, or something larger like a video game system or bike. This is the perfect opportunity to let your child know that you think they’re special and deserve their own little treat.

7. Something For The Family

Family opening a Christmas gift together.

Rounding out the 7 gifts rule is a category that is my favorite. One that brings everyone together and encourages connection. This could be anything from a board game to waterpark passes or even a trampoline for the backyard. The whole idea is that it’s a gift that everyone gets to enjoy together.


The 7 gifts rule is definitely something to consider this year if you want to start a new Christmas tradition that keeps things simple and stress-free during the holidays.

Not only does it make gift-giving easier, but it also helps kids learn to really appreciate what they are given.

When kids are given just enough to feel special, but not so much that they feel spoiled they are much more likely to cherish the items they receive.


  1. Really love this. I stuck to it last year on my baby’s first Christmas I’m a bit stumped for ideas this year. He will be nearly two. It would be great for some baby suggestions in the lists

    1. I have done this since my daughter’s second Christmas (with the exception of a couple where she wanted to use the rule of 3). She’s 22 now, so had to look back at pics, but for her second Christmas she got:

      1. An outfit for her something to wear
      2. Pajamas and slippers for something she needed
      3. A book for something to read
      4. A doll stroller for something she wanted
      5. A Discovery Toy Castle (like a toddler marble maze) for her something to do
      6. A plushy Christmas animal for her something for herself
      7. Puzzles that were a little harder than she had done before for something to do together

  2. Found this as I searched for ways to wean my 11 yo off too many presents at Xmas. He had over 20 today and was not happy. He said he’s used to his dad spoiling him, and this is the first year without him in the home. I felt like a complete failure today, and the day was only saved when I gave him an iPhone. Will be trying out this 7 gift rule for next year. And I’m going to be preparing him for that all year long! So no nasty surprises on Xmas day 2023! Thanks a lot for the article

    1. You are definitely not a complete failure, since you are actively searching for ways to raise a child with reasonable expectations who is not spoiled! I love the idea of you preparing him throughout the year. Since he currently has such high expectations, I would definitely include a lesson about budgeting. Perhaps you have him do chores throughout the year to earn allowance with the caveat that a percentage of it must be saved to buy gifts for people next year during the holidays.

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