Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas

I love Christmas!! Then I had kids. It suddenly went from enjoying the season to being stressed out and maxed out. My husband and I overspent on gifts every year. We soon learned we focused on the wrong thing and changed our focus. Continue to read how I enjoy less stress, and more joy by Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas.

Less Stress, More Joy: Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas

How I Used to Shop

Growing up in a Christian home, sometimes, Christmas gets monotonous. Every year, we have the same traditions, the same stress, the same business everything. We do all this to celebrate something that we remember every week when we are at church.

I was tired of the shopping and the monotony. It felt like we celebrated Christmas because that’s what our culture did, not because we wanted to get closer to God. I really wanted to change things up, so I felt it would focus the season more on Christ instead of ourselves.

One way I shifted focus was by changing the way we got gifts for each other and for our kids.

Usually, we would set a budget and just go shopping. We would get as many presents as we could with the budget we agreed on.

Over the years, I just felt like I was buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts. Our kids were always happy with what we got them, but I felt like they were not really all that meaningful.

Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas

Changing it up

I wanted to change things up, but I had no clue what to do. So, I went where I usually go: online. I read about what other people did and why.

That’s when I came across only giving 3 gifts to kids.

When Jesus was a boy, kings came to visit Him. He received 3 gifts from them. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Each item was to represent who He was and what he was going to go through as an adult.

To be more like Jesus, these people gave their children 3 gifts and started a 3 Gift Tradition.

A picture of children all dressed up in their Christmas best clothes, standing in front of a Christmas tree, each holding an unwrapped Christmas present. Under the picture are the words, enjoy less stress, and more joy by Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas. www.onedeterminedlife.com

The 3 gift Tradition Christmas

To start this 3 gift tradition, it’s important to know what each gift is, and what they stand for.

  1. Gold: a treasure: something they want
  2. Frankincense: Frankincense was used for worship: something for their spirit
  3. Myrrh: was used to prepare a body for burial: something for their body.

When I read the idea, I had already bought over 3 presents, so I knew it was something I wanted to try the next year.

Setting parameters

Only buying 3 gifts for Christmas for each child sounded easy!! I could totally do that. But when I went shopping, I found that the perimeters I had set were very limiting!!

I could only get 1 thing my kids really wanted.

That was the hardest obstacle. The first year, I thought I was not getting my kids enough. I felt like buying  3 gifts made me cheap and lame. I had a hard time with the parameters I had set. 

No lies that first year was hard.

It was hard because suddenly I could not just walk into a store and buy whatever I wanted. I had to stop and think.

3 Things I considered

Before starting this 3 gift tradition, I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and why. To do so, I considered these 3 things:

1. What would they play with

My house is full of toys. Most times, those toys aren’t played with, they are just used to make a mess. I wanted to only keep toys my children played with regularly.

It is also important to me they enjoy the toys they have. Sometimes, the only way we can enjoy a toy is if there are no other toys to distract us.

2. What would truly make them happy?

My children are normal children, so when they receive a toy it always thrills them. At that moment, they could not be happier. But, over time, the toys they don’t really love get ignored and unused.

I don’t mind spending money on toys, but I wanted to take time to know my children and get them things they would truly love.

3. What items would feed their souls

As a parent, it’s easy for me to forget that my children’s soul needs nourishing. There are things that our children enjoy that truly speak to who they are and that encourage them to grow.

My eldest daughter loves to draw. Doing so helps her express her feelings and her talents. She likes to do art to calm down and to get away from the noise. Getting her art supplies is a way I can feed her love of art and a way I can help her relax and reduce her stress.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

What I learned

I had never really taken that much time in the past to think about my children. I would see something I think they would like and then I would get it.

But, limiting my options made me consider why I was getting, what I was getting, and ask how it was to be used. The entire process became a blessing to me.

We would only get our kids 3 gifts at Christmas. But, instead of just buying whatever each gift was more meaningful and precious— to us and to our children.

So now I look forward to this alternative way of buying gifts. We tell our children that we will only buy them 3 gifts. Any other gifts they get are from family. But since the gifts we have given them are so personal, they don’t seem to mind.

Every year, I think we should get our kids more. But every year, the voice comes back and says: why??

Christmas is not about gifts, it’s about Christ. Limiting our gift-giving has helped me keep the focus on Christ, but also on truly blessing my family during this time.

In the comments below, tell me if you follow this 3 gift tradition and what you like or don’t like about it.

19 responses to “Embracing the 3 Gift Tradition at Christmas”

  1. Leigh-Ellen Avatar

    I’ve never heard of this before and I love it! We are only doing one gift this year since we have four kids now (and they get plenty of gifts from other people). But I agree that finding a purposeful gift is so much better than just buying stuff that they will play with for only a week or so.

  2. Erin Nicole Brooks Avatar
    Erin Nicole Brooks

    I love this idea! It really gives them a chance to appreciate what they have and what they get and I love the meaning behind it all!

  3. Sarah Dew Avatar
    Sarah Dew

    This is such a great way to look at the gift buying process. It’s all too easy to just buy gifts for the sake of buying them but I totally agree with the principle that less is more. We always try to spend our money on experiences rather than things. Getting gifts that create memories rather than those that’ll end up hidden away in the cupboard and never played with is so much more meaningful. I can’t remember where I read it now but another good way to do the three gift principle is to get them something they need, something to wear and something to read. Tying it in with the Christmas story is such a lovely way of teaching them it’s not the number of gifts they’re given that matters, it’s the reason they’re being given that’s important. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Erica @ Coming up Roses Avatar

    This is such a cool way to look for gifts. It makes them even more meaningful. And I lovelovelove that it ties in with the Christmas story!

  5. Holly and Ivy Mommy Avatar
    Holly and Ivy Mommy

    My family never did a lot of presents when I was growing up, so now excess at Christmas and even birthdays makes me uncomfortable, so I’m totally with you.

  6. Carrie Myers Avatar
    Carrie Myers

    I agree that Christmas becomes too much on the commercial and not the true meaning. My boys are nearly grown and the gifts have gotten a smaller in quantity but I try to focus on what would be more useful to them. I’m sure every year may be difficult to not buy everything for them and limit to just 3.

  7. Susannah Fields O'Brien Avatar
    Susannah Fields O’Brien

    Same here! Other things are more important 🙂

  8. Nicole Saunders Avatar
    Nicole Saunders

    This is such a great way to focus on the meaning of Christmas! I can imagine the first year being really tough! It’s so fun to spoil your loved ones, but I think you are doing an awesome job teaching them the value and meaning of Christmas!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar
      Anne Markey

      It is hard to figure it out and some years I do get 4 gifts, but the idea helped me so much

  9. Emerson-Danielle Miller Avatar
    Emerson-Danielle Miller

    This is the second article I read this week about downsizing at Christmas time, and it such a confirmation to me as I’ve been feeling that downsizing is just what my family needs. Last year I found that I bought a ton of little gifts just to fill up around the tree. you know how it is, kids love whatever they get. I’m going to go with your 3 gift idea for Christmas this year! I love how it coorolates with Jesus getting three gifts! thank you x

    1. Anne Markey Avatar
      Anne Markey

      The year before I did this I did the same. I was tired of just trying to get stuff and wanted to focus on things that would be more meaningful. I think you will really like this if you make the change.

  10. Malinda Just Avatar
    Malinda Just

    We do this in our family, too!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar
      Anne Markey

      That is awesome! When did you start?

      1. Malinda Just Avatar
        Malinda Just

        We actually started when our first was a baby. I grew up in a big-time Santa house, and long-story short, I was crushed when I found out it wasn’t true (I was a 5th grader!)…and it crushed my Christmas spirit! Was always driven to point our kids to Christ instead!

  11. barefoot warrior Avatar

    I’ve never heard the parallel of giving three gifts as a representation of the gifts Jesus received. What a lovely representation! I so hear you on the stresses that can overtake this season of joy and reflection. It is easy to get caught up in the cultural aspect of Christmas rather than the TRUTH of Christmas. The three gifts parallel is a wonderful way to keep things in check! Thank you for this wonderful, thought provoking idea! <3

    1. Anne Markey Avatar
      Anne Markey

      I can’t remember where I heard it, but it rung so true in my heart. When I first started this my kids were a bit young to understand the significance of the gifts but as they get older I want to teach them that as well.

  12. Jordan Collie Avatar
    Jordan Collie

    I think this is a great idea! It makes the gifts much more personal and something they treasure more, and without teaching them to be greedy. More thoughts go into the gifts in my opinion. Love it!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar
      Anne Markey

      I agree. They still get spoiled because they get stuff from family , but the gifts do end up to be more personal

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