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Christmas Gift Lists: Getting People to Give You What You Want

It’s holiday season! So naturally, I feel stressed and guilty. Every year Christmas brings up gift-getting-guilt. Why? Because I always end up feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by what is, really, just generosity and love. It’s either way too much stuff or not what I asked for. Typically? Both. And then I’m the Grinch.

Christmas is about giving. But I don’t want my family to spend a ton of money on things I won’t use! It makes me feel terrible! I’ve always felt a little awkward getting gifts. Now I have a daughter I get to feel awkward for as well!

I make a list every year for my daughter (and my husband) and me. This isn’t to be rude, to be needy, or to ruin the surprise. We simply want to make sure that the money people so generously spend is being put to the best use! 

After all, I want my gifts to others to be appreciated and liked too! I love a list! You should too.

How to make the best possible Christmas list

  1. Make it short.
    Don’t list everything your kid or you have ever wanted.
    What are the things you don’t want to buy yourself or wouldn’t buy yourself?
  1. Make it specific.
    The purple one with blue hair? 16inches? Stainless steel? List it out. If I’m shopping for your tea kettle, I don’t want to guess if you want to make 1 cup or 10 cups, and I can’t remember what color your kitchen is.
  2. Don’t duplicate.
    NEVER send the same giant list to both sets of grandparents or tell your mother and your husband the same gift ideas. Unless they are able to cooperate behind your back, you’ll end up with duplicates.
  3. Give options.
    Two or three options allows the giver to have a say in the price and allows the receiver to still be surprised. 

Try the Four Gift Rule. Everyone gets:

Something They Want

A Gift They Need

Something To Wear

A Gift To Read

Tree with Christmas gift

You may have seen this idea gaining popularity on social media — especially Pinterest. It’s often directed at parents giving to kids, but this can be a GREAT idea for grandparents — especially if they tend to go overboard. Not only does it guarantee your kids wills get essential and useful items, it’s a fun family tradition to start! And no one is complaining “she got more toys than me.”

This is really great if you have grandparents who really want gift autonomy. They can pick one fun item, one useful item, one crazy outfit, and one book. My family is doing this with my in-laws, and I’m pretty excited. 


Get Everyone On Board

Lay the groundwork

Start early for the easiest transition. If you start talking about the Four Gift Rule months before the holidays, it won’t be a surprise or seem odd.

Mentioning to family that they can expect your list around X date gives them a heads up that you’re doing a list and gives them a chance to ask you questions about it.

Christmas gift pile

Make it easy to get

Links! If your gift-givers are internet friendly, email LINKS to products on Amazon, Target, Walmart, whatever.
If that’s a total no-go, write out detailed descriptions or even put stuff on hold at the store and let your givers pick something out.

It may not work the first year (or the second)

Don’t worry too much if it doesn’t work the first time. Grandmas may still go overboard or veer off into silly holiday socks and strange home decorations. That’s ok. Try again. 

What Christmas gift giving traditions does your family have? We’d love to hear!

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