He only received 3 gifts

This post was originally written and posted in 2010. While some things have changed, including another child being born, we still follow this one simple tradition. We honor Jesus on Christmas and don’t overindulge with gifts. Our kids have accepted this tradition without any complaint. They choose 3 gifts they want the most each year. We have added one other gift as one from us (mom and dad) but Santa still brings 3 gifts. I know that mixing the magic of Santa with the faithful demonstration of 3 gifts may not work for everyone, but it does for us. Christmas has been about Jesus’ birth for several years now and honestly, Santa is not mentioned as much as it was prior to our starting this tradition. This is one I am wanting to share with you all again because it truly has been a wonderful part of our holiday season.


From November 2010

3 gifts for Jesus

I have been working on ways to help my kids see the true meaning of Christmas for a few years.  Johnny is now 4 years old and starting to grasp that Christmas is the birth of Jesus.  With these changes in our house, I think now is the best time to make the meaning of this holiday season ever present in our home.

We are doing it big this year.  As we unpacked the nativity sets last night, I was looking at the three Wise Men with the kids.  They were able to see that Jesus received 3 gifts on Christmas (his birth).  I told the kids that if Jesus only received three gifts, shouldn’t that be enough for them?

We have talked about this at length over the past few weeks actually but the visual with the Wise Men has really helped.  I want Christmas to have meaning and not be about how many gifts you get.  I also don’t want to spend so much money on gifts that my kids neither want or need.  We are sure this is going to help our kids understand the blessing of this holiday season.

So, my kids have been encouraged to choose 3 gifts that they would want most of all for Santa to bring.  We will still be stuffing their stockings with little things but there will only be 3 main gifts under the tree for each kid this year.  We are trying to make sure that those gifts are things the kids want and not things to fill space.  Of course, there is only so much you can do with those that don’t say what they want but we are trying to make this a special Christmas for our family.  In addition, it will help keep our finances in check at this time of year that so many people really stress their wallets and bank accounts.

This new tradition will be one that lasts and hopefully has an effect on my kids as they grow up.  Christmas is not about gifts… it is about The Gift.  Jesus.

Do you have any traditions?  I love to hear about other families’ traditions so please share!


  1. Rebecca Orr says

    This is a great way of thinking and celebrating for Christian families. I personally overbuy and over spend every year. I need to start rethinking our process and the reasons behind it all.

  2. says

    That is a pretty good concept to get the kids only three gifts, it has great meaning to it too; I personally buy a little too much. I get too excited with gift buying haha!

  3. says

    Sometimes’ it is not about receiving but giving! I wonder how I would raise my future kids – I have to think so much our of the box and see the bigger picture than to indulge them with gifts.

  4. says

    I’m so OVER buying gifts for everyone! HAHA I would much rather gift something to enjoy like an experience, a membership to a museum, or something that gets you moving. No more toys or junk in this house please…

  5. Pam says

    This is a cool idea and I love the meaning behind it all. I think that 3 gifts were basically what we received as a child and of course only one was a more “costly” one. We always received a family gift of some sort from my parents and that was the most fun.

  6. says

    I love this idea. I have been wondering how to do it to cut back and don’t want to go overboard on Christmas. I think I am going to sit my kids down and have this three gift talk with them. I feel like they are expecting too many gifts when the whole season isn’t even about the gifts.

  7. Janet W. says

    That is so great that you’re teaching your children what Christmas is really about and it’s true meaning! Too many families go way overboard with gifts anyways!

  8. says

    Kiddo has extra families due to her parents being divorced and remarried. So she has a good supply of grandparents, homes to stay and and more. So, a few years ago I finally put my foot down and told hubs that she didn’t need 5 barbies for Christmas. So we adopted the 5 things from Santa. Want, Need, Wear, Read and then something special. It’s worked out well for use the last few years. This year we cut down on gifts from us. I bought a lot due to the sales, but her birthday is in January, then she gets a little Valentines, and we celebrate St. Particks Day and then of course there is the Easter basket. So my shopping is done and I managed to save a lot of money.

  9. says

    This is so great! It’s so important to teach kids and we try to as well. Christmas isn’t all about getting but a lot to do with giving!

  10. Melissa Smith says

    What a great way to help your kids truly understand what Christmas is all about. Because last time I checked, it’s certainly not about getting thousands of dollars of debt to get all the latest technology.

  11. Pam says

    Our kids only got five gifts when they were younger. They were able to focus not only on the reason for the season, but on what they REALLY wanted and valued.

  12. says

    I think we’ve turned the holidays into such a shopping spree that it’s great to not overdo the gifts and to focus on what we’re actually celebrating.

  13. says

    I think this is a very good idea. Kids today Want, Want, Want!! Our traditions change as our family changes and grows. Now, we celebrate at my Daughters house.

  14. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    I think that is a lovely way to teach the kids the real meaning of the day. I love this idea.

  15. says

    Yes, not to mention how many gifts they get from aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. We had a small budget this year, but I still feel like the kids are getting too much “stuff” from us/Santa. My plan next year is to have them pick one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they’ll wear, one thing they’ll read, and then an item of their choice. It’s more than three, but I do feel like it gives a good variety of things, instead of just toys & junk.

  16. Lydia Beyrent says

    Thank you so much for sharing this great idea!!!!
    I LOVE IT!!! this is such a clear way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas, Jesus birthday, & truly separate from the lost madness of meaningless gifts galore! Having the stockings on the side stuffed w/ little gifts is a family tradition I will carry on, but this new -perfect idea of 3 gifts as Jesus received is absolutely brilliant, & will be easy to pass down to keep the message alive!! Good job! I’ll be sure to thank God for this message received through you! :) Merry Christmas!!

  17. says

    I have a dear friend who does that with her two little boys. They only get three gifts under the tree like Jesus. She does include a few gifts in each package they get but it’s still only 3 gifts they actually open.

  18. says

    I LOVE this idea! last year we went a bit overboard and the kids were just overwhelmed. They did not know what to play with! We decided this year we cut back – way back! My 4 year old understands it is Jesus’ birthday, by my 2 year old keeps saying that it is Santa’s birthday.

  19. Nicole May says

    I think that really is a great idea. My kids get so many gifts–from aunts, great aunts, grandmas, and my cousins– that it gets overwhelming! This is a great way to keep it in check–at least on our end!

  20. carol says

    My children were brought up to know the understanding of Christmas but they had many gifts and were so excited on Christmas morning. All the traditions have not been carried on and I think things will change in my house too.

  21. says

    Totally love this idea. My family reads the story of the nativity every year before we open gifts because we want our children to understand why we celebrate Christmas. Big hugs to you for raising your children to value THE GIFT instead of the gifts.

  22. Kat @ For the Love of Chaos says

    I LOVE THIS!!!!! I was just saying the other day in this post: … that I refuse to raise my children to celebrate gifts and associate the annual mark of the birth of Jesus Christ with commercialism and chaos! My step sons have always had everything they wanted for Christmas and now their mom is wanting my husband and I to support this same holiday habit and we just can’t do it. For one, it would mean doing WAY more for them than for the rest of our kids and for two, that is totally NOT what we are celebrating! I absolutely love that your family is doing this and I’m SO inspired by the example you’re setting for your children — not only for the holiday itself but lessons in self control, financial responsibility, and developing non-wasteful habits rather than over-indulging out of want rather than need, necessity or reason! KUDOS to you, sweetheart!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *