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    • My wallet cries in December. As I get older, it seems the list of those to shop for grows at an unnerving rate. For me, this is due to marrying into a large family, numerous nieces and nephews born each year and Secret Santa/Steal-a-gift games. It's fun and thankfully I find as much enjoyment finding gifts for my family as seeing them open it up so at least it hasn't become a chore or duty. Now that I have a toddler of my own, I'm trying to reign in the craziness of gifts that no 17 month old needs at one point in time. I may not be able to control what the grandparents give him (believe me, I tried) but I can at least control our own family celebration and traditions. I've just recently paid attention to the concept about the 4 gifts rule and I must say, it is pretty interesting. Limiting it to just four - want, need, wear and read seems to be a great tradition to begin. He is probably still a bit too young since at the moment he doesn't care if I gave him an empty box vs 10 gifts. But maybe after this year we may consider it for future celebrations.

    • With our 6 month old we are about to have our first Christmas, and we are not sure what is going to be like with the Grandparents. My wife has been talking about the want, need, read policy in the future, and I think it sounds great.

      I think there is some merit to limiting the quantity of gifts, especially for a younger child; they may only remember one thing they got for a given Christmas or birthday anyway. We want to focus more on traditions for our nuclear family as those seem to be what my wife cherishes most.

      For example, one that's big in her family is everyone getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear overnight and waking up in for opening presents. Maybe that can fit under "Something to wear"?

    • I came across this study the other day and found it fascinating.

      The researchers observed that toddlers who had fewer toys to play with seemed to focus better and play more creatively:

      We tested the hypothesis that an environment with fewer toys will lead to higher quality of play for toddlers. Each participant engaged in supervised, individual free play sessions under two conditions: Four Toy and Sixteen Toy. With fewer toys, participants had fewer incidences of toy play, longer durations of toy play, and played with toys in a greater variety of ways. This suggests that when provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively.

    • Fascinating topic. It seems to me most of us in Western countries are experiencing an embarrassment of stuff for our kids. It's so available and cheap now, and so convenient to 1-click, that Christmas with children has become surreal. They open one present after another, and I never know what happens to the presents. Aren't there too many to keep track of and don't their rooms fill up?

      So we have taken to giving them special experiences. I know that doesn't work for very young children, but around age 4+ they seem to cherish something like a night at Safari West and they never forget it.