Want, Need, Wear, Read

David and I have a lot of stuff. We don’t mean to. In fact, we are minimalists at heart, though you’d never guess it. Besides not needing so much STUFF, clutter drives me bonkers.

Like so many others, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. The kindness  that strangers show each other, the time spent with family, the smell of evergreen candles, watching Love Actually by the fireplace with wine, dancing around to Feliz Navidad in my underwear (just seeing if you were still reading…)

Although I love getting caught up in that stuff, I try my best not to get caught up too much in the other STUFF- in the wrapping and ribbons and gifts and stocking stuffers.

David and I don’t exchange presents. We decided long ago we’d rather put money towards an experience, like a date night or vacation, rather than Christmas gifts. My family also keeps things simple with a white elephant exchange rather than buying gifts for each person. We always have a lot of fun playing the stealing game on Christmas Eve (ah, stealing at Christmas!) and there is never a shortage of laughs. It works well for us! But now that we have sweet Hailey, I’m excited for Santa to come to town.

I don’t believe children needs oodles of presents to feel loved or to understand the meaning of Christmas. However, I’m not a total Scrooge and I do want to see Hailey’s eyes light up Christmas morning when she sees that Santa came. So, what to do?

want need wear read

I’m not sure where I came across this idea because I’ve heard of it from several people, but I’ve fallen in love with it. Basically you get a gift to fit each category. I love that the list incorporates necessity, pure fun and education. I love that it’s simple and keeps Christmas from being excessive. Hailey will have gifts under the tree and hopefully appreciate each one because they won’t be lost in a sea of presents.

Here’s a preview of Hailey’s Christmas this year at 15 months old.

want need wear read- 1 year old

Want – Though she doesn’t want much of anything at this age, I can’t wait to see the fun she’ll have when Santa drops of a new Princess Cozy Coupe. Hailey would play outside all day if I let her and she gets so much joy out of a hand-me-down push cart. I have no doubt she’ll love her new coupe!

Need – We break cups and lose pacifiers around here like it’s nobody’s business. I’m looking forward to having new, insulated cups to try and a second pacifier clip.

want need wear read- 1 year old 2

Wear Now that Hailey is walking, I love putting her in dresses! These two new Gymboree play dresses are going to look adorable on her.

Read – Santa can’t resist Eric Carle or Go, Dog, Go. How could you go wrong?

Santa will also fill her stocking with puree pouches, oranges, balls, leggings and undershirts, egg shakers and a few other odds and ends. I’m excited to see what she thinks of everything Christmas morning, though I have a feeling that wrapping paper and boxes might be the big winners this year!

I had so much fun with this concept, that Hailey and I decided to play elf and put together a similar package to donate to a child in need.

want need wear read- donate 1

Want – Hailey loved her snail so much when she was younger that she decided it was a perfect gift for another child to play with.

Need – Spoons and suction bowls with lids from Munchkin. I loved the bright colors!

want need wear read- donate 2

Wear – Though the temperature has yet to drop very low, I imagine it will and hopefully a child can get good use out of these plush winter suits.

Read – Who doesn’t like a first words book, but my favorite part was the removable flash cards.

A simple Christmas is my favorite. It keeps the focus on the together time and the birth of Christ. Being that it’s easy to get carried away when shopping for kids (I wanted to clear out half of Toys R Us!), I love that this simple outline kept me focused and on track. Now shopping is done and I’m ready to relax!

Do you have a method to Christmas gift giving madness?



  1. says

    I don’t. I need a method. Originally we weren’t going to get our 18m/o anything b/c we had so many birthday leftovers & hand-me-downs (which we’re re-wrapping), and other people that were giving him presents. My husband…well freaked out about that. We’re now up to 4 presents. 3 $5-ish ones, one he bought and I don’t know what it is, and then his stocking with snacks, coloring books, etc. We definitely need a plan for once he starts processing. Like this idea a lot.
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  2. says

    We’re doing “want need wear read” too! Liam is getting a play kitchen for his “want,” Avent training cups for his “need,” a new outfit from Crazy8 and a pair of boots for “wear,” and Berenstein Bear books for “read.”
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    • says

      Oh my gosh, Berenstain Bears are my fav!! H has a decent amount, but still is into tearing pages, so they are on the highest shelf until she’s over that phase 😉
      I think H will get a play kitchen next year- I love them SO much! What great gifts!

  3. Alisha says

    since i dont have children yet, i still buy for all the family, as they do and my husband. but this made me think of my boss’ father. he buys his wife a want gift, a need gift, and a love gift. i thought that was sweet :)

  4. Lauren B. says

    It’s almost as if I wrote this post myself! We have the same philosophy when it comes to Christmas, and so we decided to ask the grandparents to do the “want,need,wear,read” to avoid the traditional mounds of gifts and overspending. It seems like they are really liking the idea- we’ll just have to wait and see if they stick with it! Casey and I are only wrapping up one thing for Jackson- it could be diapers for all he cares at this point! :)

  5. Staci says

    Wow I love this idea!! My husband and I don’t have kids yet but I think this will be a great idea to keep in mind for the future!! I guess it could also work for birthday gifts too!!

  6. Stefanie says

    I LOVE this idea! My husband and I don’t exchange gifts either. We usually will buy/do one big thing that we can both enjoy (one year it was a new TV, this year its getting out of town for a couple of days just us).
    The family still exchanges gifts and I always have trouble with a couple of people. I think I will institue the Want, Need, Wear, Read next year. I think that will be super helpful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Hanna says

    We aren’t using a method for Christmas giving, but I love the idea! You are so thoughtful to give to a needy family. You’re teaching Hailey to give too :) How did you know who to give to?

  8. says

    This is the first year that my live-in boyfriend and I are exchanging gifts. I came across the want, need, wear, read idea on Pinterest and it’s perfect for us. We’re both pretty broke so we often forgo buying ourselves things in favor of buying something for the house, so this has given us a great excuse to finally get things we each will really use. For instance, I bought him a nice dress shirt because he’s still wearing his brother and cousins’ hand-me-downs and I got him a travel mug because we’ve been sharing one for 6 months.
    And as a kid with divorced parents and a step parent, Christmas got tiring from so many presents that I didn’t like or certainly didn’t need. I think this idea will work well for Hailey and your minimalist tendencies.
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  9. says

    I love love love this! I can’t stand clutter and unnecessary junk and honestly, while I love Christmas, I feel like we try to outdo one another with gift giving sometimes. I love the idea of you two putting money towards and experience, something you can really share together versus a gadget or toy. : ) As we got older, my mom started a new tradition of giving us each 3 gifts to symbolize the three gifts the three kings brought to Jesus. It was a cool concept but she didn’t always stick to three, haha!
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  10. says

    This made me think I totally need a method! I think this is a great idea! I definitely l’ve giving this time of year, but hate that I can sometimes feel pressured to buy the really good gifts for people. And I definitely always give to a needy family! That is a Christmas must in mine and my family books. I personally, can’t have a good Christmas if I know I didn’t do anything to help someone who is not as fortunate celebrate a nice Christmas as well!
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  11. says

    We have such a huge family, we usually only give presents to nieces and nephews and with my side since babies are newer we have also drawn names and given one present each. We also do a white elephant gift exchange at my moms. I have a feeling the drawing of the names will probably stop soon since more babies are coming in. We usually get our parents something as well. And we do give each other gifts. Not so much because we need it, but more so because I want our kids to see us giving. It all adds up that’s for sure. It’s crazy how much money you can spend on Christmas gifts. And I’m with you about not going crazy with Christmas gifts, but I will say I think I may have went a little over board this year. I’m probably exaggerating but I think it’s more of the sentimental part of it that this is his last year to be an only child, so why not spoil him a little bit. But he’s pretty much getting what we would have ended up buying him anyways. Merry Christmas Brit! I hope to see you soon!
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  12. says

    First off, I love that you and David do the same as we do…no gift exchanging between us. We always use what we’d spend on a vacation or weekend away or sometimes, photography equipment to share. Most people do not understand how we could not get each other gifts.

    I LOVE this concept and I’m pinning this post for when I have kids someday. Shoot, I might have your whole site bookmarked for when that day comes. Please don’t ever remove your site from the Internet, because I’m not sure what I’ll do. We’ll just have to live closer, right?
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  13. says

    I love this idea. I’ve heard a lot about this system this year especially and it’s great. I don’t have kids, but when I do I hope to do this around Christmas time…especially when they’re little. Plus, other family members love buying for little ones, they can spoil them rotten with gifts. :)
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  14. Monica says

    We are expecting our first in March, and we’ve already started talking about how not to spoil our child (like our neices and nephews are!). One thing we’ve come across is giving only three gifts, to represent the Three Wisemen’s gifts to Jesus. One would be from mom, one from dad, and one from the both of us. We would also do a stocking and a single gift from Santa. We have some time to decide, but that is the rumblings of the idea. I also love that you buy for those in need as part of it. :)

  15. says

    I LOVE this idea! <3 I may have to snag it because it think it's perfect way to celebrate Christmas without going over the top.
    We got A the Eric Carle's ABC's book, his books are simply awesome & I'm a total sucker for good children's books! 😀
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  16. says

    My husband and I have never exchanged gifts in our 10 years of marriage (not for birthdays or Christmas or Valentines). We, too, are all about sharing experiences instead of stuff.

    Having our first child kind of through us for a loop. We don’t want to take away from the Christmas experience, but we don’t want to go overboard with stuff either. So we also chose to limit our gifts. We did want, need and read (this year our son got clothes for his “need”). In the future we might choose to add in the “wear” option if we decide he needs something besides clothes.

    Anyways, glad to see other people out there not joining in on the madness of stuff.

  17. Lindsay says

    I am just catching up on post right now but I wanted to say how much I love this post. We did very little for Edith this year just a few need things and a book from my husband and one from myself. We plan to keep things small for years to come for all of us.
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  18. says

    Good post. I had been checking constantly this kind of website exactly what inspired! Useful info exclusively a shutting down point :) I personally deal with such information considerably. I was trying to get that details for an extended time. Thanks and connected with chance.

  19. John says

    I absolutely hate this! My mom went from giving us a $200 budget to this crap! Now I only get 4 things for Christmas which is my favorite day of the year! Christmas is about making a list of things that you want and receiving some of them! You should not be able to know what you are getting for Christmas!


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