Three Gifts and Why I Love It {giveaway}

The holidays are stressful.

The end.

I don’t care what you do, how you handle it, or what you try to minimize, it’s just a lot.

Unless, maybe you boycott entirely and move to Siberia for the last two months of the year.  Maybe then it would be less stressful.  But a lot colder too.  Six one half dozen the other.

I’m not the Simplicity Queen, but I do try to find ways to make things even a little bit easier…and if they also make things a lot more meaningful, I’m in holiday heaven.

One of my absolute favorite things we do that curbs major stress this time of year is that we only buy 3 gifts for each of the kids.  I know a lot of families do that, but I typically hear that the reason behind it is symbolism for the 3 gifts the magi brought for Jesus.  I like that idea, and the symbolic nature of it, but that’s not why we do it.

Also, looking at old pictures of my kids.  I love that too.  It reminds me why the heck all of this is worth it.

Our three gifts are 1 from Santa, 1 from Mom, 1 from Dad.

Every family has to do their own thing, but here are the 6 reasons I love our 3 gift per kid system, and why you might like it too:

  1. It majorly cuts down on shopping.  I love shopping, really I do.  I especially love scoring amazing deals.  Gift giving is kind of my love language.  That being said, it means that the tendency to over-shop is RIGHT THERE.  Three gifts per kid still adds up when you have four kids, but it’s a lot more manageable when you’re trying to cross things off your to do list.
  2. It eliminates all that fairness stuff.  So and so has 7 gifts, but the other only has 5…his gifts are physically bigger…her gifts cost more…blah.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  Three gifts.  The end.
  3. It makes the gift that much more awesome.  When I know that I’m only buying ONE gift for Lucy, I make sure it’s a good one.  I pass up all the random Black Friday dolls and tea sets that are SO TEMPTING (she would love that!  and it’s soooo cheap!), and I focus on what is the ONE thing I think she would swoon over.  It’s become a fun challenge as I shop rather than simply tossing stuff into my cart.
  4. It’s become a friendly competition between my husband and I.  One of the keys to this 1 from Mom, 1 from Dad system is NOT TALKING TO EACH OTHER ABOUT GIFTS.  We don’t discuss what we are thinking of getting the kids…we don’t brainstorm…we don’t give each other ideas/hints.  And because of item #2 up there, we are always anxious to see if our one gift was a hit.  And which of our gifts was the bigger hit.  Because we are totally like that.
  5. There’s something special about getting a gift from Dad (that Mom didn’t just put his name on the tag).  In our house (and most, I think), Mom does the vast majority of the shopping year round.  I like the idea that the kids know that Dad specifically picked this thing out for them.  And as they get older, I romanticize the idea that my kids will accumulate trinkets with special meaning.  A bracelet, a pair of little earrings, a baseball bat, a tool set…from dear old Dad that will become treasured pieces.  And yes, from Mom too I would imagine.
  6. It’s really really fun to see the lens each parent see through.  Since I’m only getting one gift, I’m not exactly buying a 5 pack of underwear, so it’s really fun to see the difference between what I buy, and what Andy buys.  I usually go tried and true, wooden, nostalgia…and Andy goes electronic and way above the suggested age level.  Interestingly, I’m watching the kids open the 10 years and up gift thinking “Man, that’s way too old for them…” and Andy sets them up, shows them what to do, and within minutes, I’m proven wrong.  (Also, he almost always “wins” the better gift contest.  Because Dads are fun like that.)

I know that lots of people use the gifts at Christmas as an opportunity to buy stuff the kids need anyway…shoes, jackets, etc.  But that just seems to add another layer of stress to the holidays.  And a bigger price tag!

But mostly, it feels like it dilutes some of the specialness that comes with really super thought out gifts.

Santa gifts are the big things: bikes, skateboards, doll strollers.  I don’t know why we give the Big Guy the credit there, but it’s just how it turned out.  My kids are already starting to figure out that Santa isn’t real, so I’m not sure if we will turn it into a 2 gift system, or leave the big gift and call it a Joint Gift.  We will cross that bridge when we get there.

And yes, we do Santa.  For some reason, I was really honest about the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, but Santa made the cut.  Mama can only do one imaginary figure per year thankyouverymuch.

An extra perk for finding ways to keep stress levels low is that you also lower your chances of stress induced migraines.  If you are a migraine sufferer (like I am!), even the littlest things you can snip here, trim there, lessen all around, can be a huge game changer in how your crazy brain responds.

A few other ways to curb migraine triggers:

  • o   Stick to your regular routine.  Eating, sleeping and exercising as you do the rest of the year can help reduce the chances of getting a headache/migraine.

    o   Manage your time and plan ahead. Coordinate plans and responsibilities in advance with relatives and friends, compose set menus when hosting a party and try to purchase gifts early so you’re not rushing at the last minute

    o   Stay in ventilated spaces. As you browse through the mall, watch out for those scented candles or perfume if you are sensitive to smells

    o   Eat and drink in moderation. Eat, drink, and be merry, but try not to consume sweets or alcoholic beverages in excess, as they could trigger migraines

One other way to curb stress and potentially a few migraines this season?


I mean, right?!

With all of the stress that can come with the holidays, the makers of Excedrin® are hoping to help alleviate some! Enter HERE between November 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014 to enter the “Take a Holiday from Headaches” sweepstakes, where you’ll be eligible for a chance to win daily prizes including gift cards to popular retailers and one lucky grand prize of $25,000 to help with shopping, travel and other holiday expenses – all of which can give anyone a headache.


Excedrin Migraine is also offering one lucky Life Rearranged reader the opportunity to win a $100 American Express gift card!  

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter (3 entries per person).  I’ll pull a winner Saturday, November 30!

Which one of you lovelies is going to win a hundred bucks?!  EEK!


*Disclosure: I am a paid Excedrin® Migraine blog ambassador. Compensation has been provided by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., the makers of Excedrin® Migraine; my journey for a migraine-free experience is my own.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Latest posts by jeannett (see all)


  1. 52

    Trying to get an earlier start this year preparing.

  2. 53
    Mary Happymommy says:

    Enlist the help of your husband and kids in the meal preparation.

  3. 54

    So no to trying to do everything and going everywhere. Pick the best nd your favorite things to do.

  4. 55

    I usually always buy gifts online so I’m not tempted by what’s on sale, that’s not on my list

  5. 56

    Your ideas are the best!! I have no stress relievers for the holidays.

  6. 57

    I plan ahead and do something small everyday that will help ease the stress of upcoming events. Thanks!!
    Susan´s last blog post ..GIVEAWAY: Thankful for YOU!

  7. 58

    Its so funny that you say you tell the truth about the EB and TF but Santa “made the cut”. We’re the same way. Even this past Easter my then 7-year-old was talking to me about Easter Baskets and I explicitly told her: Mom and Dad do your baskets, there isn’t an Easter Bunny, and she was like “yeah right, Mom, there is, he leaves the chocolate”. OK, whatever!

    This year our family is heading in separate directions – my hubby and son are going to the STates (we live in Australia) for 2 weeks and I’m taking my daughter to Singapore whilst they are gone. We’ve decided to make them coupon books that they can redeem along their trip – they are basically things we’d do anyway, but this will be a tangible way that a 6 and 8 year old can understand “your trip IS your Christmas present”.

  8. 59

    I started my Christmas shopping early. I normally wait until after Thanksgiving and realize that “on no, Christmas will be here soon!”. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am well over halfway done with shopping. It has been a huge relief.
    Liz´s last blog post ..Our Growing Peanut

  9. 60

    I like the 3 gift per kid idea! That would certainly ease the budget stress around here. In my husband’s family we draw names so we only have to buy for one other adult. That makes my shopping list much shorter!

  10. 61

    I’m an aunt to 5 amazing kids. It’s easy to buy lots of presents when they are little because everything is so darn cute! As they have gotten older, I have really put more effort into their gifts. I limit myself to giving one really fabulous gift from their favorite aunt(!) and they look forward to my gift. I also tend to shop year round for their Christmas/Birthday gifts-always on the look out for something special they will love. It helps so I don’t feel rushed and over spend. :)

  11. 62

    Keep it simple-don’t stress out about the perfect gift

  12. 63

    I love the idea of 3 gifts per kid! We have 4 little ones also & you’re right…adds up so quickly.
    Thanks for sharing and for the opportunity!
    Happy Holidays!
    Jaimie´s last blog post ..Etsy Update

  13. 64

    My husband and I start shopping for our daughter in October. She is finished, so we just have family members gifts to buy. Getting our daughter done early does help relieve the stress. But like you, a migraine can throw a wrench in to everything! So I am very careful about sticking to my routine-LOTS of water, sleep!, exercise. I can tell just the slightest headache when I haven’t had enough sleep or hydration. We do 3 gifts also, but I really like how you pick one and Andy picks one. I’m sure my husband would be just like Andy and get the really cool, over age gift and she would love it way more an mine! We will have to try that next year! Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. 65

    I just suffered one of my award winning migraines on Tuesday….and we were booked to play an hour set of our family’s gospel bluegrass. It was one of the worst headaches I’ve gad in a long time….horrible nausea….sensitiviry to light, sound and smells….horrible pain. I use Excedrin migraine and it helps. Thank you for the giveaway! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

  15. 66

    I unfortunately do not get to spend Christmas with my family other than by web cam. So my tip might not work for many of you. I no longer run around buying gifts that may or may not fit that someone else may buy also and try rushing to the post office to mail them in time for Christmas arrival and spend a fortune on postage. I now mail my wonderful daughter-in-law a check and have her do the shopping. Everyone is happy and the things I have made during the year are sent out in November so I have no last minute stress.

  16. 67
    Lisa Brown says:

    i try to reduce it by taking walks or exercise to release the pent up energy. Also, just sitting and have a cup of coffee with my husband and talking about things helps to relieve the holiday stress.

  17. 68

    I avoid holiday stress by shopping online…no crows, no lines, quick and easy :)

  18. 69

    I try to reduce stress by shopping for gifts throughout the year, picking up the perfect things when I see them. That way I at least have a head start on shopping.

  19. 70

    Deep clean AHEAD OF TIME…then tidy up often.

  20. 71

    I love to do pilates.

  21. 72

    I try to spend a lot of time with our five kids – we love to bake and play games. And Christmas brings out the family fun time.
    tammigirl´s last blog post ..Kindle Fire Giveaway

  22. 73

    I do part of my shopping online. If I can get the items I want at Amazon, at a sale price, and get them delivered~ that’s a win! I will go out tomorrow to do a little shopping on Black Friday, but NOT early in the morning! We mainly do gifts for the immediate family, and small gifts for the kids, so I don’t have huge number of people to buy for.

  23. 74

    We stress less but putting aside money each month for Christmas!

  24. 75

    I typically make christmas ornaments for friends and family. This year I was making them during the summer months to get ahead.

  25. 76

    Online shop!!!!!!!! And get my hair done! ;)
    Danavee´s last blog post ..Lately…..

  26. 77

    We do something similar, but it’s 4 gifts. Want, need, wear, read. That and shopping online!
    Alyson @Vintage Sunshine´s last blog post ..eleven twenty nine thirteen

  27. 78

    I drink lots and lots of water!!

  28. 79

    I do lots of yoga and drink hot tea and cocoa to relax!

  29. 80
    Nataly Carbonell says:

    I have a to-do list. This really helps getting things done and purchased.

  30. 81

    i’m a list person, so i list out everything i need to worry about and when (before, during, after the holidays, etc.). then i focus in on just the things at the top of the list and forget about the rest until the time comes!
    b @ then there was we´s last blog post ..thanksgiving prep


  1. […] Three Gifts and Why I Love It by Jeannette at Life Rearranged (implementing this idea! Clay has way too much stuff!) […]