Try “Want, Need, Wear, Read” for Creative Gift Giving

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Early on in our parenting journey, we discovered, “want, need, wear, read” as a Christmas gift-giving strategy and it is still the method that we use each year.

When my children were young, it was easy to purchase a few little gifts and have a perfect Christmas morning. But as my kids began to grow up, they began to bring us wishlists. Long wishlists. Lists full of toys and electronics.

Uh.  No.  I am sorry.  Five-year-olds aren’t going to get cell phones or laptops or every single toy at their friend’s house.

It was time to come up with a better approach to gift-giving at Christmas in a house full of kiddos and I stumbled upon this gift-giving poem. You buy four gifts that fit the poem: Something I want; Something I need; Something to wear; Something to read.

It’s worked brilliantly for years and now I have more ideas for each category every year.

Have you tried creative gift giving using the poem: something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read.

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Want, Need, Wear, Read: Christmas Gift Giving

We had to figure out how to help our kids keep their Christmas wishlists reasonable and varied.  And we had to help ourselves keep our spending in check. Buying fun items for my kids was fun and it was all too easy to keep adding on additional gifts when a good deal popped up.

I stumbled upon a Christmas Gift poem online and it became our gift-giving motto.

In addition to their Christmas Stocking, our children receive 4 gifts:  Something they want.  Something they need.  Something to wear.  Something to read.

The concept quickly became part of our Christmas tradition.

When making their Christmas wish lists, my children fold a sheet of paper in half twice to create four squares.  The squares are labeled: want, need, wear, read.  Everyone makes their wishlist according to the categories.


—-> FREE PRINTABLE: Christmas Wishlist for Want, Need, Wear, Read. <—-

This concept has worked very well for our family.  I enjoy focusing on a varied, yet limited number of gifts while my children enjoy creatively coming up with ideas for each category.

And we are very creative with the categories.

We use this poem for creative gift giving in our house: Something I want, Something I need, Something to wear, Something to Read.

Christmas Gifts: Something I Want

This is the BIG gift. The one that they really really would like to have. It has typically been a toy, but as they have grown, electronics have made the list.


Kinetic Sand – I recommend the 11 lb box with a medium under the bed type plastic bin with a lid to store it and several sand toys.
Nerf Guns – The Nerf Rival Zues Blaster is on my 7-year old’s list this year.
Kiwi Crate, Tinker Crate, or Doodle Crate for a gift that keeps giving each month!
A 3D pen is a hot item this year
Razor Ripstiks are popular in this house.
Hover Board
Kindle Fire or other tablets
Lego Sets My kids have requested Star Wars Lego Sets and Friends Lego Sets in the past.
Plasma Cars were all the rage for my kids
Spooner Boards seem to be a hot item this year
Razor Scooters are a fun outdoor option
Toys for Kids who Like to Build
iPod Touch
Tickets to a Musical or Show
GoPro Hero 7
Remote Controlled Drone

The options are endless because kids typically have plenty of items that they “want” so the challenge is picking the one item within reason.

Christmas Gifts: Something I Need

Kids need a lot of things. You can take this seriously or play with it.

Sports Equipment: soccer ball, new bike, volleyball, gymnastics leotard, balance beam
Clothing: winter coat, tennis shoes, hiking boots, leather jacket
Camping Equipment: sleeping baghammockflashlight
Bedroom Ideas: down comforter, fun flannel sheets, wall decals
Electronics: Headphones, Kindle case, iPad case, iPhone case
Other ideas: Nerf bullets, personal care sets (shampoo, lotion, body wash), make-up brushes, Movie Passes, electric razor (girl, boy)
School Supplies

A great list of practical gift ideas for the kid who loves outdoors.

Christmas Gifts: Something to Wear

Anything that can be worn qualifies here.

Jewelry or Jewelry Making Supplies
Athletic Gear
Movie ShirtsHarry Potter, Hunger Games, Star Wars
Shoes or Slippers
A New Purse or Backpack
Winter items – hats, scarves, gloves

Apple Watch

Christmas Gifts: Something to Read

We interpret this one as anything you can read, even the directions to a new board or card game.

Magazine Subscription
Kindle Fire or Kindle Paperwhite
Board GamesCard Games
Favorite Book Series: Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergent, GameKnight999
Comic Books – We love Calvin and Hobbes
Book Store
Gift Card
“Something to Write” (journals and pens)
A graphic novel: list for elementary or list for middle school

Find a few ideas for "something to read" for your bookworm

Want, Need, Wear, Read for One Family Gift

Using this same poem, there are ways to think VERY outside the box when your child or family has a really big gift in mind.

iPhone as a Gift

Take the iPhone for example. If you are considering a phone for your child for Christmas as their only gift then you can make it work. Write on the box, “This is something you want and something you need. This is something you’ll wear (in a purse or pocket) and something you’ll definitely read.

Or the iPhone can be something you WANT.  A case is something you NEED.  Touch screen gloves are something to WEAR.  And an amazon gift card will buy you something to READ on your Kindle app.

Big Family Trip as a Gift

How about a family surprise trip? We have friends taking their kids to Harry Potter World as their gift. The trip is something they WANT. The purchase of wands is something they NEED. A souvenir shirt is something to WEAR.  And they can READ a menu at the Three Broomsticks and order a meal out.

There are ways to make the items into a complete set. If you WANT the GoProHero+, then you NEED some extra memory, and you’ll WEAR the GoPro headstrap, and you’ll READ your GoPro instruction book. (hey, that GoPro is pricey. HA!)

Do you have traditions for gift-giving in your family?

A printable Christmas wishlist to organize your gift giving using "want, need, wear, read."

More Gift Ideas for Christmas Gift Giving

Best Gifts for a Homeschool Mom

Toys for Kids who Like to Build

Best Gifts for a Harry Potter Fan

Top Ten Gifts for A Teen Girl

Gifts Inspired by a Homeschool Lifestyle

a list of stocking stuffers that are worth the money.

Additional Gift Giving Ideas:


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  1. We do this four gifts rule, too, but I was stumped beyond the “want” gift for both of my kids. I hadn’t even thought beyond clothes for something to wear, or beyond food for something they need 🙂 Including all four into one category is brilliant! I’m definitely sharing this post. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Leah! It is always helpful to “brainstorm out loud” with others through blogging!

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