Want, Need, Wear, Read: Top Ideas for Creative Gift Giving

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Early in our parenting journey, we heard about, the Five Gift Rule: Want, Need, Wear, Read and it became our Christmas gift-giving strategy. Years later, it is still the method that we use to purchase gift for our kids.

When my children were young, purchasing a few little gifts helped create the perfect Christmas morning. But as my kids began to grow, 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 I have collected a ton of great gift-giving idea for the five-gift rule.

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 for 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.


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.

Creative 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.

Gift Ideas for Kids

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 Collection is a favorite in this house
Kiwi Crate, Tinker Crate, or Doodle Crate for a gift that keeps giving each month!
Razor Ripstiks are popular in this house.
Lego Sets
Plasma Cars were all the rage for my kids
Spooner Boards seem to be a hot item this year
Toys for Kids Who Like to Build
Razor Scooters are a fun outdoor option
A 3D pen is a fun art supply

Gifts for Teens and Tweens

A 3D pen is a hot item this year
Teen Legos: Star Wars Lego Sets and Friends Lego Sets 
GoPro Hero 7
Remote Controlled Drone
Tickets to a Broadway
Tickets to a concert
Hover Board
Kindle Fire or other tablets
iPad Pro

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

Creative Gifts: Something I Need

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

Sports Equipment

Grab some of the items your child needs for the sport they love to play. From athletic gear to sports equipment, there are many options:

soccer ball
new bike
gymnastics leotard
balance beam
kid’s basketball hoop


Grab a special items of clothing that your child needs for the coming season. College students, in particular, often need items like rain boots or hiking boots.

winter coat
tennis shoes
hiking boots
leather jacket

Sperry rain boots

Camping Equipment

sleeping bag

**This is a perfect chance to check out my list of fantastic gifts for kids who love the outdoors.**

Find a list of fantastic gifts for kids who love outdoors.

Bedroom Ideas

down comforter
fun flannel sheets
wall decals
fairy string lights


Kindle case
iPad case
iPhone case

Other Gift Ideas for Something I Need

Nerf bullets
personal care sets (shampoo, lotion, body wash)
make-up brushes
Movie Passes
electric razor (girl, boy)
School Supplies

Christmas Gifts: Something to Wear

Anything that can be worn by your child qualifies here. This can be something practical or something fun. And you don’t have to stick to clothing items.

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 great list of ideas for something to read for your kids who love books

One Gift for Want, Need, Wear, Read

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?

More Gift Ideas for Christmas Gift Giving

10 Christmas Gifts for the Whole Family

Top Magical Gifts for Your Harry Potter Fan

The Best Gifts for a Teen Girl

Toys for Kids Who Like to Build

Creative Stocking Stuffers Your Teen Boy will Love

Unique Gift Ideas for Your Artistic Teen

Additional Gift Giving Ideas:

100 Modern Picture Books

Top Card Games for the Whole Family

Board Games the Whole Family will Love


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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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