Want Need Wear Read Gift Approach + Christmas Printable

Grab this handy Want Need Wear Read Christmas Printable for your kids to help streamline their holiday wish lists this year.

want need wear read printables

It may seem counterintuitive when you want to encourage your child to play with something besides a screen, but there are tons of benefits to kids having fewer toys.

And when you give your child a few carefully selected gifts (not random junk just to make the Christmas morning haul look exciting) those gifts can have a much bigger impact.

The Want Need Wear Read Gift Rule

I started looking for a more minimalist approach to gift giving back in 2008. I had a hobby blog about green gift giving. And while it focused mostly on eco-friendly gift ideas and how to wrap them sustainably, I realized that I was still promoting “stuff” culture.

I also had two little boys who loved toys. And one year, sitting atop a heap of LEGOs, my oldest announced that he was almost finished with his gift list.

The top five items on that list?

New LEGO sets.

So… yeah. We all want the holidays to be magical for our kids. But how do we balance our desire for seeing our child’s eyes light up on Christmas morning with our desire to live a less consumerism-focused life?

Even more importantly, how do we help our child gracefully realize we can still be content, even when we don’t get everything we want?

It’s all about helping your child shape their expectations of gifts during the holidays.

One way we’ve learned to enjoy gift-giving while helping our children develop realistic expectations is teaching them how to prioritize. And the brilliant philosophy we’ve followed (mostly) for the past decade and a half is the Want Need Wear Read approach to gift giving.

With the Want Need Wear Read approach, each child gets…

♥ something they want

♥ something they need

♥ something to wear

♥ something to read

Why Limit Your Child’s Gifts?

You might love watching your child wade through a pile of gifts on Christmas morning. And maybe you’re great at rotating toys.

No one is here to steal your joy. Seriously. I’m a fan of letting people have their fun and do what makes them happy.

But if having too much stuff around messes with your nervous system or if a big holiday isn’t in the budget this year, paring down to fewer gifts can be good for everyone.

My husband and I talked about this four gift rule for a couple of years before we tried it. We both worried that it might be depressing to watch the boys come downstairs on Christmas morning to fewer presents.

But when I realized that, all year long, I was relegating myself to a house full of unnecessary stuff just so my kids could have an exciting moment one morning of the year… now that was a reality check!

We adopted Want Need Wear Read that next holiday, and it’s amazing how much calmer it has been for our family – and especially me. The kids open meaningful gifts on Christmas morning, and yes, they still end up with a little too much from the grandparents so they’re certainly not deprived.

But mostly I love that we’re teaching them that the holidays aren’t just about stuff. As the kids get older, we’ve been able to do more giving back, and that reflects the true meaning of the season. It’s also the example I’m far more happy to set for them.

While you can’t always control what other people give your kids, you can set the expectation of what they’ll get from you. If you’re willing to try to ask family members to cut back on toys, here are some tips that might help.

Want Need Wear Read Christmas Printable


Encouraging your child to prioritize their wish list can help them learn to make choices and cope with disappointment. If your child shows you a long list, ask them to choose the top one or two things they really want.

We created this easily printable holiday wish list, and gift tags, in Want, Need, Wear, Read fashion to help guide you and your child through the list-making process.

And our adorable printable gift tags bring a little extra excitement to gift-opening time!

Want Need Wear Read Gift Ideas

Odds are – your child needs no help adding things to the Want category. But you can always check our eco-friendly gift guides if you need inspiration. So, these ideas will help you with the Need Wear Read parts of your new Christmas tradition.

Need Gift Ideas

I’m an adult and I still get wants and needs confused sometimes! But really, there’s always something your child needs. Based on our kids’ hobbies, we’ve done everything from new baseball cleats to sheet music.

Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • sports equipment (cleats, ball, glove, hockey sticks)
  • new bed or bedding
  • baby gear (stroller, car seat, high chair)
  • backpack
  • headphones
  • watch
  • reusable water bottle
  • luggage
  • swimsuit
  • beach towel

Wear Gift Ideas

Pajamas are a simple way to fill this box for little ones. As they get older, they might have more opinions on what they want to wear. We let our kids

  • new coat
  • gloves / mittens
  • jewelry
  • favorite band t-shirt
  • sports team shirt or jersey
  • sweater
  • headbands or hair accessories
  • makeup
  • shoes
  • socks (functional or fashionable)
  • slippers

Read Gift Ideas

There’s nothing like a great book. And actually, this is the category where I can’t wait to see what they choose each year.

There are so many popular books and series for kids, so this gift depends on your child’s interest and reading level.

If your family follows an alternative type of gift giving during the holidays, we’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share your traditions for giving back or reducing the amount of stuff involved.


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