1st Day of Christmas Giveaways with Karen Ehman

Our family's 3 gift tradtion. On the 1st Day of Christmas Giveaways at karenehman.com

Welcome to the 1st Day of Christmas Giveaways!!!

For the next 12 days, I will be featuring a special guest sharing a Christmas idea, recipe, or favorite memory with you. They will also offer a giveaway of the day and toss out a simple question about the topic of the post. To join in on the fun and be entered to win the various prizes, simply leave a comment on the post answering the question of the day. ALSO—one grand prize will be given to one person who comments on all 12 days. Are you ready? Here we go.

I am going to kick things off today a favorite idea what we have done for our children over the years, especially when they were small. But first, today’s giveaway AND the grand prize.

Today’s giveaway is this darling Christmas apron and wooden spoon from ALynn’s Aprons Etsy shop and a $25 Target gift card.

Day 1 Giveaway! 12 Days of Christmas at karenehman.com

The Grand Prize is a $50 gift certificate to Proverbs 31 Ministries store and a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com!!!

Now, for today’s post….

The 3 Gift Tradition

While my husband and I have made many mistakes and missteps in the rearing of our brood resulting in some “I wish we could go back and do that all over again” feelings, there is one decision we have never regretted. That was our decision as brand new parents to simplify the Christmas gift giving and NOT spoil and splurge and give into their every whim going into debt in the process.

When we became parents over 20 years ago we began the tradition of giving these items at Christmas:

  • One thing to open on Christmas Eve –usually pj’s, slippers, a soft throw blanket, a stuffed animal to sleep with—something they can use right then as they try to fall asleep with all the excitement.

  • In the morning, there is a stocking full of treasures and treats. (This is where I am tempted to overspend!)

  • And then, they open their three gifts from us.

Yep…. that is not a typo. I said three. That is all baby Jesus received- remember gold, frankincense and myrrh? When they were younger, the categories were: one thing to play with, one thing to read, and one item to wear.

Over the years, we morphed this tradition into a gold gift, a frankincense present, and a myrrh package. Here is the concept:


This, like gold,  is a highly desired item; precious; maybe even pricey. An electronic gadget, tickets to a professional sporting event, a new hunting rifle, a fancy coffee maker for our adult daughter.


Because the real frankincense was burned during prayer and arose heavenward, the gift in this category is something that will draw them closer to God. Perhaps a new Bible, a book series, a CD, or tickets to an event or concert.


This is a burial spice used to cover the whole body. So the myrrh gift does the same thing. It goes on the body. In past years this has been leather boots and a new coat for Kenz, a hunting jumpsuit and camo boots for Mitch, or Spence’s favorite Detroit Tigers player jersey and pair of tennis shoes he really wanted.

Since our kids knew the number of items was limited, they didn’t expect oodles of gifts, just three. And we also included them when we shopped for a less-fortunate family we adopted each year.  We also took them along when we delivered the gifts to the family. It was good for them to see that we used some of the money we would have spent on more gifts for them to purchase for a family who might not be able to afford any gifts.

The three gift tradition. Try it out this year!

Okay….today’s question. What is your practice when it comes to gift-giving? Any traditional gift you get your kids or friends each year? Any clever gift idea you’d like to share?

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  • Posted in reply:

    Merry Christmas! Advent Blessings!

    We have a wide ‘adopted’ family that has evolved over the years. Our youngest boys grew up with step brothers and a step sister, two foster kids who lived with us for 5 years, my brother living with us, my father living with us and the neighborhood boys coming in and out. Christmas traditions were decorating, watching the neighbors set up the big nativity scene outside, Christmas Eve church and choir, coming home and opening one present and then in the morning stockings.

    We would make a big pot of coffee, homemade cinnamon rolls and open presents – each person one at a time. There weren’t many presents – except for one year. Some group ‘adopted’ our foster boys for gifts. We received so many gifts – wrapped and not wrapped, food, and some funds of the house bills. All of our boys saw those presents and immediately asked if they could give them to other kids who weren’t so fortunate at Christmas. We kept a few for the boys and gave the rest to a charity.

    Now the boys and girls are grown and our kids range from 28 – 40. A young lady adopted us 10 years ago and she is a full member of our house – six adult kids and 6 grandkids! Each Christmas (Easter, Thanksgiving, any celebration), they gather up their friends who have no place for Christmas and bring them home for dinner, sometimes for longer ( a week, month or more). We are blessed to have generous hearted children who are willing to reach out to others and offer the gift of a genuine welcome.

    Our house is full and we are blessed by each person who enters our door.

    Vicki Butler

  • We stick to the “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” rule for gifts.

  • My husband’s love language is gift giving so we have negotiated down to 3 fun gifts. We do probably over indulge since the reading and clothes gifts are not included in the 3.

  • When I was young, we had nieghbors who had no children. Every year he would dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and bring presents to our home on the night Christmas Eve. Of course there was the one present we could open…pajamas! The others we would have to wait til morning. When I became a mother I always let my kids open the pajama present and we read the Christmas Story before bed. This year I will spend Christmas Eve night with 2 of my grandchildren, where I can bring pajamas and read the Christmas Story before bed. What a blessing!

  • It’s tradition for my daughters to get a new devotional each year for the family. We also get a family board game. Our newest tradition is wrapping all of the presents with only three types of wrapping paper and the girls don’t find out until they open their stocking and find a sample wrap in the bottom! It’s fun to hear them get excited! We also read The Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. We also usually do new jammies for Christmas Eve.

  • We usually set a dollar amount and buy for each of the 3 kids accordingly. This very often leads to excess…I am hoping to institute (next year) your 3 gift ideas- LOVE THAT!!! We buy large gifts for the extended family and small gifts for friends and church families…it leaves me “spent” each year…I need to simplify, desperately!!

  • Growing up we read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve and got one present each. We do this with our son now. Daddy works nights and sometimes isn’t there, but my son knows he has this to look forward to before bed on Christmas Eve.

  • Will be passing this post along… Praying certain eyes will notice and take note. Back when my boys were lil….they didnt get much .Wish we could do it over. Lovely ideas here.

  • Because my husband is usually in the barn when the kiddos wake up on Christmas morning, the boys were allowed to open their stockings before Dad came home. The can grab their stockings and land on my bed and open gifts. This is a great thing for them to look forward to and then there can be a break before opening what is under the tree.

  • Growing the traditional gift was a movie in the stocking, now since movies are now in digital form or rented from redbox mainly, we’ve stopped that. This year I’m going to start one with my two young kids of getting pajamas Christmas Eve to wear to bed that night.

  • When my kids were small we opened one gift on Christmas Eve – usually pajamas! It got them excited and ready for bed so Santa could come!

  • I make people presents that I think they will like. I’m giving them a piece of myself, so it’s more than a gift!

  • Normally we’d overspend and still feel empty somehow. This year we are trying something new. It’s hard to practice restraint this time of year but we are implementing a 3 gift rule and a stocking from us. We didn’t attempt to restrain the grandparents but for us it was important to get meaningful gifts. We also give little happies to our close friends and pack operation Christmas child shoe boxes this year. The shoe boxes were my oldest’s idea.

  • Our family opens gifts to each other on Christmas Eve and then presents from my husband and I the morning of Christmas. We always had breakfast first and then read the Christmas story together with prayer following before we opened presents. We felt that way we were showing our first priority for even this day was Jesus!

  • We don’t really have a gift giving tradition. Mommy and daddy give the kids a gift of new jammies Christmas Eve, and then Santa get credit for all the gifts on Christmas.

  • This will be mine and my husbands 2nd Christmas together as a married couple. We haven’t really figured out a tradition for us yet. When I was single I would just spend spend spend. I’m thankful for my husband because he sets a budget for us and it is helpful for me to not overspend. The comments are great and I appreciate the ideas. I definitely would love to incorporate the 3 gifts and a stocking into our family.

  • we read the Christmas story from the Bible every Christmas Eve after coming home from our church candle light service. Wish we had done the three gift idea when our kids were little! That is awesome

  • I love this gift idea….I will try to steer closer to it. The traditions we do do are before christmas, from my childhood is driving around looking at lights (quality time) with hot cocoa. I finally have my hubby on board the last few years so I don’t feel like a single parent when we do it any more. The other is “What God Wants for Christmas”. My kids have always been touchy-feely with nativity scenes so this one (made for kids) with the story really builds up the anticipation of our gift to God. I loved the other comments here and will like to try some of the other ideas so as to be more intentional about the real message of Christmas- I liked the idea of Santa’s gift for the family with an emphasis on the real reason for the season.

  • We try to limit gifts as well, usually we give each child a book, new pajamas, and a “toy” on Christmas eve and then something they want more on Christmas morning.

  • Love the 3 gift idea. I’ve also heard about doing 4 gifts but having it be something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. We usually do one or two presents. This year one of the kids’ presents is going to see the new Star Wars movie. I like the ideas of “experience” gifts—they don’t clutter the house but they fill the heart. My parents got the kids a season pass to our local museum- love it! We can use it over and over and we’re creating memories not mess and stress. :-)