Want Need Wear Read- Stop the Chaos!



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How many times over the years have you woken up on Christmas morning to lay out all the packages only to realize there are more gifts than room around the tree? Then after you visit the relatives and bring home those gifts as well, your living room is so full you can hardly walk through it. It’s overwhelming! If you feel this way on Christmas morning, read on to find out more about some great Want Need Wear Read ideas and how they can help?


What Is Want Need Wear Read?

The concept behind this gift giving idea is that each person only receives four gifts. They will get something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. For those who want to try minimalist gift giving, it’s the perfect solution.


Want Need Wear Read helps you focus on gifts that are needed, wanted, and meaningful. It gives you an opportunity to really think about each person and even ask them for ideas. In addition, it also helps to cut down on all the unnecessary gifts we purchase and the horrible aftermath of too many things.


I don’t know about your kids, but mine know exactly what they want. I used to try to surprise them with gifts I thought they’d like, but I’ve come to realize over the years that I didn’t always choose well, and they enjoy having a say in their gifts. I struggled with the issue of them knowing what they were getting, but I have managed to work around that by letting them make a list I get to choose from. This still leaves the element of surprise.


Keep in mind this concept isn’t just for Christmas. It can be used for birthdays and other special gift-giving times as well.

About Heidi

The Four Categories

WANT: The key to finding the right “want” gift is listening to people. When looking for ideas for what someone wants, pay attention to things they say or what they are interested in. Sometimes coming right out and asking is the best way to make sure you are getting them a gift they really want and are going to be excited about.


NEED: This “need” gift is a little different in the sense that you are focusing on an area where something is needed. It could be an accessory for something they already own. Or maybe it’s something that’s going to make someone’s life easier. Watch and listen to see if there is a need you could help out with.


WEAR: Clothing is usually the first thing that comes to mind with the “want” category, and while it may not seem like a fun gift, it doesn’t have to be boring if that is what you choose to get. Everybody has their own personal style, and there is usually a specific brand of clothing people like. For younger kids, there are typically certain characters they like to wear on their clothes. Shoes are always a good idea as well, or perhaps someone in the family likes baseball hats. Use your imagination with this category. It isn’t just clothes you wear! Find something fun you know they would love.


READ: There are a lot of options with the “read” gift so be creative! Find a book, or an item pertaining to books, you know would interest them. Be sure to think about each person’s interests and reading levels when making selections.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some free printable

Want Need Wear Read tags for your packages.


The Benefits of Minimalist Christmas Gifts


No More Feeling Depressed

When we have had Christmases with tons of gifts, I have honestly felt depressed the day after as I looked around at all the “stuff” we got. All I could think about was where I was going to put all of it. Not only that, did we even need all those gifts? What was this teaching my children?


Your Children Will Actually Play with Their Gifts

I know from experience the fewer toys my children have, the more they will play with them. If their playroom or bedroom is filled with overflowing storage bins and things oozing out of the closet, they can’t even see what they have and will forget about them quickly. It’s just too much!   When children receive too many gifts, they seem to focus more on opening the packages rather than what is inside and don’t even want to play with them after. Receiving a few quality items has the opposite effect, and they will appreciate what they get and be excited to spend time playing and exploring the new items they have gotten.


Stay Out of Debt

When we set a limit on the number of presents we are buying (and even set a dollar amount), we are setting financial boundaries to keep our spending in check. The average American family spends approximately $885 each year at Christmas time . I’m guessing many families put that on a credit card. There is no reason for us to go into this kind of debt. It puts unnecessary stress on our family, and many suffer from depression after the holidays due to it. Keep reading to get the tracker I have created for you.


Quality Over Quantity

Getting a few really nice gifts that someone has put a lot of thought and love into is always better than getting twenty gifts that don’t have a lot of meaning. Knowing that someone took the time to personally choose each item is even more special than the gift itself.


Focus on Family Time

We often lose sight of what’s important when our sole focus is on things rather than people. Spending time with family is way more significant than any gift you can give. The get-togethers that are associated with holidays will create memories that have a lasting effect. Building traditions and strenghtening family bonds should be our priority. These are things money can’t buy.     Here is a video about reconsidering lots of gifts.



How to Achieve Your Goal


Make sure your spouse is on board

If you and your spouse are not on the same page, it’s going to be very difficult for this to work. If he or she is resistant, try explaining your reasons and showing the benefits. More than likely once you do that, your spouse will see the advantages of cutting back on your gift giving.


Set expectations with the family

If this is your first time trying to buy less at Christmas or other holidays, it’s best to sit the family down and explain what is going to happen and help them understand the reasoning behind it. Yes, they may not be happy at first, but they will reap the benefits later. Once they know how the Want Need Wear Read concept works, they may get into it and have fun trying to find gifts for family members.


Keep track of what you have bought

Don’t give in to impulse buying just because you run into a good deal. Stick to your goals and financial limits by keeping track of what you have purchased and how much it cost. I have created a spreadsheet for you to use if you would like to do that. You can use it right in Google Sheets. Just make a copy and save it under a different name. Click here to get the Want Need Wear Read Ideas Tracker I created.


Don’t be tempted by holiday sales

If you know you are someone that gets pulled into a good deal, don’t go into stores when big sales are going on. Avoid the stores you are most vulnerable at. Have a list if you do have to go in and stick to it. Resist the temptation to buy. Also, unsubscribe from any emails you know are going to fill your inbox with information about every deal on the internet.


Let friends and family know your plan

Even if your family has agreed to have a smaller Christmas, you could still get bombarded with lots of gifts from friends and extended family members if you don’t share what you are doing and ask them if they would be willing to go along with it. Chances are they will be relieved they don’t have to come up with as many gift ideas for each person, and it will help keep their spending down as well.

Be sure to get your printable WANT NEED WEAR READ TAGS for your packages at the bottom of this post.

Want Need Wear Read Ideas



  • Games- Board or electronic- This one looks fun: Phone Fever Board Game*
  • Toys
  • Things to build- Legos, Lego Friends, Kapla Blocks*, Magnaflex Fun in the Sun Set*
  • Electronics/Tech Items- PlayStation, Xbox, camera, phone, iPhone lens*
  • Art Supplies- Paints, brushes, sketchbooks, pastels, classes
  • Subscriptions- Picmonkey* for the creator in the family, Netflix, box subscriptions like Kiwi Crate, Audible, Spotify, Stitch Fix



  • Electronics- laptop for college, camera for a photographer
  • Bedroom Decor and Bedding
  • Sporting Equipment
  • Shoes and Clothing
  • Personal Care Items- shaver, hair straightener
  • College Materials/Supplies- perhaps helping out with buying a college student’s books for a semester
  • Homeschool Classes or Curriculum like Rosetta Stone* (get a discount through my affiliate link), All About Spelling*, Schoolhouse Teachers Subscription* (a gift that gives all year)
  • Storage Solutions- bookshelf, ottoman with lid, closet organizer
  • Gift cards to help with expenses such as gas and eating out
  • Accessories to items already owned- such as an extra battery, storage case, shoulder strap
  • Something to make their life easier- Subscription to something like Blue Apron or Real Plans (meal planning)
  • Yearly Membership Fees- Sams, Costco, Planet Fitness
  • Organizational items- planners, bullet journal*, personalized calendar



  • JacketsShoes/slippers
  • Hats, scarfs, gloves
  • Jewelry
  • Pajamas
  • Perfume/Cologne
  • Purse/Backpack
  • Clothing
  • Beauty/Nail Products



Other creative Want Need Wear Read Ideas

You could fit these into one of the four categories.

Gifts That Grow

  • Plant
  • Flower
  • Make your own terrarium– these are big right now
  • Give potted herb plants for someone who likes to cook


Eco-friendly ideas

  • Beeswax food covers*
  • Glass containers to replace their plastic
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Set of pretty cloth napkins to replace some paper towels
  • KeepCups* for coffee lovers


Make Do Share Feed




I came across another idea from Disney Baby I thought I would share. These could easily be added on to the Want Need Wear Read or used in place of them if you want to be even more intentional. It’s something to make, something to do, something to share, and something to feed.


This gift is something you make, or it could be something you pay someone else to make.

Homemade coupons for:

  • Doing someone’s chores for them
  • Making breakfast in bed for a family member
  • Make someone’s favorite meal
  • Helping around the house
  • A day off of school (your homeschooler will love this)
  • A date night
  • Going to the movies with mom/dad
  • A trip to the park

Homemade Gifts

  • If you have a talent for things like crocheting, knitting, sewing, quilting, painting, etc., why not make some gifts for people. These are the types of gifts that are treasured and passed down through the generations.
  • Personalized items- engraved or embroidered
  • Something you have custom-made on Etsy


This is the gift of doing something.

Give an experience

  • Classes
  • Tickets to a special event
  • Family outing

Give the gift of time

  • Spend time with your kids as a family
  • Spend some individual time with each family member
  • Visit an old friend
  • Visit relatives
  • Do something someone doesn’t like to do
  • Doing some work around the house



This is the gift of charity. Teach your children it’s better to give than receive.

  • Go to a soup kitchen and serve a meal
  • Donate something to an organization
  • Purchase Christmas gifts for children who aren’t as fortunate
  • Gather up necessary ingredients to provide a meal for a family in need
  • Bake cookies for seniors at a nursing home
  • Search online for organizations you could be a part of. There are lots of them!
  • Check for local programs you could help out with- local shelters, homeless programs
  • Make homeless care packages to handout
  • Hand out gospel tracts


This gift has to do with food. You could get creative here and buy or make something.

Some ideas might be:

  • Homemade treats like a cookie platter or pie
  • Coffee grounds from a local store for the coffee lover
  • A subscription to the box of the month for something they love like chocolate, coffee, or smoothies.


Our Experience




Using the Want, Need, Wear, Read idea has drastically reduced the number of gifts we receive. We enjoy what we get because there was a lot of time and thought put into each gift.


There is no more chaos afterward because there are just a few gifts to put away. My children go and play with their toys because they aren’t overwhelmed by all the choices, and the presents aren’t lost in a pile.


It has relieved a lot of the stress leading up to the Christmas because, with less to buy, I am usually done shopping early and have time to focus on more important things. I actually get to enjoy the holidays!


Have you heard of Want Need Wear Read? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below if you have tried it and how it worked for your family.


 Get your free printable gift tags by filling out the form below.


  1. This site is awesome,

    Our family has adopted many of the techniques you suggest in your article. My neighbor growing up was home schooled and was my best friend. Our family took in the values that they incorporated and have since been handed down to my children.

    We re gift every year. We always upgrade the gift to something new, it really does put a good meaning to Christmas. Thank you for an inspiring read.

    How long has this concept been around? I am curious because we have done it without giving it a name.


    • I love the concept of re-gifting! That’s a great idea! I’m not sure how long the concept has been around. I my have to research that. I’m glad you liked my site. Thank you for reading the article.

  2. Great article and advice for choosing Christmas gifts. For me, it has always been a concern and a kind of problem. While reading your article, I concluded that I was basically following your advice. Choosing gifts for children is much easier than for adults. Keep track and give a message to friends and family about planned purchases, it really needs to be taken into account. Thank you for the concept of Want Need Wear and Read.

    • That’s wonderful that you were already doing this! I feel like Christmas has gotten so out of hand and we are creating children who think they are entitled to things.


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