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The Three-Gift Christmas Tradition

The Three-Gift Christmas Tradition

Are your children’s never-ending wish lists stressing you out this season? Today, I welcome Karen Ehman, The Better Mom contributor and my two-time co-author, to encourage you with a three-gift tradition her family started over 20 years ago. -XO, Ruth


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 is our decision as brand new parents to simplify the Christmas gift giving and NOT spoil and splurge on our kids, giving in to their every whim and going into debt in the process.

When our oldest, Kenna, was born over 25 years ago, we began the tradition of giving the following to our kids each year.

  • One thing to open on Christmas Eve. This might be pajamas and a stuffed animal to sleep with as they tried to fall asleep with all the excitement. As they grew older, it was pajamas, slippers, or a new bathrobe.

  • In the morning, they open their stocking full of treasures and treats. Usually there is some homemade goodie element to this. I’ve tried my hand at homemade peanut butter cups, cherry-almond granola, spiced, glazed pecans, and even teriyaki beef jerky!

  • And then, on Christmas morning, the kids open their three gifts from us.

Yep…. that is not a typo. I said three. After all, that is all baby Jesus received. Remember gold, frankincense, and myrrh? (And as a side note, do you know there is no mention in the Bible of there being just three wise men who came from the east to see Jesus? Nope. It never tells us how many there were. It does, however, name the three gifts Jesus received. And then there is the whole “We three kings of orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar” song, which I’m sure contributed to the notion that there were just three kings. However, we don’t know for sure just how many came.)

Where was I? Oh yes. Three gifts.

Are you overwhelmed by trying to find the perfect gifts for your children this Christmas? What if the process could be simple? Meaningful? And directly point your children of the story of Christ's birth? Join us to learn about an amazing tradition of gift giving that does just that!

Anyhow, when our three kings….I mean our three kids, (See? Now that song is stuck all up in my head!) were younger, we began the practice of giving them each a gold, a frankincense, and a myrrh present. Here is the concept:

GOLD GIFT– this present, like gold, is a highly desired item. Precious. Maybe even a little pricey. Hey, it’s Christmas. If you can afford to give them a big-ticket item, do it. It is biblical. (See: Matthew 7:11)

FRANKINCENSE GIFT- Because the real frankincense used at the time of Jesus’ birth 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 Spotify subscription so they can listen to praise music, or tickets to an event or concert. (Make mine Mack Brock or Lauren Daigle, please.)

MYRRH GIFT- Myrrh was a burial spice used to cover the whole body, preparing it for its final resting place. So, the myrrh gift does the same thing. It goes on the body somewhere from head to toe. In past years this has been a new coat or piece of jewelry for our daughter, a hunting jumpsuit and camo boots for one son, or for our other son an official football jersey in the name and number of his favorite player.

With a little imagination, you too can come up with your own family’s three-gift tradition. It not only helps to simply things for mom (and dad) when it comes to buying gifts, it also helps the kids to know what—and what not—to expect come Christmas morning.

P.S. Moms, here’s something just for you! My annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways starts today on my blog here. Join me and my 11 special guests (including Ruth Schwenk) as we share traditions, tips, and recipes, not to mention fabulous giveaways, to help make this December one to remember!

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