Whitney is a 34-year-old content creator, learning designer, mom of two, and foster parent from Cincinnati, Ohio who recently went mega-viral this past holiday season for sharing her gifting philosophy on TikTok.
In the video, which currently has over 15 million views and thousands of comments, Whitney explains that every Christmas, she and her partner give each of their children only four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
Whitney also mentions that some of the gifts come from a secondhand store, and in addition to the four core gifts, they also fill each child's stocking with gifts/treats to open on Christmas morning and give a gift from "Santa" that contains something they want.
Whitney's "Want, Need, Wear, Read" gifting philosophy isn't brand new (it seems to be on lots of different parenting blogs), but it REALLY got people talking in the comments. Some people loved the idea and found it very practical:
Others said they do the same thing with their families:
And some people didn't like it at all and felt like it took the fun out of gift-giving during the holidays:
BuzzFeed reached out to Whitney, who said that her family adopted the "Want, Need, Wear, Read" gifting method a few years ago, when she and her partner found themselves overwhelmed by the holidays. "The stress of the shopping and finances for us, along with our kids having more gifts than they knew what to do with, was apparent. We also felt like it was incredibly wasteful, because many gifts that either we or our family were giving the kids never were used."
"So, we decided to start giving just four gifts, fill their stockings, and of course Santa would bring them a gift as well. Our gifts became more intentional, and the focus was on quality versus quantity. We feel as though this practice is aligned with how we choose to raise our kids and our family values."
She continued, "Another thing that's important to mention is that we're a foster family, which brings up a few points: First, we tend to be much more conscious of how we are gifting due to our fostering dynamic. For example, if we give our kids and the kids in foster care 25 presents each, and then the child in foster care only gets 2–3 gifts from their parents, how is that going to make the child or parent feel?"
"Second, we want our kids to have consistency with the holidays year after year. The reality is, one year we may not have any kids in foster care staying with us, and another year we may have 2–3. Our gifting budget is the same in both cases. If we give our kids more during the years we don't have foster kids in care, they may grow up resenting us being a foster family."
Whitney told BuzzFeed that she decided to share her gifting method on a whim right after she finished wrapping presents, but she had no idea it would blow up the way it did and garner such a polarizing response. "One positive of filtering through the comment section on TikTok is that you really see how unique each and every person's experience is."
"However, I was shocked to see so much negativity. I had people saying that I was taking all the fun from Christmas, that I won the game of 'who's going to the retirement home,' that I must be REALLY fun at parties (which was sarcasm, but personally I think I actually am), and outrage at the fact that some [gifts] came from a secondhand store. And while some were saying that four gifts is too few, others said it was too many! You name it, you could find it in the comments."
To those who think this kind of gift-giving takes the fun out of the holidays, Whitney said, "I'd just like to remind them that they're seeing a very small slice of our lives. I grew up in a family where we didn't get any gifts, or toys, or even 'essentials' throughout the year, because my parents would save it so we'd have a ton of gifts under the tree to open. The reality was that most of those items, because we were not a wealthy family, were things I would've wanted throughout the year. A new hair brush, a coat, shoes, etc. So, for our kids, if we see something at the store that we think they'll love or find useful, we give it to them. We don't wait until Christmas."
She concluded, "To put it simply and sum it up, we provide for our kids throughout the year — their needs and their wants. The holidays are a time for meaningful gifts, and we value quality over quantity. Our kids are growing up to value gratitude, compassion, and sustainability, among others. Instead of judgment or tearing others down, we can learn from all of the different values, traditions, and experiences."
Couldn't have said it better myself! What do you think of this gifting philosophy? Tell us in the comments.
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