'Everything is used.' A mum of two has shared her genius "one gift rule" for her kids.

In a series of posts, Brooke Spain, the mum of two behind the Instagram account An Organised Apartment, has impressed parents with her "one present rule" for her kids.

Brooke introduced the rule before her eldest daughter's first Christmas (she's now four), after nine months of relatives arriving with gift bags every time they visited. 

"This is what the girls came home with on Christmas night last year," Brooke wrote in the first Instagram post. 

"They also received gifted days out (e.g. a day at the Aquarium) and money for their future. There were some broken rules - the carrot and the books strictly were in addition to the 'one gift' but overall it was a success."

Brooke explained that in order to make it work for family members, she makes sure to discuss gift-giving early. 

She tells relatives what her daughters need and what's accorded with their values (open-ended play, toys that grow with her daughters).

"We also make sure we’re not Grinch-like in dictating gifts," she continued. 

"The family member ultimately decides on the gift while also respecting our ideas (for the most part). E.g. we prefer to avoid plastic or battery-operated toys."


Brooke said that while it's a learning curve for family members who love to give presents, over time her family has come on board.

"Everything in these photos is used frequently 12 months on," she added.

In the second series of posts about the rule, Brooke explained how to deal with resistance from family members who aren't on board with the "one gift rule".

"Here are 10 reasons why we ask family to follow this idea:

1. The simple maths. If you favour toys that grow with your child you are discarding toys less often. We've barely discarded any. Then you have less space to take on new toys. You can only fit so much in your home. Most of us don’t have the space of a department store.

2. The overwhelm. I believe the girls are overwhelmed if there is too much stuff around them.

3. Engagement. I believe our girls play better and learn more with fewer toys.

4. Waste. I’m confident if my girls were given 87 presents from relatives, they’d resonate with two or three only. That's a lot of wasted money and time and effort buying gifts.

5. Stress. The last thing we want to do on Christmas Day is come home with a boot of gifts with nowhere to store them.


6. Anxiety. Stuff and clutter makes me anxious and that impacts our home.

7. The time. More stuff in your home means more precious time spent sorting, organising, donating, selling unwanted items.

8. An organised apartment. If your home is not organised the leading cause is likely too much stuff. It’s as simple as that.

9. The commercialism. I like nice things. I’d prefer one nice thing over volume. And I’d like the girls to see Christmas as a day to make memories, have full bellies, run around in the sun and laugh until their stomachs ache. Rather than seeing the day as only about stuff.

10. The environment. We’re trying to teach our girls about looking after their environment and we try to model changes in our home that are better for our environment. We’re not perfect but we believe in continuing to make small changes to reduce our footprint."

In the third post of the series, Brooke shared her views on family resistance to the rule and some ideas to overcome it. 

"Here's some ideas to address [family resistance]:

1. Stand in their shoes. Relatives, understandably are very excited to shop for and spoil grandchildren. Acknowledge that.

2. Everyone shows love in different ways. If you’ve read about the five love languages, you’ll know one love language is giving gifts. This isn’t my love language. I do buy gifts but it’s always very thought out and considered. My love language is acts of service. The way relatives show love might be gifts. Acknowledge that and try to find a balance.

3. Don’t be the Christmas Grinch. You're asking family to buy one gift. This doesn’t mean they lose the joy of gift-giving. That one gift could be something your child has been asking for and a really exciting gift. 

4. Convey the message EARLY and consider communicating it in a group way. From memory, we did this by a group text message.

5. Make it a group approach. That is, approach it as an idea that will apply to everyone, not a particular family member. That way one family member doesn’t feel like they are being targeted.


6. Accept that it may not be perfect first go but that over time the volume of gifts will hopefully reduce. If anyone really wants to exceed the one gift, maybe a gift of an experience/day out, a book or some piggy bank money is a good compromise during the adjustment phase. Or a consumable such as food that won’t add to clutter.

7. Make it exciting! When it’s only one gift, a lot of thought goes into it. You want that one gift to be loved. Maybe you could add to the joy and excitement through a WhatsApp or message group bouncing ideas off each other and seeing where you can join forces.

8. Brainstorm other ways family can show their love without additional gifts. 

9. If you feel the need to explain your position, explain. Even if you disagree, hopefully your ‘rule’ can be respected.

10. Listen, but stand firm on the rule. At the end of the day, it’s your home. If relatives want to buy additional gifts perhaps they can keep them at their home."

Brooke ended by saying if you like this idea but haven't raised it with relatives, maybe save it for next year (it's a little too close to Christmas Day). But after December 25, it might be worth mentioning it ahead of birthdays and Christmas next year. 

And if your family is too large and one gift per person is still too much, maybe consider Secret Santa or one gift per household. 

Will you try this one gift rule next Christmas? Tell us in the comments.

Feature image: Instagram/@anorganisedapartment

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