Want, Need, Wear, Read + ?

Want, Need, Wear, Read…

There are posts on blogs, all over the internet, about the “Want/Need/Wear/Read” and variations on it. Adam and I are working on adopting this – with Asha in the picture as well as an international and travel-heavy lifestyle, we want to avoid the idea of quantity and work on quality. It makes no sense to buy new $20 jeans every year, for example, when we can spend $50 and get a pair that will last 4+ years. I have not yet been convinced of raw denim being worth $180+ a pair… especially with a toddler to consider!

We have a going “gift ideas” list on a Google doc that we share with whoever wants access – we add and subtract from it regularly. It helps us control our spending because we have tagged what we want and need (and other categories besides), so that when we’re ordering from Amazon, or somewhere on a home leave or vacation, we can check items off the list. Is it on the list? Is it a deal? Is it something we can’t get anywhere else, or should we keep bargain shopping? Adam and I shop for each other off of it for things like Mother’s Day/Father’s Day and birthdays. It encourages us to also do more research and be more thoughtful about the kinds of purchases we want to make for ourselves. There’s nothing on the list that we don’t intend to purchase for ourselves down the road, so we’re also not asking anyone to buy something for us we would not spend the money on ourselves. Once Asha is old enough to voice her own interests, we’ll let her add things of her own.

Living overseas, we have a lot of very generous family members – boxes get sent, or gifts are bought while we’re back – from plane tickets to shopping trips and everything in between. We appreciate their generosity, and when we look at our home here at Woodstock we stare at all the things that have come with us over the years. We know one day we will move, and the idea of packing up all of it and moving it is a bit terrifying! With that in mind, we’re trying to focus on that quality over quantity, and a smaller number of gifts means we have less to worry about transporting – both to and from our trips, as well as when we eventually depart from here.

The idea behind Want/Need/Wear/Read and its other iterations (some add Watch, Listen To, Eat, Donate/Give, Do [in terms of an experience/activity], or other things important to that family) is to simplify the Christmas/other occasion gift-giving, particularly when you’re looking at large families. Some say “You’re only going to get four gifts, that’s it”, and in others it’s four gifts from each person, or four gifts from each couple/family in the case of aunts and uncles and cousins, or other variations of that, too. For small children who believe in Santa, there seems to also be a gift from Santa usually included. We’re not entirely sure how we’re going to do this with Asha, except that as her parents, we’ll be getting her four gifts. Adam and I will probably get each other four gifts that meet those criteria, too.

Our friends the Fidlers have a family tradition that is similar, including the Give/Donate aspect; every year some money gets put into Kiva or a similar setup, and it becomes a cyclical donation that can increase its effectiveness every year and help even more people. Adam and I would like to start something similar – and get Asha in on the idea when she’s old enough, too. My mother raised me with donating part of my allowance to charity (go figure, I adopt a humpback whale… who is then found beached somewhere and dead. Greaaat!), and Adam and I donated to Heifer International in lieu of wedding favours at our weddings. One year for Christmas some of his family donated on our behalf to a charity, and we appreciated that as well.

This year from us, Asha will be getting a toy (want), a Christmas stocking (need), some clothes (wear), and a book (read) – haven’t decided exactly which book yet. Possibly The Hockey Sweater, as Adam talks about it very emotionally! I’ve already picked out Adam’s Christmas gifts – it’s now a matter of getting them to the appropriate locations. We’ve also thought about integrating this for birthday gifts — I’m definitely inclined to do it for Asha when she gets older to set the kind of expectations we’d like. Adam and I tend to forget to gift each other things for birthdays, so I’m not going to even think of setting a four-gift expectation as a standard! 🙂

If you’re curious about the idea – here are few blog posts to get you started.

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