4 Gift Rule: A Minimalist Present System (& Toddler Girl Gift Guide)

4 gift rule, gifting system, present system, 4 gift technique, minimalist christmas
Trying to stay focused on a minimalism journey is the hardest during the Holidays.  Every thought and conversation seems to be on gift giving, the busy nature of the season, and just stuff in general! I’m not at all against giving experiences, but I doubt our 20 month old toddler would be impressed with a gift card or certificate to go anywhere even if it was a super fun activity for her.  I go back and forth with trying to give less materialism and more experiential gifts, but on the other hand I don’t want to short my daughter the joy of opening gifts, and I want her to in turn learn to love giving gifts as well. So we’ve adopted the 4 Gift Rule- we still get to gift but it’s more thought out and limited then just tons of junkie random items that won’t ever be worn or used.  The Rule is as follows: gift something wanted, something to wear, something needed, and something to read. I have also seen some people replace a category with “something to do”- I really like that idea, just maybe not for toddlers! This is our second year of attempting to follow it and I really enjoy it.  I first heard about the idea from my old boss who has five kids- buying multiple gifts for that many can get a little crazy!  This is the perfect fix for large families, or for anyone trying to simplify the gift giving process.

What I love is I can wrap up things my daughter is actually needing and will use.  Things that benefit her learning, like a new book, are perfect gifts and she can still have the joy of opening presents but we don’t have the mass amounts of clutter afterwards. Giving only 4 gifts also means we are purchasing within our means- no piles of presents (which sometimes (usually) means debt) for us this year!

Obviously, it’s hard to judge what a toddler “wants”- so I am really just getting what I want Lucy to have, which is a little crazy, I know.  And the things she “needs” are definitely not totally necessary but as her parent, I do think she needs one new toy that will engage her learning and imagination (so I’m loving the magna tiles!)  As you will see, I have way more than 4 gifts on my guide- they are all just fun ideas that have been inspiring me.  And I’m not going to lie, Lucy is getting more than just one thing to wear- she has outgrown many items so instead of me just replenishing her newly purged closet, I’m wrapping what I have bought! Hey, it’s more presents for her to open and they are items she’d be getting anyways! And technically she “needs” the bigger clothes, right? See, my minimalism really is struggling during this time of year!  But really, I will end with this thought- remember the “1 in 1 out” rule during gift receiving as well.  For whatever comes in, remove something else.  Even with only 4 presents, clutter can add up!

1. mine to love doll
2. magnetic camper toy
3. ice cream cone set
4. Pom-pom yoke sweater dress
5. Cable-knit sweater tights
6. Floral bell ruffle top
7. Magna Tiles
8. I Spy Little Numbers
9. cleaning set
10. Come With Me City Series book
11. madeline book
12. If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

***This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase items through the links listed, I may get a small percentage.  Thank you so much for your support of the blog! 

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My First Attempt at Project 333

Project333, fall capsule wardrobeTomorrow marks the beginning of the third (and final) month of my Fall Project 333 capsule wardrobe! I have to admit, I’m blown away by how little I have had to think of what I wear, but yet I still get to wear my favorite items everyday and I enjoy my outfits. I thought I would get sick of my clothes (and maybe at the end of next month I will) but I sure haven’t so far!

What is Project 333?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Project 333, it is a capsule wardrobe challenge founded by Courtney Carver- see my post here about listening to her at The Tiny Wardrobe Tour.  For 3 months, you wear 33 items (not counting lounge, undergarments, or workout gear). At the beginning of the challenge, I did not include outerwear, because I thought I’d need multiple different coats with our temperamental weather. But after listening to Courtney in person and hear her say to pick a number (any number!) and stick to it, I am including outwear now- and while my number is a little higher than just 33 items (try 40 items), it is what’s working for me.  Sticking to a number has helped me, because now I’m not compensating in that department for the limits in other areas.
 My Fall/Winter Project 333 Items:
  1. black sweater tank dress
  2. madewell black turtleneck dress
  3. madewell grey shirt dress
  4. madewell teal shift dress
  5. taylor stitch linen dress
  6. dark jeans
  7. black jeans
  8. black skirt
  9. navy pencil skirt
  10. denim skirt
  11. green cargo skirt
  12. anthro patterned skirt***
  13. black and white tiered top
  14. chambray button down
  15. blue plaid
  16. yellow plaid
  17. madewell black and white buffalo plaid courier shirt
  18. gray turtleneck sweater***
  19. white ruffle tee
  20. black chunky cardigan
  21. gray tee
  22. j.crew striped tee
  23. objects without meaning blouse
  24. green anthro coat
  25. black puffer coat
  26. gray blazer***
  27. black blazer***
  28. leather jacket
  29. clogs
  30. leopard flats
  31. brown booties
  32. black oxfords
  33. cowboy boots***
  34. black heeled booties
  35. jean jacket
  36. frye boots pair 1***
  37. frye boots pair 2
  38. anthropologie camo jacket***
  39. mustard scarf
  40. red scarf
What I’ve Learned:
In the first few weeks of implementing the challenge, I found out the black booties I had included were much to high and I could hardly walk in them- yikes! Talk about non-versatility right there. My goal is for the majority of my clothes and shoes to be able to go for work, playing with Lucy, and church. So too high of heels are definitely a no-go! I replaced them with a lower heeled option and have been pleased so far, except my new booties have zippers up the side, which are super cute, but they jingle every time I walk- the saying “with bells on” rings (get it? Ha) all too truly for me when I wear them. If you have ideas or tricks for me, please send a comment my way!  I have tried adding medical tape on the back side and it cut down a tiny bit of the noise but not much.
I have also learned that I don’t need 2 pairs of Frye boots, nor a pair of cowboy boots.  I love all my boots so much but I gravitate towards one tall pair and my booties.  Maybe my cowboy boots would be worn more in the summer when there are fairs and rodeos to go to, and sun dresses to be worn with them, so I will be hiding them until then to see if I wear them enough to keep.
I included a patterned pencil skirt that I don’t wear as much as my other more muted and basic bottoms.  I have found I prefer my patterns to be in my tops or fun accessories like tights.  I also think I included too many bottoms and not enough tops (my ratio of 7 bottoms to 11 tops is NOT ideal!)  Sticking to 3-5 bottoms would be better with at least 12 tops.  I have loved wearing dresses, even when it’s getting colder because I just wear tights and layer a jacket on top and am good to go!
Although I wear a “topper” item almost everyday (jacket or sweater), I do not think it was necessary for me to have 2 blazers, a jean jacket, a camo jacket, a leather jacket, AND a cardigan.  That’s a lot.  I wear my leather jacket the most, followed by my jean jacket and the cardigan.  Interesting that my blazers are worn the least, even though I’m working in a business setting!  (Items on my list marked with *** are the ones I think I could have lived without so far.)
The turtleneck sweater was included because the last few years we have had extremely cold Novembers- this year happened to be a November with days in the 60s instead of single digits.  So the turtleneck has been worn maybe three times, max.   I may wear it more this month, but I probably could have survived the whole three months without it.
How I Have Dealt with Shopping:
The only purchasing I have allowed myself are items that I have on a list I keep in my journal (like when I needed to replace my booties), or items for my online shop (which I have also not shopped as much for since I find that when I’m shopping for my “sales closet” some things like to migrate into my “real” closet).  This challenge has curbed my mindless and impulsive shopping for myself which has been freeing and cost saving!  But I will admit, I DID go Black Friday shopping (crazy, right?) but it was to get items for Lucy.  Her capsule wardrobe has shifted quite a bit because growth spurts have left her dresses looking like tops and everything else quite shrunken.  So on to 2T sizes we go, and off to the mall I went for 50% off Baby Gap at 6 a.m.
All in all, this experience has been so fun and rewarding.  I am excited for the last month of the challenge and I’m not bored yet!  I will most likely give myself the first 2 weeks of the year to shop for any key pieces I need for the next round but let’s be real, I think I learned I can survive with less!
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What I Learned from Courney Carver at the Tiny Wardrobe Tour

project 333, tiny wardrobe tour, minimizing, capsule wardrobe

Last Thursday night, I got to listen to Courtney Carver herself, and learn a little more about her background and why she started Project333. It was an inspiring evening that made me want to pare down even more! The timing of the tour coming to Boise was perfect- I have been sticking to my FIRST season of “33” items that started in October and will run through December. I say “33” because my number isn’t quite there (I don’t count outerwear currently- keep on reading to see how that is going!) 

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