I’ve been writing quite a lot lately about holiday shopping and gift-giving (‘tis the season, after all!). From My Breakup with Holiday Shopping to gift-giving tips and tricks, I’ve come up with some practically foolproof ways to shop for your loved ones without compromising your budget, your principles, and your sanity. Another thought that I recently had was about how to shop for kids during the holidays.

I often find that parents lose their minds (and break their budgets) trying to give their kids the perfect gifts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve organized kids’ bedrooms to uncover gifts that were never taken out of their packaging, or toys that never got played with. And the kids have the same shame and anxiety that adults do about getting rid of a gift. Young or old, people don’t need more stuff, they long to be seen and known. Even the stuff they ask for is in service to being seen and loved as they are for who they are.

When it comes to gift-giving, especially for kids, they really don’t need more stuff. Instead of trying to outdo yourself every year, try to show them that you see them with 6 personalized gifts for the children in your life.

When shopping for kids, a great rule of thumb is to remember the Gifting Rule of 6:

Holiday Gifting Rule 1–Gift One Thing They Want

To me, this is something fun! A game, a toy–something that brings a smile to their face. I actually use this rule for everyone. I mean, who doesn’t want something fun? My brother and I always give each other toys for Christmas. I can’t imagine giving or getting him a strictly serious gift. It’s one of the things I love most about us, and it always takes me back to our childhood. Plus this one’s easy because every kid already has an exhaustive wish list.

To save your budget, determine a price range or cap in advance, then simply choose the item from your child’s wish list that matches.

Holiday Gifting Rule 2–Gift One Thing They Need

This holiday gifting rule is pretty easy too. New sheets, check. Water bottle, check. School supplies, check. My two favorite places to shop for necessities (actually for everything!) are Target and Amazon because the choices are endless and the prices are just right.

Holiday Gifting Rule 3–Gift One Thing to Wear

Okay, so I’m of the mind that it’s not really just one thing in this case. I recommend that when buying kids something to wear, that you actually buy a whole outfit. This can actually help prevent you from buying something that’s maybe a more expensive novelty item of clothing and so it doesn’t really go with anything. Trust me, if you’re not buying for your own kids, their parents will love you for this. If they are your kids, you’ll save your own sanity by not having to worry about finding the right top or pants to match.

Holiday Gifting Rule 4–Gift One Thing to Read

Ah, we’ve come to my favorite holiday gift-giving rule. I remember receiving James and the Giant Peach one Christmas and I was instantly drawn into the adventure of a boy who got to explore the world in a piece of my favorite fruit!

I’m a big proponent of shopping small, especially during the holidays. I always like to find little independent bookstores that are hidden gems. I love the musty old book smell and the often friendly, knowledgeable shop owners. Sometimes you can even find antique or special edition books at these mom-and-pop stores.

Holiday Gifting Rule 5–Gift One Thing to Experience

Here’s another fun holiday gift-giving rule. We tend to remember experiences and how those experiences made us feel more than we remember store-bought gifts. Try gifting tickets to a special event for the whole family. You can also get creative and design your own “tickets” or “vouchers” using Canva (free design tool), good for a special treat, dinner at Chuck E. Cheeses or a trip to a kid-friendly museum.

Holiday Gifting Rule 6–Gift One Thing to Eat

Super easy–and delicious, right? I personally love making people’s favorite ice cream flavors–seeing their faces brings me so much joy. Many of the kids I know really love those $10 triple flavor popcorn tins–a total holiday homerun. You can pick these up at Target or Walmart. Another fun idea is to pay a visit to the local candy shop at the mall and put together a custom candy bag. The kids will love you for it. Just don’t expect their parents to be too thrilled.

I hope these holiday gift-giving tips are helpful as you get ready to hit the stores and brave the crowds over the next few weeks.

What are your gift-giving dos and don’ts?

Post your holiday shopping tips in the comments on Instagram!