Ben and Erin Napier are teaching their daughters to 'shift the focus' when it comes to Christmas presents: '4 gifts each'

Ben and Erin Napier share their family holiday traditions. (Photo: HGTV)
Ben and Erin Napier share their family holiday traditions. (Photo: HGTV)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.

Ben and Erin Napier aren't planning on spoiling their two daughters with presents this holiday season.

The beloved HGTV stars, whose series Home Town returns on Dec. 4, say they have a strict system when it comes to what Santa Claus brings their two daughters, 5-year-old Helen and 18-month-old Mae.

"She gets something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read — so four gifts each," Erin tells Yahoo Life of what the girls can each expect this Christmas. "The most modest one will come from Santa. It's something we want to be conscious of because I read somewhere about kids going to school after Christmas comparing what Santa brought them. And the kids who didn't get such a huge, extravagant gift, they wonder 'does Santa not love me as much?' We're trying to shift the focus."

"Helen's old enough to understand all of that," Ben adds.

But that doesn't mean the family won't go all out for the holiday season. The Napiers have plans to adopt a family with Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child. They'll also continue their annual tradition of picking out a Christmas tree at a farm outside of their hometown of Laurel, Miss., and strapping it to the top of their Wagoneer.

"Why else would you have a Wagoneer?" jokes Erin, adding that the girls will make cookies with her mother, and drive around looking at lights while listening to classic Christmas music. While they don't have all their holiday plans locked down yet, the family intends to attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service at their church and do Christmas morning at home, with family members and friends popping by.

"Whenever everybody can be together, that's when Christmas will be," says Erin.

While the couple is known for their aesthetic decisions, they say they don't feel any pressure to make their home look catalog-ready for the holidays.

"I don't feel pressured by that at all. We just keep it pretty simple. I decorate the mantle and the fireplace. We put up the tree. We have a little Christmas village that is Stockbridge, Mass., and we put up Norman Rockwell's painting of Stockbridge with it. I put garlands on the handrails on the stairs. My mom always kind of focused on three areas: the fireplace, the banister rail and the Christmas tree, so I do the same thing," Erin says.

However, one holiday tradition the family won't be taking part in is the phenomenon of "Elf on the Shelf."

"No way," says Ben.

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The Napiers' holiday decor will be featured in the Dec. 4 Home Town premiere, which will highlight the farm they recently purchased outside of town. Luckily, the previous owners left tons of Christmas decorations, which Ben says he "hasn't even gotten into yet." But in the past, the couple never decorated for the holidays this early.

"It was never appropriate until the day after Thanksgiving," says Erin. "We have already decorated the whole house! I don't even know who I am. I think we just wanted a little extra cheer after the last couple of years."

Ben will also take on an additional role this holiday season: He'll dress up as Santa Claus. However, Erin says it doesn't take much negotiation.

"Make him? He does it every year," says Erin. "He wants to be the Macy's Parade Santa when he retires."

"That's my retirement plan," Ben adds, noting that he's "used and abused" the Santa suit HGTV once got him for holiday promos.

In addition to appearing on their own show, the Napiers star in A Christmas Open House, HGTV’s first holiday film, which is currently available on discovery+ and will premiere on HGTV on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 10 p.m. ET. But acting in front of the camera proved to be a bit outside the couple's comfort zone.

The Napiers appear in HGTV's first holiday film, A Christmas Open House, airing on Discovery+. (Photo: HGTV)
The Napiers appear in HGTV's first holiday film, A Christmas Open House, airing on Discovery+. (Photo: HGTV)

"It takes authentic connection for us to seem authentic in front of a camera," says Erin, who did her best to forge real friendships with the film's stars. But in their hometown of Laurel, the couple say not much has changed when it comes to how the locals respond to their celebrity. However, going out to dinner with the family has gotten a bit challenging.

"Restaurants have gotten complicated because there's a lot of visitors, which we're extremely grateful for," notes Ben.

"When Ben and I are alone, we love to meet people. It's wonderful," says Erin. "But when our girls are with us ... there's a weird place where you don't want your kids to think you're different or special. So we just kind of stay home. We're home a lot."

"But that's OK," adds Ben. "We like it."

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