15 answers

Christmas Budgets

I was just curious of how much you budget for your kids chistmas gifts. I'm torn betweeen spoiling them too much and the feeling that Christmas comes once a year, why not spoil them a little (within reason). I don't want to start the whole conversation that Christmas is not about the presents; I know that. We donate gifts to children who don't have and to the food pantries, my daughter is in Browniesd so she does Christmas caroling and all that, so I do instill giving also. But the fact is I love watching them open their presents and I love to give to them. But how much is too much? Just curious of your thoughts. Thanks, and hope you all have a very blessed Christmas!!

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Hi M.
I generally spend around $300. My son doesn't believe anymore so he gives me a list knowing that he isn't going to get it all.
Happy holidays
J.

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Depends on what they need... we try to keep the focus on something special and a few things to open that my son needs, like new jammies and crayons. We are also trying to remind our families of the same notion. My husband and I trying to help our son understand what Christmas is really all about (including the joy of giving). He's little, but attends church with us each week, helped light the advent candles and loves the Nativity set in the living room. It is so easy to give and watch their little faces light-up, but at the same time it sets a precedent that you may not be able to maintain for a long period of time.

We have spent about $150 on my son and have allocated $20-25 each for the other children in the family. I typically do a book and a gift card to either Target or Toys R Us that way they can "capitalize" on the post-Christmas sales. As adults, we draw names with a $75 limit to keep costs reasonable.

If there is something that your 8 year old really really wants and has been talking about for a long period of time, go for it! Otherwise, I wouldn't suggest buying "stuff" for the sake of buying. Depending on your budget situation, with three children you should really keep it under $500 and remember to SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! Just because you think it's the most awesome toy doesn't mean that they will love it and stores are really strict right now on return policies!

Hi M.,
My kids are 10 and 14 now. It seems like every year, I tell myself "less is more" and vow not to buy so many gifts, and then somehow, I "forget." Ooops. Here is the thing ... are they using everything that you buy them? If they have so much that they can't figurer out what to play with or you are now looking at boxes of games, craft sets, science sets, etc that were given last year and never played with, then yes, you are giving too much. I try now to focus on things that they would really like. I also tend to buy more because my kids' birthdays are both in late June, so the twice yearly giftings are pretty far apart, and I really don't buy my kids "no occasion" gifts. We don't have "I want ..." and I buy it, so Christmas is when they tend to get those things.
I think it's great for kids to enjoy both receiving and giving. I enjoy both myself!

Hi M.
I generally spend around $300. My son doesn't believe anymore so he gives me a list knowing that he isn't going to get it all.
Happy holidays
J.

When the sensational six were little ranging in ages from 10 to 2 and even now the budget for them is $75.00 each. I also have a Christmas eve tradition of giving everyone in the house new pajamas and slippers. This way the Christmas day pictures are even more beautiful. Hope this helps. I also start shopping in September right after school begins. Usually by the weekend after Thanksgiving I am finished with all my shopping. K.

THANK YOU M.! IT'S BEEN QUITE A FEW GENERATIONS AGO SINCE I HEARD A MOTHER SAY, 'I LOVE WATCHING THEM OPEN THEIR PRESENTS...' I'D LIKE TO THINK ABOUT THE WHAT IF'S? IF WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN THAT CHRISTMAS INCLUDES EXCHANGING GIFTS AND MONEY TO PURCHASE THEM, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE DAY COMES AND THERE'S NO MONEY OR GIFTS? DOES THIS MEAN THAT THEY ARE LOVED ANY LESS? YOU ASKED HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH TO SPEND? MY ANSWER IS TO SPEND QUALITY TIME ENJOYING LIFE'S SIMPLEST PLEASURES LIKE BEING TOGETHER, TALKING ABOUT REAL ISSUES, MAKING EACH OTHER LAUGH, SHOWING EACH OTHER HOW MUCH WE CARE. THEN, EXTENDING THIS SPIRIT WITH OTHERS LESS FORTUNATE WHO DON'T HAVE $$$, NO FAMILY/FRIENDS AND APPRECIATING WHAT WE DO HAVE. PERHAPS, INSTEAD OF STORING THE OLD CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FROM LAST YEAR AWAY--ANTICIPATING THE NEW ONES, WE COULD SPEND A DAY GIVING ALL OF OUR EXCESS AWAY TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW. WATCH THE FACE OF SOMEONE WITH NO GIFT ON CHRISTMAS RECEIVING THE OLD AND STORED AWAY ONES (-: THIS INCLUDES ALL OF MY CLUTTER AND EXCESS TOO o-; IN ESSENCE, 'KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES' AND OUT-DOING EACH OTHERS GIFTS WITH LABELS AND PRICE TAGS DON'T EQUIP OUR CHILDREN WITH THE REALITY THAT WHEN THE CHIPS ARE LOW AND THE PRICES SKY-HIGH, THAT NONE CAN REPLACE US OR MEASURE UP TO OUR SPIRIT PRICELESS INSIDE?

I think you personally need to do what is in your budget..I usually say $200 per child, I have 3..and that never happens. If it makes you happy to watch them open presents then go for it. I always get a tear when I hear them scream, "This is just what I wanted".

And I agree with you 100%. I donate toys and clothes all year long to local charities. As well as donate, to St. Jude, Sloan-Kettering, Disabled Veterans, give weekly Church envelopes, the Penny Drive at School, and constantly donate food and supplies to the Soldiers. I laughed when you said please let's not turn it into about giving and donating, and as usual there is always one that has to be preachy!

Christmas comes once a year and they are getting bigger and soon won't even want to wake up on Christmas morning or just want $$, so enjoy it and spend what you want! And not to sound nasty but all the ones that say giving are the ones that don't have it and are jealous. If you're a good person, then do what makes you and your family happy and forget everyone else! Merry Christmas!

We spend less than $100 on each child...for one, we can't afford more than that...and this year we won't be able to afford even that. Second, we don't believe that Christmas should be all about how many gifts you can get...it's about quality time with family.
I have never spoiled my kids at birthdays or Christmas, mainly because we could never afford to. They get some nice presents, but we don't go over board, and our kids don't expect it from us.
However, when we can afford something a little more expensive, they truly appreciate it and know how much we sacrificed to get it for them....
It's nice to know that when the funds aren't there, they aren't expecting to get a ton of stuff, but that they appreciate it so much more when we can get them more.

Hi There,
I feel the same way you do about giving to the kids... Christmas and Birthdays are the few times of year where I really give the kids toys that I really think they want. When it comes to gifts now, I go by what I think they will really enjoy and use, rather than the price (within reason of course). We usually get each child a "big gift" and several smaller gifts. Ie. last year we got my daughter a pretty nice play kitchen and my son a wagon (my son was 10 mos and my daughter was 3)... they still use those items ALL the time... so, go by what they will enjoy and you will enjoy giving... don't go by cost (just don't get them more than you can afford, or more than they will appreciate). Merry Christmas!!

M. I have two girls a 5yr old and 3yr old. What I have come up with is that each child gets 10 gifts. One big ticket item no more that $100.00 and nine small items. We log into Toys r us I let each one create a wish list spend about half an hour with each child creating their wish list which is oodles of fun. Once completed I print the wish list, price the toys at either walmart, kmart, e-toys, target get the best price and pull my nine other items from their list. I stick to the list and usually the total for each is about 250-300. Also sometimes they pick duplicate items and I add those the list buy one and they have to share it, really cuts down on cost. Hope this helps, I know it might sound like too much of a production but the wish list is so much fun sitting down with them in a controlled setting and they just love picking items. Good luck and happy holidays.

I personally try to focus more on the balance than the actual cost, but work with a budget in mind. Usually, I budget in one "big" present (usually more expensive, but maybe just really, really desired), a few practical things (clothes, hair clips, art supplies, etc), a few books and some smaller oft requested, but rarely indulged goodies (small toys, puzzles, candies, or something like that). I also like to have a couple of homemade presents and heirloom presents as well.

I'm with Darelen here.
I was not born or raised in the States so the American Christmas was all new to me until 5 years ago when I had my darlings. I have embraced it completely. I love their faces as they're going through wrappings.
Even though I don't have a budget set for my kids (I do for myself and my husband), I tend to buy little things like milk mugs and cups, and disney utensils, and blankets, and fleece robes etc. Those take up place and I buy them during the year so I don't feel the bill in December.
As for BIG gifts, I ask my girls to write letters to Santa. This year on top of their list has been this barbie jeep. Our neighbors' kids have them. To me they just scream accident to happen. Plus my kids don't share well so I would need to buy two of those, over 600 dollars. That is one thing I believe I won't be getting. I just can't bring myself to purchase something I believe could cause major bodily harm :)
Also my kids don't get gifts from their aunts and grandparents. So it is all up to me to get everything. And I do. It's ok to get spoiled twice a year (xmas and birthdays).
As for my husband, I get what he needs and then he can choose one thing he really wants but doesn't need. This year it was the smartpen (what a crazy idea).
For me, I need pots and pans hahaha yeah well i need them. So he will be getting me those
bottom line, if you can afford it, go for it. If you have family members getting gifts, send some ideas reasonably priced, that way you don't have to buy everything
good luck

Hi M.,
I am with you as far as seeing them open their gifts and throwing the clothes to the side and wanting to open the toy boxes...lol...If you are not on a budget (which for the first time in years we are this year) than I say shop till you drop!!!!! I know I engoy buying my son pajamas and sox when he out grows them and love to give to him on Christmas and any other Holiday. So enjoy giving to them while we can. No one knows what next year will bring,
Happy Holidays

This is always a difficult question to answer. I think it depends on your personal financial situation. In my case, I don't spend much on birthday gifts or other other items during the year, so I spoil the girls at Christmas. I usually buy one big gift and several smaller ones. I also tend to purchase items that I would probably buy anyway, but upgrade, like buying the $35 pair of jeans she really wants vs. the $20 pair that I would usually buy. Another thing to keep in mind, is the 3 year olds have no idea of costs, so if you spend $30 or $300, it doesn't matter, just purchase items you know they'll love.

My teenager - about $200, but this would probably include an expensive practical item like really good winter boots or cash for much needed new clothes.
My 4-year-old and 2-year old - about $50 each, but they don't really get toys/books/clothes at any other time other than birthdays. However, they get a lot of great hand-me-downs, so they have an excess of toys. I have to be careful to only have some of their toys available to them at a time (aka "rotating" the toys), otherwise they get bored and spoiled out of enjoying any of it.
A friend of mine has their children give 3 old toys to charity each year, to make room for the new toys they will receive at Christmas. Not a bad idea, and one we might start following ourselves.

A budget should be very individual. Children learn to expect based on what their family situation is. My children are thankfully still very young this year. With a very limited income, I am planning on spending less than $50 between the two boys. They have all the food they need, they have clothing and a loving home. We would love to be able to spend more on them for gifts, but they do not need anything and we can focus on giving them a few small things that will be special. I don't know that there is a "too much" to spend. If you are like many of us (not able to do more than pay bills and scrape by for food), then just being together and having something token to unwrap should be enough. Sometimes for children, just the unwrapping and the quantity can be fun. Growing up, we used to get all sorts of "necessities" in our stockings--toothpaste, new toothbrushes, lotion, pencils, fruit, etc. Maybe there's a formula out there based on income like there is for tipping in a restaurant. :) Good luck and you will still have a great Christmas just because you are a family!

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