34 answers

How Many Christmas Gifts Do You Give?

It happened again today...
My mother rolled her eyes and gasped (she does this every year) when I answered her question about what I bought my children for Christmas.
I belive in giving each child the same number of gifts (and I usually average about the same cost believe it or not) and for some reason that has always averaged about 10 (1 or 2 are put under the tree from "us" and the remaining are brought on Christmas morning by "Santa" with the extra goodies in the stockings)

Is this out of bounds?
How many gifts do your children receive from you and "Santa"?
Do you make sure everyone has the same amount?
Do you still "play Santa" with the older ones when there are still little "believers" in the house?

I don't buy toys or gifts much throughout the year so I try to meet their desires at Christmas and their birthdays but she has me second guessing myself...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for the validation!
I know I should trust my instincts (and not let my mom get me down) but sometimes I second guess myself (I think we all do).
Anyway, you all had great suggestions and opinions!
Incidently in case anyone was wondering what I actually spent...$236 per child for 10 gifts each! I start early and MEGA bargain hunt and everything gets wrapped (even the chapstick in the stocking).
The main reason for the same number of gifts is that we sit in a circle Christmas morning and take turns watching each other open gifts. It takes a couple of hours but I like it better than the "tear into everything orgy"...
Hope you all have the BEST Christmas this year!

Featured Answers

Yup, what you do is EXACTLY what I do. I only have two kids but they each get 10 presents and some little goodies in thier stockings (which I am also psycho about keeping even...he he). I think 10 is a totally fine number, after all it's Christmas, when else do they get such extravagance? I have heard many people range on this but if you feel comfortable doing 10, then do it. I think keeping it even is also a really good idea, we all know how kids compare everything. I STILL remember doing that with my sister when I was young on Christmas!
I also wanted to add that I got my kids 3 or 4 big nice presents and then I went to Target dollar bin and bought little book etc and wrapped them to count towards the 10 presents so I didn't have to spend a fortune.
Ree

My mom's started a new tradition a couple years ago (with my siblings still living at home). The kids get three gifts: spiritual, fun, and practical. It think it's a great idea. She spends close to the same on every child, but they only open three presents or boxes so if the fun gift is a few things she'll put them into one box. I think she's started this for several reasons: 1. to cut down on how much she has to wrap (I have nine siblings) 2. To "round out" the child's Christmas, so they can get things like a pair of pants, but also a new MP3 player. Anyway, from what I hear from my siblings, they like the idea and I don't think it's a bad idea to implement. Hope this helps.

everyone has different traditions when it comes to holidays, and everyone has different ideas about gifts. personally, we get one "big" gift for each child, something they really want that is more expensive, then each child gets a book, and then they get a few little things as stocking stuffers. we also try to incorporate some sort of service activity, to remind them that christmas is about giving, not getting. I say, do what you feel comfortable doing.

More Answers

Hi H., like most of the other moms already stated, it's ultimately up to you what works for you and your family in regard to giving gifts and you'll just have to learn to ignore your mother's reaction since you know it bothers her. She probably feels torn buying your kids even more gifts since you get them so much, but she's grandma and wants/needs to get them something too. Personally, I do the same thing as Katy G. and decided after my first was born to only do 3 gifts to correlate with the 3 wise men bringing gifts. One of those is a "big" (or bigger) gift from Santa. I'm so glad we decided to do this - it's obviously easier financially, especially on years that are tougher, like this one. Plus, it drives me nuts to see how many presents some kids get and they're main goal is just to unwrap them, getting excited for a minute and then they're on to the next one. I also wanted to teach my kids about giving back and I cannot rationalize spoiling the crud out of my kids while you know there are families out there who can't afford gifts for their kids or even feed their children. Another thing to consider is debt - you shouldn't be going in to debt to finance your kids' Christmas haul. I love, love, love the holidays but not the focus on presents. There are so many other ways to make this time of year special for your kids and truly meaningful - go see Christmas light displays together, go see free Christmas concerts, do the 12 days of Christmas for a family in need, volunteer at shelters, take some of the money you would have spent on more presents and buy food for the food banks, and buy extra for yourself to prepare for harder times. All of you will feel the true Christmas spirit so much more than just the short-lived Christmas morning high. Just my humble opinion. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

1 mom found this helpful

every one is different and when we start out own families we can start any tradition we want no matter what our mothers say. i bet you rll your eyes too when she does. my parents didnt have much so they wanted us to have a lot. a lot meant a bunch of cheap toys that didnt last till the new year most of the time. when we wanted something large we had to hear the " we cant afford it " song and dance. so i started workign at a age 13 to buy my own stuff. i alwasy asked my boys still do,to make a list of 3 things that they really want. i would rather spend 100 dollars on somethng big than a bunch of little things. i buy one of the 3 and do smaller thng s they need in their stocking. like travel size shampoo and lotions, candy, cologne, etc. thenwe take whatever is left of our budget and buy toys and socks and underwear for an orphanage. on dec 6 this year we are going to get thogether and wrap presents at a firends house and on the 7th we are going to take the fgifts to the orphanage and have a party fot the kids. that is much more rewarding and since all of my sons are out of the house, they still send money or gifts for the orphanage kids and demand that i take videos and pictures for them. this year we are paying for a months rent for our youngest who is in college and one car payment for my oldenst who just got married and has a new baby. the baby is getting a couple fo cases of diapers. my adopted sons never ask for anything large. the one in the Marines wants a care package like the ones i used to send to Iraq when he was there. jsut a bunch of snacks. the one in the coast guard wants me to send frozen meals and cookies since he now lives off base. the policeman is getting a gift card to cabelas since he likes to buy his own stuff and the tow that are mechanics that live in town are getting a tool gift certificate from the snap on man so they can add to their collection. i dont spend equal amounts because they have a chance to ask for what they want and i chose out of the tree. so id one of them wants osmething expensive and the others dont i buy what they ask for , kind of

1 mom found this helpful

I have 5 children ages 11,9,7,5,2. I told them we will be doing something different next year and I will be letting Santa know as well. So this year my kids will be getting: EX.
1. Something they want... IPOD SHUFFLE
2. Something they need ... Hair brush, hair ties etc.
3. Something to wear... Sunday church outfit
4. Something to read... Uplifting book

This also helps out with how bad the economy is right now. Christmas will be a lot less expensive this year. Just an idea.

Because our kids get gifts from family members and school gift exchanges, etc., I didn't want Christmas to be about getting gifts or not getting what they wanted. We give our kids one from Santa (still), one from us (Mom and Dad), and one from their sibling (I just have two kids). Then I put candy and little things in the stocking. It was really hard some years as I had a hard time narrowing down the list, but it helped my kids to make short lists. We also make sure to spend some time buying and delivering gifts for organizations like Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child (very eye-opening). During lean years, like this year, my kids don't ask for much. The year we got our computer, that was it for gifts, so we each wrote out coupons for each other. They were the most fun to open and one of my kids' favorite Christmases.

As for the number of gifts. I believe there is not right number. If you want to give them 10 gifts and can afford it that is fine. (I give what I can to my 4 kids. One year they got 15 each.)

Although, I have always done what my mom had done for me when I was little as even then she lived paycheck to paycheck.... I told my kids that they needed to let santa know what they wanted. They needed to make sure that mom and dad could afford the item as we have to pay santa to bring them presents. (saying santa needed parents to pay for the items as he is having difficulty getting money to feed the elves and reindeer)

We give one special gift from us.(parents) The rest come from Santa. Same amount of gifts yes... paid the same amount... that is hard because the older they get the more expensive.
The older kids are told not to spoil santa for the younger ones as we did not spoil it for them when they believed.

This year though.... my kids know that times are tough and they may not get anything from mom and dad... hoping my bonus goes through so they can at least get something from santa.

Santa brings one present for each of our two children. We give one present (Mom and Dad) and the kids give each other one present. We give each member in our extended family one present (9 of us). It is not O.K. for your Mom to roll her eyes and you should respectfully tell her how it makes her feel. She is from a different generation and everyone has an idea of what is right. There is no right and wrong just differences and she should respect your decision.

everyone has different traditions when it comes to holidays, and everyone has different ideas about gifts. personally, we get one "big" gift for each child, something they really want that is more expensive, then each child gets a book, and then they get a few little things as stocking stuffers. we also try to incorporate some sort of service activity, to remind them that christmas is about giving, not getting. I say, do what you feel comfortable doing.

As far as playing Santa for the older non-believers I always had a rule that if you didn't "believe" you didn't get anything from Santa. This always made my son play along because he wanted the gifts. I would also let him help me fill his sisters stockings and put the Santa gifts out. He liked getting to sneak out of bed after his sisters were asleep.
I always over-buy for my kids too and get the same reaction from my mother. I do feel a little guilty but it's mostly because there are people out there who cannot afford Christmas for their kids. We do buy for one or two kids off the giving tree at school.

We have 4 kids too and we give 3 presents for each because that is how many gifts Jesus recieved from the 3 wise men. Then they each get one gift from Santa and some small stocking stuffer presents. I was completely spoiled as a child and my Christmas morning was ridiculous...so many presents I would lie to my friends when comparing gifts because I was embarressed. It really set me up for big time dissapointment as I got older though because I expect every Christmas to be like it was. My husband was not raised that way and he firmly believes in small Christmas' so we compromised and it seems to work for us. As far as your mom's rude comments...sometimes we can never satisfy them, no matter what we do! Just ignore it and know that no matter how many gifts you told her you bought, she would have an issue with it! Merry Christmas :)

Christmas tradition is different for every family, there is no right or wrong way to do it...if you can afford what you buy and are happy then it shouldn't be an issue. I have 2 young children, I try to buy them around the same and spend around the same...of course some years some get more than others. Both my children are young, so the believing in Santa is not an issue yet :) Chrstmas is stressful, try to enjoy your family and what you have...happy holidays :)

My kids are getting 5 presents total per child this year. One from Santa and the rest from us. There was a budgeted amount for each kid, so when we had spent "their" money, shopping time for them was over regardless of what we came away with. We've also explained to our kids that Santa has to get the money for toys from the parents, thereby explaining why Santa brings lots of toys for some kids and not others. That helps to reign in the unrealistic expectation for Christmas morning.

We do bring Santa gifts for the adolescent siblings so that we do not tip off the little ones.

Yup, what you do is EXACTLY what I do. I only have two kids but they each get 10 presents and some little goodies in thier stockings (which I am also psycho about keeping even...he he). I think 10 is a totally fine number, after all it's Christmas, when else do they get such extravagance? I have heard many people range on this but if you feel comfortable doing 10, then do it. I think keeping it even is also a really good idea, we all know how kids compare everything. I STILL remember doing that with my sister when I was young on Christmas!
I also wanted to add that I got my kids 3 or 4 big nice presents and then I went to Target dollar bin and bought little book etc and wrapped them to count towards the 10 presents so I didn't have to spend a fortune.
Ree

Hi H.!
I do Christmas the same way (it's my husband that thinks I go over board until I show him that I didn't actually spend that much money -surprisingly- and why I did it the way I did) I think the important part is that the same amount of money is spent on each child and that they have the same amount of presents to open (we all know that kids notice everything and two presents short under the tree may have them believe you like the other a little bit better even though that is not the case!) All in all, don't listen to your mother, your traditions are fair and loving and that is what matters.
On the Santa issue... As long as there are kids in the house Santa comes for everyone! Even when I was a kid Santa always came, it doesn't matter whether you know he exists or not it is part of Christmas and a way of having a morning where you feel like a kid no matter your age. I always use the Santa presents in the budget with the gifts and I usually decide when I am wrapping gifts which are from family and which are from Santa.
I hope you can let your mothers comments roll off your back, smile, ignore her, change the subject, and have a wonderful holiday season!!
Merry Christmas:)
E.

I say ignore your mom. In my home Christmas is huge. I try to spend the same amount on my kids now that I have 2 but since my son is only 1.5 i bought him big expensive presents that he can use for years like a train table & set a folding couch/bed of his own & a tricycle while his sister got more little presents. But both kids will have $300 spent on them then I'm done. We however give them one gift normally their biggest so this year it will be my daughter ds & sons train table comes from Santa the rest from us this way the kids understand they wont get everything the ask for. As far as Santa goes till i moved out of the house and even the 1st year my daughter was born all my parents presents said from Santa (we asked then to stop since it was our turn to play Santa so they did). So keep Santa around as long as u like. My belief is we keep the spirit of Santa alive with the gifts we give to others which makes my daughter very happy to think she helps him when she buys for the angels off the tree.

That sounds perfectly fine. If you can afford it and are fair who cares what the actual number is? Don't doubt yourself. You know better than anyone else what works for your family. As for "Santa", I plan on doing that forever. I still get presents from my own parents marked "from Santa." It has become just a sweet fun tradition.

Here's my two cents on presents:

In my home we do not give each other gifts on Christmas. Instead, we print out a list from the local Salvation Army, or Primavera Foundation - that contains items needed for those less fortunate than our family. We do not have a lot of money at all. We also do not give in to the retail stores "Santa" gimmick either. They had their fun thinking he was real when they were small children, then when my kids turned 6, they were told the truth about him. They understand that this is Christ's holiday, and so giving gifts and volunteering in his name to others is more appropriate than to ourselves, when their rooms are already overflowing with toys. If our extended family insists on giving our kids gifts - then it is always books, family activities, art supplies, clothing, or gift certificates so that they can choose things for themselves.

What you do as a tradition for Christmas is up to you... but try not to get so caught-up in presents, since they could lead to the children becoming ungrateful. Or, try to balance it all out by taking them to see the sad living conditions of poor children and families right in your own community.

That's a generational thing--my mom does that too. ("20 dollars??! for a toy??!") We end up buying our kids a lot of gifts because since we moved out of state, we decided to buy things 'on behalf' of family and friends. Then the kids remember distant people, get things we know they'll like, and save our family the trouble and shipping. So, one bigger thing from mom/dad, one from gramma, one from great-grampa, one from aunt/uncle family, etc, and one from Santa...turns out to be 8-10 things. And yes, I keep it equal.

It doesn't matter what she thinks. You are obviously trying really hard. The equal number thing is important. Kids count. We always did. I'm the oldest of 7. As for the believing in Santa thing, my parents always reminded the older ones "if you don't believe, you don't receive. Now do you want Christmas presents or not?" It stops them from ruining it for younger siblings. Enjoy your kids and the holiday, forget anyone who is negative.

I also don't buy lots of toys through out the year, they are set aside for birthdays and Christmas. Christmas is HUGE at my house. We decorate and save up gifts all year for a specific orphanage and we have Birthday cake for Baby Jesus.

My house is loaded with toys and presents and wrapping paper and we go all out!!! Anyone that visits gets at least one gift as well as a stocking by the fireplace. Even my fur babies have stockings full of treats and new beds for Christmas. It's my thing, and I'm entitled to do it however I see fit.

Quite frankly as long as I am not asking for money from my parents, it's none of their business what I do and don't buy. Tell them to be grateful that you are able to splurge on your kids from time to time, especially when the economy is struggling. Hopefully that will shut them up.

H.,
Don't let anyone shake your confidence about being a Mom. Give your children what comes from the heart. If you can afford it and it feels good to you then please don't let anyone pressure you into doing what "they" think is right. Please stand up for yourself. Believe in yourself and that what you are doing for your children is the best.
I'll tell you that this is a magical time of the year for our children and the memories you are making for them will last forever. They will grow up very soon and Christmas will never have that same magic as it does when you are a child. Enjoy their happiness &
Happy Holidays!!!!
PS "Too many gifts" will never change the values you have already and continue to instill in your children.

3 - we give 3 presents to symbolize the same number of gifts Jesus received from the wise men. It is one from santa, one from us and one in the stocking. It usually turns out to be one very large gift, one year a Peg Perego train, or Thomas the Tank train table, last year the Schleich castle set. They are expensive, nice and last a long time. Simple to shop and kids play forever....this year it's Star wars lego...next year I'm going to buy annual passes to Disneyland.

When my 20 yr. old was younger we went through that phase of way too many gifts and she thought everything was from Santa. I was bummed because I had put a lot of things from me and she did not notice. So we scaled way back. The kids know to ask Santa for one item only and for one item from us.

This is one I think about a lot in retrospect. I did much as you do... keeping it all "equal" in terms of number and dollar amount. Clothing and usually one "bigger gift" came from us, then another "bigger gift" or two and stocking stuffers from Santa. Usually it was just my two kids and sometimes my step-daughter, sometimes foster kids along with. I loved keeping the magic and mystery of Santa alive. My kids weren't nerds or overly naive in other ways, but they both truly believed until they were 12 years old (because I really got into it, and it also fit our spiritual beliefs).

That said, I would do it completely differently if I had it to do over. I heard an interview with a celebrity who could afford for his kids to have anything, say he only allowed two toys each at Christmas. I feel I bought into the whole consumerist mentality. Sometimes too many "things" are overwhelming for kids, and I wish I'd kept it way more simple. My daughter, who's now 25, says when she has kids she's not going to do all this commercial Christmas. In spite of that, I still fill stockings for my two kids, ages 21 and 25... but now they do the same for me. lol!

I am with you I give equal amounts of gifts to each child. Yes I might of paid more for 1 gift then the other but htey are equal. We give 1 gift from Santa & the rest from Mom & Dad .. Thi is your family you need to not worry what other family memebers say & make your traditions yuour traditions..

Your gift giving is certainly NOT out of line - especially since it is your home with your children. YOU ultimately get to make these decisions, not your mother (she had her turn already).
My husband and I combined both our childhood experiences into a nice balance for our 3 kids, and everything always seemed very balanced. We would give the kids 1 "big" or expensive gift from Santa that wasn't wrapped so the kids would have something to play with when they were up at 3am (ugh!) and then we would wrap another from Santa they would open after we were all up. The rest of the gifts were from us. And we were always very generous. Every year we said we would cut back, but somehow it never showed under the tree. Looks like this year we will seriously be cutting back though...
We also noticed as the kids got older and their tastes got more expensive they would have fewer items to unwrap, but they always seemed to know these items were much more expensive and never cared if they had a few less items to open.
And our kids also knew better than to spoil Santa for the little ones, probably because when they would come home and question me about their school friends telling them Santa didn't exist, I always told them Santa would only come to homes where the kids believed in him. =)

I have never really counted how many we give. We try to make sure they have the same number and we make sure and get them gifts that are on their lists to Santa.

I thought I should respond since eveyone else was giving you a response in a different direction. Growing up, my mom did the same thing. She would even buy and wrap a nail polish for me if it would mean that we all had 10 presents/ $100 each. And there were three of us. They didn't buy us a whole lot throughout the year and by no means were we rich! Both my parents worked hard to give us the things they didn't have. And I would like to think that I am NOT spoiled now because I didn't get everything I wanted. And I'm 30 now and she still does that for me and my husband.

I think you should just go with what you believe is right! Make a great family tradition with it!

As a side note, our tradition was to each open a present one at a time. There was no diving into it. Really christmas took a good hour or two!

Hi, H. -
You asked if your gift-giving was "out of bounds". No. Your mother is out of bounds.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but Christmas should be a time of giving, and of happiness.
Don't second guess yourself, and spare yourself the guilt or stress. Who needs it?
Whatever you family can afford, and whatever makes you happy. Whether you buy each child 4 gifts or 40, and whether you spend $4 or $4000 is your decision. Either ignore your mother's attitude, well-intentioned or not, or lovingly tell her that you are going to do what makes you and your children happy on Christmas. Hoping this doesn't come across mean, because that's now how I intend it. Just trying to give you back your Christmas spirit!
Enjoy the holidays.

I have two daughters (3 and 11mo) and a step son (8). Christmas can get a little out of hand so we set up a budget. Each child gets the same budget and we go from there. My step son may get less, because he gets more expensive things, but he gets what he asks for so he is happy. I say do whatever makes you feel like you are doing the right thing. It's not about the presents, but as a mom you want to find a way to be fair, do what works for your kiddos. My stepson never minds that he gets less because he gets what he asks for (at least so far!)

As far as santa, we don't mention santa. There are big presents set out for tradition sake, it's always fun to run down the stairs and find something right away! As Christians we have decided to bake a cake on Christmas Eve for Jesus and really stress that Jesus is sharing His birthday with us.

Honestly I don't do near that much. That's about what my kids get total for Christmas from everyone. I think that if you can afford it then you make your own choices, but you might think about what expectations you are instilling in your children. There may come a time when it is not possible to do so much and they might not be receptive to smaller amounts. One of the things I do with my kids is make sure that they are giving back. It might buffer your mothers concern as well. My sister in laws kids from her first marriage always got huge amounts of presents at the holidays and they did have some gratefullness issues. My guess is that your mother is feeling that if you are giving so much to your kids then her gifts will likely get lost in the volume. It is not an unexpected feeling. I remember feeling the same way at the thought of giving my nephews things because they didn't really notice the individual gifts for others. Regardless you need to do what you and your husband are comfortable with. If you guys are on the same page about it then I wouldn't worry, I would just make sure that in the process your kids are not getting ungrateful.

I have two grown daughters, 18 and 19, and I started "Santa's Wish List" when they were about three years old....I gave them a chance to write down their five top choices and I did my best to get them at least those top five choices. I would make sure they received the same amount in gifts and well as the cost. I am a single parent and although it was hard at times, just seeing their happy faces when they opened their gifts from "Santa" made me very happy too. I, like you, didn't buy them alot of toys and stuff throughout the year, so at Christmas and their birthdays, I would try and give them what they asked for. My daughters were very good children, appreciative of what they received and today are bright wonderful college students. Stick to your guns, bring up your children as you and your husband see fit....and gently let your mom know she's already raised you, now it's your turn to raise your children...you sound like a great mom....best of luck!!

That seems a little excessive to me but ultimately it is your call. I wouldn't let your mom make you feel bad because you like to get things for your children for christmas.

We usually just get a couple of things for our kids from us and I fill a stocking from santa because my parents and my in-laws get the kids lots of stuff and it just ends up being too much.

Hi H., We give the same number to each kid (we have 3) and spend as close as possible to the same amount for each kid. All the presents from us are opened xmas eve. We buy what they really want and put it under the tree or in their stocking and they open that in the morning from "santa". Now, all of this depends on our income at the time. This year, it's going to be slim pickings. We are both commission only and my commission for last month was actually -83! So we will still juggle the finances so they have a nice holiday and everyone else, including each other, will get IOU's! We all do the best we can and I think if you focus too much on the 'getting' and not the 'giving', you miss the meaning of the holiday season anyway. Ultimately, it's your family and your life, don't worry about your mom's comments on what you do for your own family! Happy Holidays!

My mom's started a new tradition a couple years ago (with my siblings still living at home). The kids get three gifts: spiritual, fun, and practical. It think it's a great idea. She spends close to the same on every child, but they only open three presents or boxes so if the fun gift is a few things she'll put them into one box. I think she's started this for several reasons: 1. to cut down on how much she has to wrap (I have nine siblings) 2. To "round out" the child's Christmas, so they can get things like a pair of pants, but also a new MP3 player. Anyway, from what I hear from my siblings, they like the idea and I don't think it's a bad idea to implement. Hope this helps.

That sounds similar to what my parents did when I was kid. A few things from them under the tree and 5 or 6 Santa gifts. If you aren't busting your budget - it's a once a year holiday and kids won't be ruined if they are "spoiled" for one day a year. Things are different with my son since we are Jewish and don't celebrate Christmas at home. Even though I try to restrain myself, he ends up with quite a haul over the 8 nights of Hanukkah. We're thinking as he gets older and begins to care about things like Santa, we'll also do a couple of Santa gifts that will be delivered to his godparent's home.

Ultimately, it's your family and your holiday so you get to set the traditions.

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