Do You Give Gifts by Amount or Cost?

Updated on November 09, 2010
M.D. asks from Washington, DC
20 answers

Just curious. Do you go for the bigger show on Christmas morning or for more quality gifts? I know growing up my mom made sure we all had the same amount of things to open until the baby stopped believe in Santa, and then it was a cost distribution thing. So if I got 5 things and she got 15, it was totally fine. Not that it would have been a problem otherwise. But I was just wondering what other people do. I'm still in the stage that I like for my 3 (ages 7, 5, and 3) to have the same amount of gifts to open.

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So What Happened?

It definiely seems like more people do the amount of gifts to be fairly equal than the cost at this age and with Santa involved. My kids are anything but ungrateful or spoiled, but I just don't want to cause friction. I imagine we will stay with the same amount of gifts until they are all out of the Santa years and then they can understand that they can pick, but then it's a set amount of $$ we will spend too. Thanks :).

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answers from Richmond on

I don't really focus on keeping the cost the same - I try to focus more on a close to equal amount of gifts. Each person gets 1 big gift - usually the main thing they wanted, then 1-2 sort of medium gifts and a few "filler" items + a stocking. For example, this year my 14 yo will get an iPod which is his BIG gift (bigger than normal!), an alarm clock/iPod docking station (medium gift), some PJs, some funny tshirts (he loves them), a Wii game ($12) and a DVD ($10). Then he will get a stocking. My main rule is NO USELESS JUNK. I don't buy stuff that will break in 10 minutes or stuff no one really wants just to have more under the tree. To me that is wasteful.

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answers from Lynchburg on

We do both. Last year they got a really big gift to share, and then the same number of "medium" gifts, and then the rest alloted goes to "small" gifts so the amount depends on the cost each has left. To better explain, last year the big gift was like $200. So then, they each got a couple "medium gifts" that were similar in size of package. The cost is usually somewhat close, but not necessarily. Then there was about $100 left, so we divided it in two and they each got $50 worth of smaller gifts.

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answers from Modesto on

I was never one to think about the cost. If you are getting someone something from the heart and something that you know or feel they would like- it didnt matter if it was 20 bucks and the other kid got something that was 10 bucks. I dont think cost should figure in, it's not about the money. If Suzy wants an American Girl doll for 100 bucks and Jack wants a transformer for 20 bucks, do you think they care how much money was spent? No.

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answers from Modesto on

When they were little yet able to count, yes, I made sure they had the same amount of gifts. When they got older and Santa didnt deliver anymore, they got more of what they actually requested and within the same price range for each kid (I only had two). I also got them a few "shared" gifts, like board games.... it would have both of their names on it and they would choose who would get to unwrap it... it would usually be the one that got less gifts ;)

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answers from Washington DC on

I kind of try to balance both -- when they are little, like your kids, they will notice who got more gifts rather than which ones were more expensive. I think that will start to switch when they get older (like teenagers). It's just me, but I don't get my kids tons of things on Christmas -- they get enough from uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. I usually get them each one thing from us and one thing from Santa Claus plus maybe some small socking stuffers and candy. What I do pay attention to is what they really want though. So, what I'm saying is that if my daughter gets the Barbie doll she really wants and it was only $15 and my son gets the $40 helicopter, they are both happy even though there is a big price difference. They each got one big gift of something they were really looking forward to. Maybe I'll try to make up the price a bit by getting them each a book, but my daughter's is a $30 popup and my son's is a $5 paperback. But, I still keep the amount of gifts to open the same.

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answers from Dallas on

my kids are 7, 4, and 1(they'll be 8, 5, and 2 right after the holidays) - God help them if ANY of them whined/complained on Christmas morning that one got more presents than the other. i am not even almost gonna set up an expectation that if one gets 14 gifts, then i better find 14 gifts for the other two as well. that's ridiculous and i think it sets them up to be greedy/selfish, always making sure they "get" as much as the others. i spend approximately the same amount of money on each child, and they usually end up with about the same number of gifts, but i can assure you i don't count gifts under the tree. last year, i remember my 3yo and 6yo looking under the tree and counting how many for each person - i think the kids were all 2 to 3 gifts apart from each other(this was with grandparents, friends, etc. gifts under the tree...), and my oldest said "wow, we sure are lucky that we all have so many nice presents to open on Christmas morning, and ******(my 3yo's name), you got the most tihs year, that's awesome!". i have really worked hard to treat my children FAIRLY, but not necessarily equally. if one needs new shoes, i don't necessarily buy shoes for the other two. they all know that they are loved, and that they will all always have what they need, and that they are fortunate to have most of what they want.

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answers from Topeka on

I think if a child was to get 5 gifts and the other got 6, they would be very upset and think the parents favored that one over the other. At least that is how my children would feel. I do it by number but I make sure I spend the same amount in the long run. We are on a budget so I have a certain amount set for each child. But I also make sure it is the same amount of gifts.

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answers from Atlanta on

Our kids are still really small, so this isn't such an issue yet, but we usually purchase based on price/budget. Because of their ages, this means right now that they both have a pretty big surprise on Christmas morning, but as they grow it will still be based on cost. If child A wants 3 things that are very expensive and child B wants 10 things that are really inexpensive and it all adds up to be the same cost for both -then that's the way we'll do it. We don't wrap Santa stuff for Christmas morning -it's just arranged in stockings and under the tree, so right now as far as gifts to open from us and grandparents -the same amount is key. It's not so much what's in them when they're really young as to whether their brother has 4 gifts to open and they only have 1! That's a recipe for disaster!


answers from Chicago on

We do cost and our kids are LITTLE (3 years and turning 2 this week). Honestly the older kid tears through her gifts so quick and the little one is so enthralled by his trains that they do not notice the number of gifts. Eventually they probably will. My parents used to do approximately the same number of gifts but the cost was also even...quite a balancing act but we were both girls (3.5 years apart) so maybe that was easier than balancing the boy/girl thing.


answers from Oklahoma City on

my mom raised me and my brother on a "budget" the bigger the item, the less we got, and we still get that, she ask now that you're adults do you want $$ or presents?? and we get to choose

i say it depends on age and maturity...children, get small inexpensive things that don't cost much...they just want the present and don't start worrying about the price tag until tween years, sometimes the boxes are the best part for the little one's



answers from Washington DC on

My husband's family did it by # of gifts, and to this day, they still do it that way and it is very annoying because he will expect the same # of gifts that he gets me, not knowing that there may be a cost difference. My mom did the same # until we got to be about 10 and then explained that we were getting the same cost spent on us, which I think is the most fair way to go. Personally, I don't try to make things equal in either cost of number of gifts. It would be best not to get them to expect it either way or you will be driving yourself nuts in the future.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Then go for the same number of gifts. Kids do count their presents (no matter how much you teach them unselfishness!). I try to keep things relatively even among my three grandchildren who are siblings, but they don't always receive the same things. As they get older, quantity won't be such a big factor. That is, once you're a teenager, EIGHT little presents of clothes or books for Christmas don't even come close to equaling ONE new car!


answers from Chicago on

We spend the same amount on each. When they were younger, we'd try to get similar amounts, but still within the budget for each.



answers from Boston on

We try to do one large gift then some smaller gifts but we go off of cost they don't seem to notice.



answers from Washington DC on

My kids get a stocking, then a small gift from each other (my almost 7 yo is the only one who actualy picks for his siblings - they are 1 and 2), usually a box containing an outfit and underwear from Mom, Dad picks a gift for each, and one gift from Santa (toy). So, we have equal number of gifts. We try to focus (especially with the older one) on how much fun it is to choose and give gifts to the rest of the family. Of course they get so much from other family members.



answers from Augusta on

we do same number of gifts. we usually do one big gift then an accessory or two to go with it. Then clothes. We try not to get them many toys because they have 4 sets of grandparents and 3 great grandparents.



answers from Boston on

I will do the same amount of gifts but they are all quality gifts or something they will need. If I need an extra gift for one of my kids I will get them something small to go along with something they already have. I bought a matchbox car set for my middle son and if I need an extra gift for him it will be a pack of cars. I personally love seeing the tree full of presents on Christmas morning and I really enjoy watching my boys open their presents. They really appreciate everything they get.



answers from Topeka on

ME & hubby get at least 2-3 gifts priced around $45-35 for each of the 3 kids then after that it is what they want we have to narrow it down ourselves I always go overboard but hey thats what a M. is for..These gifts are typically baby dolls of Disney or other dolls,Barbies (this year),new Barbie movies(stockings)Dragon movie(stocking)other stocking stuffers,MLP's,Hot Wheels race tracks,but i'm stummped on what to get my son he is 7 other than different Hot Wheel items,books,of course some clothing items,I keep junk to a minimum..I have a list of what they don't need.


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I try to do both but at this point it is the same amount of presents. As they get older it is easier for them to understand that you get one present that cost 100 dollars ans someone else gets 5 20 dollar gifts.



answers from Washington DC on

The girls get roughly the same stocking stuffers. THen they get about 5 gifts to open. One white box with clothes, a book, a puzzle, game or craft kit, their one thing they asked Santa for, and maybe one more.
My son gets more boy things in his stocking, no hair bows or earrings. :o)
He gets the same number of gifts.
Last year my two oldest 14 and 16 got iPod Nanos so their pile was not as big as the little ones, but they understood. THere was no complaining.

They are allowed to ask Santa for one thing. My 9 year old has for 5 years asked for bells. Like that train movie. Every year it;s a different color, this year he wants white.
We tell the kids Santa has our budget to work with which is also why some kids don't have abundant Christmases, because some families budgets aren't as big and why some kids get more because some families have much bigger budgets.

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