Ok, How Many Presents Do You Get for Your Children for Christmas?

Updated on December 13, 2017
S.C. asks from Old Town, ME
18 answers

This year I have had a hard time getting into the toy buying spirit. I normally go over board and get my kids 15 presents each and this year I only have about 6 presents each. My kids have soooo many toys and our budget is tight. How many gifts do you buy your kids? I feel incredibly guilty for not getting them much this year.

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So What Happened?

My son is 6 and my daughter will be 4 after Christmas. I have been a single mom ever since my daughter was one and I think I over board on things to try to make up for the other half. I am not in the Christmas spirit because my oldest is getting selfish and narrow minded. He has big expectations (probably do to our past christmases) and he has thrown fits in stores because he can't get things now. I feel like I ruined him. I almost canceled our Christmas because of the disrespect but I again feel guilty.

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answers from Seattle on

I don't count how many gifts I get them. This is the first year that I have been able to get presents and not FREAK OUT that we don't have enough money. They are getting some good stuff this year!!!
I used to try and spend the same amount of money...but that's not possible. My eldest (15) has gifts that cost a LOT more than my youngest (6).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We always did a lot of gifts to open under the tree, but they weren't all toys. They would get socks, underwear, pj, s, shoes, clothes, memberships, gift cards, bedding, camping equipment, books, musical instruments...Only one or two gifts were wants, the rest needs. We only bought what we could afford.

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answers from Springfield on

You mentioned that you feel like you "ruined" your son. Relax. He's only 6 year's old. Plenty of time to teach him. I think it's normal for kids to be selfish. They don't have the life experience to understand other people's needs and delayed gratification. It's important to keep teaching them and keep reminding and keep having expectations. But it's equally important to remember that this behavior is really not all that unusual.

I don't always think about the number of presents. I do try to make sure that neither of my kids feels like the other one got more. Some presents are more expensive than others or at least "bigger" in size or value than others.

I would just make sure they each get something that will really feel like a treat to them. Don't focus so much on what you can't do. Just try to be thankful for what you can do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Somebody recently asked a question about how to get kids to understand the spirit of the season. You might search for it and read both her question and the responses to get yourself sort of "centered" about what you're trying to accomplish. Ask yourself what the message of 15 presents is, and what it is that makes you feel guilty. What is the purpose of gifts? What does the quantity say about you that you feel 6 gifts won't convey? Did you have an experience as a child that you are determined to repeat or not repeat? Personally, I think 15 gifts sounds like it could turn into a big grab-fest with no one appreciating the gifts because they are busy focusing on the rest of the pile. I'm Jewish but I have a lot of family who celebrate Christmas. I carefully made sure all the kids had exactly the same number of gifts and I doled them out all together at a pre-Christmas gathering (everyone got gift 1, then everyone got gift 2, etc.). One of the kids kept setting aside her opened gift and running up to me for her next present. Never noticed a damn thing because she was too busy moving on to the next thing. It was awful for everyone to watch her not enjoying anything and then getting the other kids focused on quantity and not the spirit of the day.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have a rough budget. I don't do a certain number of presents, I do a certain amount of money.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Santa brings 1 fun toy each, some books, and small stuff for in the stocking (socks, candy, etc.)
Gifts from my husband and me are usually stuff they need, 2 or 3 things per kid. This year they are getting Taekwondo sparring gear, new baseball bats, and clothes (the TKD gear and baseball bats are things they will be required to get for their activities in the next few months anyway, so we are buying them now as gifts).

Plus each of them buys a gift for the other.

All together, my kids will open between 5 and 10 gifts on Christmas morning, some small and some bigger, some are things they need and a few are toys.

In response to your SWH: He is only 6. It's his job to test limits and it's your job to enforce them. Definitely don't take away Christmas, but do limit it to what you can afford. It doesn't have to be a huge pile of gifts to be fun.

Also think now about your response on Christmas day if he asks for the other things on his list. When mine were 8 and 5, they came to me on December 26th and said "Since Santa didn't bring us XXX (a really expensive present they asked for), can you buy it for us today?" When I got over my shock, I told them no, I didn't have $ to buy it, but if they wanted to save up their money, they could work towards buying it. They saved all their Christmas $ from grandparents and I made a chore chart and gave each chore a pay rate. I got a pack of $1 bills from the bank and when they did something on the chart, I paid them. It took them 6 months (a long time for kids that small), but they did eventually earn enough to buy the item. I think we all learned a lot and I now know that 6 years old is not too young to start teaching kids that money has to be earned, and how much work it takes to earn enough to buy expensive things. My little one who was 5 at the time (and now age 7) is now really good at looking at prices and deciding if things are worth their price tag or (as he sometimes says) a rip off.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Early on when our kids were little, we had a budget. One child always seem to want the expensive gift and the other could care less. There were times one child got the big gift and a few small presents and the other got lots of gifts. The monetary amount was the same just the size was different. We were fair but the older one thought we weren't because the little one had more boxes to open. Over time, he got to understand about gifts.

Sometimes it is better is not to get all the "wanted" gifts as it sets you up for more each year. So when the kid gets to 16, s/he will expect a brand new car.

Everything in moderation even if you can buy the world. Remember you are guiding this person to be self-sufficient in a not so perfect world.

Good luck to you and happy holiday season.

the other S.

PS We don't need everything we want.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

They are young, so the great thing is you can easily set the tone for how Christmas goes in your home. Although it's never too late :)

Christmas doesn't have to be about going broke buying gifts. We try every year to work on that with our kids.
When I was a kid we did not get toys or clothes all year. It was our birthdays and Christmas, and a few things when school started. It's not like that for our kids. So they have a lot of stuff. I even asked my 9 year old a few months ago if he could remember one thing he got last year for Christmas. He couldn't.
We take our kids to pick a kids name off a tree every year, kids who may be in shelters or foster care etc. We have also done the random acts of kindness, and they can be small, like taking dog or cat food to a shelter, leaving a nice note on someone's windshield etc. And try to make gifts meaningful, like an experience, camping, a trip to the zoo in the future. Make coupons books where they can pick a night to choose what's for dinner, or a day out with you even if it's to the park. The "coupons" can last all year.
Make cookies, start new traditions. The one thing I remember most about Christmas as a kid was family visits, making cookies and the food!
Show them the season isn't just about getting!



answers from Portland on

I've never really had a present number, more so a budget. Ours is very reasonable. It's much lower (probably half, easily) than my friends.

When the kids were little, the would do a list of what they wanted Santa to bring. There might be 3-4 things.

I'd get those 3-4 things (none of which cost a lot) - and then the kids would get something small for each other (so that would be a surprise) and there would be a few things from family members (extended) plus a couple of surprises (stocking stuffers).

We did one big family gift (like a train set, or a Wii set, etc.) from Santa.

So there may be quite a few gifts but they are small, but the dollar amount has stayed about the same.

We do big ticket items for birthdays. All electronics are for birthdays. It's not reasonable for us to do otherwise.

I love it because Christmas is low key. But I hear you. I sometimes panic last minute and worry. When I have rushed out - I have regretted it Christmas morning though, and realized I didn't have to. So my advice would be to just cut off where you are now :)



answers from Los Angeles on

Don't cancel Christmas. You can still give your children plenty of gifts AND still have them be respectful, good, kind, caring, giving children.
It's a balancing act.
-Buy what you can since your budget it tight.
-have your kids circle the gifts they really want in store catalogs to give you an
idea of what they really want.
-have conversations with your kids about giving, helping others
-have them go through their room to gather toys they no longer play with to
donate to your local thrift store for less fortunate kids. Also, clears out the toys
they no longer play with to make room for a few new gifts.
-if you see a homeless person, point out to your kids how some people have so
much less that your family
-watch educational Christmas shows/movies to get the real message of
-teach while you enjoy the season
-spend time together making cookies & gingerbread houses.....you're making
memories!!! An even better gift than a toy....in the long run.
-they still deserve toys.....they are kids that don't know any better....yet. You
are their teacher & you will impart all the life lessons of wise choices, wisdom,
appreciation, safety, love, etc.


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the others. We had kind of a bad year financially so our girls 5 and 7 are not going to have as much this year.
But the more I keep thinking about it; that is not a bad thing. I have friends who have a lot of money and it is disgusting how much they are spending on things that kids will quickly grow disinterested in.
I took my kids to one of the Angel trees that the Salvation Army puts up to show them the boys and girls that don’t get Christmas otherwise. Of course, that did open Pandora’s box of why Santa doesn’t make it to their houses but I told them that the salvation army works for Santa.
Stop living with guilt and I say that from a mom who is filled with guilt all the time. Be kind to yourself. Kids are hardwired to be compassionate so if you can teach them to appreciate what they do get and not what they don’t; it will go a long way.


answers from Kalamazoo on

Kids are 13 and 15 now. They usually get about 7 presents, depending on what it is $ wise.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Our girl got a musical instrument that she asked for and picked out. That's it. The instrument was under $100 and it was in layaway for some time. But it's all we can afford.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Buy what they need .. don’t feel guilty .. can never go wrong with cloths . Also how old are your kids . Limit to 10’things


answers from Washington DC on

i suggest a re-prioritization.



answers from New York on

Our kids get 3 items from us and one Santa gift. We have a budget that we stick to, but we do not get worked up over being super "fair" on the dollar amounts, if that makes sense. This year, we have one kid who we are spending quite a bit less on, but last year, we spent more on him then anyone else. We try to strike a balance of what they "need" vs. what they "want" vs. what can we "afford." Usually the Santa gift is what they asked for/wished for, and the stuff from us is smaller and/or more practical.

I think 15 is way too many to be honest - if for no other reason, my kids would get bored if they had to open 15 things! They like to open something and look at it/play with it/set it up right away. Plus, I couldn't even think of 15 things to get my kids.

Good luck!


answers from Norfolk on

It peaked a bit for our son between the ages of 4 and 8 but it settled down quite a bit after that.
While we did go over board those years - we never spent more than we could afford - never went into debt and never got him things just to get him things.
We got him things he was interested in and really played with - and I can't ever remembering counting up what we got him.

My niece we had to stop getting gifts for when she was a few years old because her parents bought her an entire toy store for every occasion.
There was nothing she didn't already have and she didn't play with most of it.
Gift opening at their house lasted all Christmas week - I kid you not.

If money is tight - then cut back on the stuff.
It's ok.
Other than a few favorite toys - I bet they can't even tell you what they got last year.
If you want to give them a heads up - tell them that this year you are going for quality and not quantity.



answers from Chicago on

Mine are older now, but when they were little, it was probably around 6 each (santa gifts were separate). 15 each sounds excessive to me. Think about your budget and base it off that. No one needs to go in to debt for presents. This would be a great time to teach them about the holiday spirit being about love and family, not presents. I hate to say it, but if your kids balk at "only" getting 6 gifts, then an attitude adjustment is in order. Also, make the gifts worthwhile. I'd rather get 6 well thought out gifts than 15 whatever gifts just to make it to a certain number of presents. Maybe this is a good year to buy a family gift, such as a membership to something like a zoo, gym, museum, etc. I think people get too wrapped up in "how much" and "how many" and appreciation gets lost in the frenzy. Good luck to you and I'm sure your kids will love what you get them!

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