Tween Gifts for Friends - Budget?

Updated on December 22, 2012
C.. asks from Columbia, MO
10 answers

Do your tween girls exchange gifts with their friends? What is the budget? How many friends do they exchange gifts with?

I have a 7th grade, 12 year old daughter. We moved from a big city to a smaller town a year ago and it took her a while to find friends. Even though middle school can be full of cliques.... my daughter established a wide circle of friends.... none of whom seem to hang out with each other. So - although she has 7 or 8 friends with whom she is close.... they all have other friends (with whom I would consider "aquaintences"). My point is.... we don't have a history with these kids or know "how it works" here.

So far she has not exchanged gifts with friends. We do exchange gifts with family, and she does not have to "pay" for those herself.

She asked me tonight if she could go with 2 friends tomorrow to lunch and they were planning on exchanging gifts. I asked what she thought an appropriate budget was and she didn't really know. I don't really know either.....

As an FYI - she doesn't have an "allowance" and she isn't paid to do general stuff (room clean, empty dishwasher etc). Over the last 6 mo or so we have established that there are certain things she can "earn" money by doing. So, if I told her she had to buy these gifts herself it wouldn't come as a shock.

Just wondering what you guys do?

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answers from Boston on

We just went out today for my 12 year old daughter who exchanges gifts with only 2 "close" friends. She spent about $10-$12 for each. One girl got Christmas themed knee socks with toes and a little box of strawberry cookie sticks and green nail polish; the other girls got a doll she wanted that we found on sale for $10 (instead of $20) and since she is vegan a pack of gum she likes. They gave my daughter a notebook and cute pencil and a cartoon book respectively. In younger years it was stickers and clay and such. My 15+ year old daughter just goes to the mall with her friends where they eat lunch together and they make eachother little cards or drawings, no gifts (she has a much larger group of friends). If all else fails, we go to Claire's for funky little cases with eyeshadow of cute little lipglosses or hairbands, etc.

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answers from San Francisco on

For this kind of gift exchange the drug store is cheap and appropriate.
Lip gloss, nail polish, lotion, cute socks, candy, etc.
I think you could do up some sweet little gift bags for two girls for no more than $20 or so, that's $10 each, maybe even less (depending on how crafty you are with the wrapping!)
I always, and still do, give my kids a bit of a budget when it comes to giving, because I like them to experience giving as well as receiving, even when they have very little money :-)

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answers from Washington DC on

It has varied over the years, but I don't think SD has spent more than $20 each on her best friends. Frankly, there are a lot of nice things she can get for her dearest friends in the $15 and under range - lotion from Bath and Bodyworks, jewelry from Claire's or Icing, funky socks from Target or Hot Topic. I'd encourage her to go for little things they will like vs trying to do something big just to be big.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd try to get to know the mom's of these friends so that when you have a question like this you'd feel comfortable asking them. They might have a really good idea of how much their girls are spending. If they take them shopping especially. They may have even purchased the gifts on a shopping trip. So call them and ask them if they have an idea as to how much was spent on her gifts.

I would say that buying them a cute pair of earrings that are not cheap, like cheap ones from Walmart, would be acceptable. Or if they like other stuff then something from an area they do.

She doesn't want to find that she has overspent or under-spent. Perhaps next time they can discuss a limit of how much they each don't want to go over.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

We always tried to find things we could make. My 2 girls did have a large circle of pretty close friends so it was always cheaper, and something the other kids really looked forward to. They always waited to see what we would come up with :)

One year we did homemade hot cocoa, and little mugs to go with it (by far the biggest hit). One year we did chocolate covered pretzels and placed them in a cellophane bag with some lip gloss tied to them. We got creative and were able to do it for very little money.

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answers from New York on

It all depends on the nature of the relationships. How well do you know the girls. How well do they get along. Do they come over. You have to take these things into consideration. My daughter is a social butterfly and has many friends, I get for the 2 besties as I know them and their families well. They've been around since kindergarten/1st grade. The 3 new somewhat close buds this year from HS, got a tin of candy-6.00, a small make up bag with brushes 8.00 and pj pants 10.00, and that came out of my daughter's allowance. If there are 2 friends that specified gift exchange, then you are getting 2 gifts only. The "aquaintences" get nothing, unless they specify gift exchange. Dollar stores are great because you can buy X-mas tins and fill them with candy-all at 1.00 each, lip gloss, nail polish, knee socks, teddy bears. Drug stores as well, they have what dollar stores have and you can check out the seasonal aisles. My Rite aide has mugs, mini snow globes, x-mas figurines. Bath and Body has great 3 for 10.00 mini fragrances.

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter is a senior . We gave her $200 for friends, family, gifts. All up to her discretion.

She stocked up on the specials bath and body was having and she got great deals.

She did spend more for a couple of closer friends.

This has worked for us for a few years now. Of course, determine the amount if $ based on your budget, etc.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi C.! You got some great responses. Many parents who don't have a money system in their home will this question around Christmas and birthdays. I posted a blog some time ago about how to establish money systems in the home so that this can be avoided. .

Bottom line is, the sooner you give your children the responsibility of their own money, the sooner they can make informed decisions.


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answers from Los Angeles on

$10 a person is good. My 11 year old granddaughter makes items from Duct tape (she asked for and received tons of it for her birthday in October) and has started selling them, so she had money to spend. She's a thrifty shopper like Gramma and found nail polish, lotion, socks, cookies, candy and more in the $1 spot at Target that she put inside cute little duct tape handbags.

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answers from Washington DC on

You may have already gone out to lunch and exchanged gifts, but I have an 11 year old daughter so I thought I'd share what we do. My daughter helped organize a gift exchange at school. There were about 10 girls. Names were written on slips of paper and everyone drew one. No budget was ever discussed (as far as I know) but I think all of the moms were on the same page. We went to Five Below and my daughter purchased 2 items (for a total of $7.50) for the girl she chose. When my daughter came home with a gift from a friend there were 2 items in the box, from Five Below! This seems to be the way to go around here. My daughter also wanted to exchange gifts one on one with a special friend in the neighborhood. She spent $10 on this friend. As far as who should pay for what, and how my kids earn money, we're still working on it! I paid for the gift exchange at school and one that my daughter does at Girl Scouts. But when she mentioned the friend int he neighborhood (after we'd already bought the first 2 gifts) I told her she was on her own for that one. But we don't have a good allowance system in place. One of these days I'll get that all figured out!

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