There really isn’t a definitive answer to the question of how much to spend on kids at Christmas. The answer is going to be different for every family. Here are some rules of thumb to guide you on your gift giving quest:
- Does your child have so many things that he can’t think of anything to add to his list? This might be a sign that you’re giving your child too much. Learning to wait for desired toys and electronics or even having to work and save money teaches children vital life skills that will serve them well throughout adulthood.
- Does your living room look like a wrapping paper bomb went off on Christmas morning? You might be purchasing too much for your child.
- Does your child play with a toy for ten minutes and then set it aside? What a waste of money most toys today are. Children lose interest quickly and most toys are relegated to the bottom of the toy box, broken or lost. Instead of purchasing 20 more of these toys this holiday season, why not purchase a favorite few and invest the rest in clothing or a college savings bond? I know, I know! Kids don’t like clothes for Christmas. I would never suggest purchasing ONLY clothing for your child, but a few clothing items can be a nice mix.
- Are you helping others? The true spirit of Christmas is not about what we can receive, but what we can give. With this in mind, ask yourself if you are teaching your children the meaning of Christmas. Does your family choose an angel from the angel tree and purchase items for a needy child? Or perhaps you spend a day over the school holiday break helping feed the homeless at a local shelter. Whatever your activity of choice, consider spending a little less on gifts and using that money to give to others less fortunate.
- Do you have to go into debt to buy Christmas? If so, then you are likely spending far too much on your children and others. Consider cutting all gift buying in half. Older kids prefer cash or gift cards, so sit down with teens in a family meeting and decide on how much is fair and you can afford for gifts. Talk to them about helping others. Some families choose to do more on birthdays and a little less for Christmas when there are more people for which to purchase presents.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does, the decision of how much to spend on your child is yours. Just remember that teaching your children what Christmas is really about is far more important than any gift you can wrap and place under your tree.