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How much do you spend on birthday/Christmas gifts?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I have come to the realization the last few days that DH and I totally overspend when it comes to birthdays and Christmases. I was sitting thinking about my youngest birthday coming up and it hit me that I always spend more than I want to because I feel bad no other family members even acknowledge my girls birthdays or acknowledge them on Christmas (last year we were staring with my inlaws and they didn't even say Happy birthday until DH prompted them). Growing up birthdays (and Christmas) were big family celebrations. I didn't even care about the gifts, it was the opportunity to spend time with my family and see them when I didn't always get to see my uncle and grandparents. I really think I'm trying to make up for the fact that the girls grandparents/aunts/uncles don't' take an active role by over compensating. I already spend a lot of time with my girls as a SAHM, my husband however travels a lot and has only been to one of their birthdays. So I guess I'm trying to compensate for two things, lack of family and lack of their father being there.
I want to stop spending so much for them because I want them to think of their birthdays and Christmases as wonderful family time and the reason for the holiday (we are Christians) not as a day to get a ton of stuff. However, I dont' know what a "reasonable" amount is. My parents use to spend 300 on each child for Christmas and another 400ish on each birthday. That seems excessive to me and we dont' exactly have the money to do that either.

So, long and short of it, how much do you spend on your children and spouse for birthdays and Christmases? How much do you spend on extended family (brothers, sisters, parents, etc)?
post #2 of 32
I don't give gifts to my parents or brother for birthdays. For nieces/nephews we do about $20 each for birthdays and Christmas. for DH and me - I wouldn't want to spend more than about $100 for either bdays or Xmas. For our kids...don't know. They aren't really old enough to get it yet. DD's bday is coming up (2nd) and I want to get her a really cute little backpack for daycare and some playdoh (mine never turns out well), so...$40 max?
post #3 of 32
My gift giving tends to be very practical. I give things that can be consumed, used, and not take up too much space!

For nieces and nephews (we have 9!) we spend about $5 for birthday or Christmas presents. I spend the year looking at sales for things they would like. For special birthdays (13, 16, etc.), I will increase the budget, but I spend no more than $20 per gift.

Parents and Siblings (I have 5) I call on for birthdays. For Christmas I try to keep gifts around $10 per couple. Again, I look the whole year for deals on things they would like or I could make for them (I've made everything from a "meal in a basket" to photo albums of the family growing up). One year I found silver christmas ornaments for $7 (originally $60!).

Kids: We usually make our family vacation in to the Christmas present, so I look at it like we would spend the money anyway to go away and it's a bonus that it's also a gift. We've done everything from a weekend in a local city (using hotel points for free hotel!) and finding all the fun and free things to do (reciprocal memberships to local museums, zoos, go to their parks, etc.), we've visited a water park/resort for a long weekend, and we've also gone on a 7 day Disney cruise (it all depends on the budget and how much we've saved in our vacation fund for the year). For birthdays we buy memberships to local attractions. We've gotten them for the aquarium, the zoo, a local train museum, a kids museum, etc (annual memberships range in price from $50-$125 for the family). Again, this is probably something we would buy anyway and it lasts the entire year. I usually buy a couple small things to wrap for them too, but I probably spend less than $20 (the biggest hit with my 4-year-old's birthday this summer was a toy car that cost $2!). We also cook a meal that has been requested by the child for the birthday dinner.

Gifts for DH: For Christmas we will often buy something together that we need for the house. One year we bought a frame for our bed, another year we bought a lamp we both really liked, another year we bought a new vacuum! Things we need, but we use Christmas as an excuse to add them to the budget. For his birthday I try to get him something he'll use and appreciate, but isn't too expensive. One year that was an ice cream maker and we use it about 1-2x/month and this year I got him a set of sterling silver candlesticks that I found at an antique store for $25! (he loves setting the table for special occasions, so he'll LOVE them!). For his 30th birthday I REALLY splurged and spent $200 for a watch.

DH and I have everything we NEED, the kids don't NEED more toys, so I try to make memories for the gift giving occasions.

I don't remember what I was given for each birthday and Christmas growing up (there are a few exceptions), but I cherish the memories of family vacations and exploring new destinations.
post #4 of 32
Xmas and Birthday budgets for DH and DS are usually between $50 to $100 each.

Xmas and Birthday budgets for extended family (including parents, siblings etc) tend to range from $20 to $30 each. Usually because I shop sales throughout the year I come in under budget.
post #5 of 32
It totally depends. This year, my SIL is getting some pajamas that cost me $7.00 on clearance last year (she loves pajamas and these are perfect for her); the year before it was some yoga socks I knit for her. The things we've given our niece and nephew have run the gammut as well. We try to focus on needs first and nice to haves second. One year, we gave my younger brother a digital camera (it was something he could really use for the work he was doing). This year, I hope to make all of dd's and ds's gifts as they don't need another toy. Typically, though, I spend the most on my mom. Could be $100 - $200, could be a $400-500 gift (in which case my brothers and I split the cost).

And in the past, I've totally over spent on our daughter. She is our first child and I have slowly learned my lesson. The toy room is complete and last year we started laying the expectation that Santa brings one gift and mommy and papi give 1. Because she'll also recieve gifts from mimi, grandpoppy and aunts and uncles. We, too, are going to be focusing more on creating memories. This year will be her first time seeing the Nutcracker, for example. And we'll probably do some making of food/drinks for gift giving for our neighbors.

On the kids, I probably have been at a high of around $500. That will definitely be lower this year as it is just.not.necessary for us.
post #6 of 32
DH & I limit birthdays to $100 each & Christmas to $150 each. We only do Anniversary gifts every 5 years. On my side of the family we do a gift exchange with a $25 limit at Christmas and do not exchange birthday gifts at all. On DH's side it is expected that we exchange gifts with everyone at Christmas (2 parents, 3 siblings, 5 grandparents, 1 uncle, 2 aunts, 4 cousins), and with immediate family for birthdays, so we try to keep it to about $10-$15 each for extended family & $20 each for his immediate family. This year though it will be a lot less as I am giving homemade salves, balms, hair oils, lotion bars etc to most of our family for Christmas.
Gifts are important to me, as there were some years growing up when we couldn't afford gifts or parties so my birthday would just be 'forgotten', but at the same time I am very environmentally & financially conscious, so shop for greaet bargains all year round, and like to buy gifts which are practical/usable.
post #7 of 32
I'm doing a homemade holiday gift bonanza this year, so it's less about the money and more about the time factor. A lot of it I'm doing with stashed yarn (I got a yarn of the month subscription from my parents), but there is purchasing involved as well. Most presents are under $20, but with a significant time investment.
post #8 of 32
For DH - around $50
For DS - around $100 for Christmas and $50 for his bday (his party is part of his gift as well, so it turns out to be around $75-$80)
Now, we have DS2 - we'll probably do $50 each for both boys this Christmas. It really all depends on what DS is asking for and what's on sale.
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the numbers everyone.. Heres what Im proposing to DH when he gets home (hes training right now).
Birthdays: 100 to include party/outfit (tradition in both families to have a special outfit for birthdays)/presents. DD2's birthday is coming up so I need to start looking but I want a budget first. I already got her 3 books and the fabric for her dress, Id like to get her a play laptop (she loves DH's laptop and tries to play with it all the time so while I don't like the idea Im not liking my DH spending even more time at work or hiding in the back room when we could be out with us) and some musical instruments. Her party theme is going to be polka-dot monkeys with a polka dot cake (Im making). Im only inviting one or two families over and we already have the food from a work BBQ they didn't use so I don't have to buy food (yea!)
DD2's birthday is in January. We bought her a small sewing machine since she has been begging for one and it was 50% off. That will be her present, Im going to get a few "Learn to craft" kits as well. She wants a Minnie Mouse birthday party but it will just be DH, me and DD2. Im due a week after her birthday so no way Im inviting anyone over.
The nice thing about Minnie Mouse if they have it at the party store on the island so I can go get plates and cups then a plain table clothe and DD1 will be excited.. and it costs like 15 instead of the 35 Im spending for DD2s party stuff.
Christmas I want to limit to 550 total to include the party we throw for the single Marines, contributions to the church baskets for the needy and for toys for tots, as well as picture cards for his family. My daughters have both been asking for new baby dolls (the ones we had before got recalled), they need new bedding and Im thinking of a combined gift of a small train set for both of them. They have a small plastic one right now but they run out of tracks when they try to set it up and then they aren't happy when they can't get back around to the station. We do an outfit and PJs every year but I already have the patterns, just need to get the fabric. I might cheat and use the fabric I have already so I don't have to buy anymore.

For DH's birthday hes getting his uniforms all altered and a book or two or three. Oh and Im getting a babysitter and going to his Marine Corps Ball, something I haven't done since DD1 was born. Might not sound the best but uniforms are expensive to alter and he just got promoted so we have to get new ranks sewn on all his uniforms. Christmas Im talking to him about what he wants to do. I want to do a weekend trip with the family but it tends to be expensive so probably won't happen (cheapest hotel is 80 a night if they have openings, unless you want to camp and I can't see me camping 32+weeks pregnant). Maybe Ill convince him to wait until after the baby is born, the Lily Festival is held every April/May over here and I love it. It would be nice to camp out over on the island its on and do some exploring. We haven't had a chance to see much of that island other than the festival.
For my birthday DH found a good deal on a digital camera he got because hes tired of me saying "you should have seen this cute thing your daughter did at the park" "Did you take a picture" "No you know I don't drag that big thing places unless I want some good picture".. He got me a small one to leave in my purse/diaper bag so I can take a picture instead of trying to describe it to him.

We dont' exchange birthday gifts with family. We do send cards but I have my DDs make them. Christmas we are doing picture cards and then for Valentines Day we are sending out cards mostly to announce our new arrival (Im due first week of Feb). We do get small presents for his Mom and my grandma on Mother's day as well as small presents for both fathers on Father's day.. However, they come up to around 10ish with shipping. Can't wait to get back to the states and not have to spend so much on shipping something somewhere.

I think part of the problem is my girls really don't have that many toys. There are so many things Id like to get them or for them to have that I know they will enjoy however I tend to avoid getting them. I have to remind myself that they are happy and that when they really want something (like the baby doll or the trains) they will tell me.. along with a description of which one they want. Even DD2 at 21 months will communicate what she wants, thats how I found out she wanted a pink monkey birthday.
post #10 of 32
Ours used to be $20 all around (not including our kids and each other), now it's about $5-10 due to budget constraints.

This Xmas I am saving up Swagbucks and that is my budget for DH.
post #11 of 32
We spend:

$25 - $50 on my mom and the same for my FIL & MIL (usually a combined gift up to $50)

$50 - $75 on each of my stepkids (they're 21, 19 and 17)

$50 - $100 on DS

$50 or so on each other (each)

And that's pretty much it. We don't buy for nieces/nephews since they're grown or almost grown, or for any other extended family.

The tree is another big expenditure, usually $50 to $75, and then the three of us go out to eat every Christmas Eve, so there's the cost of that meal.
post #12 of 32


I pick up nice things when I can get them cheaply or easily. I keep a running stash, and stuff shows up at birthdays and holidays when appropriate. Sometimes it just shows up as a nice surprise because it suits somebody's interest at the time. I regularly give gifts with a retail value of $30 to $50 that literally cost me $5 to $10 out of pocket.

There have been birthday's and holidays when DH and I did not give our kids much of anything because they got so much from other people. When our oldest turned five we didn't buy her a present, but we were living in Southern California at the time and she got to go to Sea World, Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo (along with a tonne of other stuff) in the span of a month and she got plenty of regular gifts from family.
post #13 of 32
We have cut way, way back on the number of people we exchange gifts with and it's been great. We both have huge extended families and Christmas was a nightmare. Last year, I finally put an end to exchanging with dh's side of the family and we'd stopped with my family years ago.

I usually ask dh and the kids to "buy me" a goat or something equivalent by donating to the Heifer Project or other charity. That runs around $150.

I mostly buy dh stuff he'd need anyway--a bunch of work clothes, etc.,and I'll probably spend another $50 or so on something fun.

The kids--it's hard to say. They are a little older this year and want expensive items. I maybe spend about $250 each. They also get some money to buy each other a small gift.
post #14 of 32
I usually do $20/person, max. We do more for DH's parents, b/c we get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant every year, and you can't get much with $20.
For ds, and each other, we spend a couple hundred, which is way too much, and we're cutting back on that.
post #15 of 32
woah! DS bday just went by... his first we are spending 30 dollars, and we are throwing a party (maybe 2-300 for catering because I'm too lazy/tired to cook).

I've been wondering though... it seems like we are getting a lot more expensive gifts for him than I expected. Maybe I'm cheap?

last year my family (just my parents, brother, sister and DH) did a 15 dollar secret santa. The rule was that you had to keep your receipts to prove that you only spent 15 bucks.

It was hilarious, with a whole lot of sneaking around, and buying odd things to get as close to 15 without going over. the gifts were all appreciated, but the memories even more so. I hope we do the same thing this year.
post #16 of 32
This year, I've budgeted $100 out of pocket for Christmas and I'm blogging about how I'm making that budget work. I've been really creative with no-money ways to get gifts, like using things I get mystery shopping, drugstore game coupon and sales combos, rebates, doing online reviews for store credit, earning Swagbucks, making gifts, buying second hand, etc. I have 17 people on my list and I think I'll be able to get all of the gifts for the $100 limit. The value of the gifts will be well over $100, though!

We're doing the four gift rule for the kids:
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

Plus a gift from Santa and a stocking of little treats. It's plenty without going overboard, and they'll surely be spoiled by the grandparents as well!
post #17 of 32
DH & I don't exchange gifts. We spend about $50/each on the kids. And $25-50 on other extended family members - parents, siblings, etc.
post #18 of 32
Ive stopped doing extended family and I only do DS. I have a budget number in mind for DS but his stuff is $$ so its a happy compromise of getting what he wants and not totally cleaning out my bank account. DS gets totally screwed from my family and there is no 'other side' so its just me who gets him stuff so I tend to spend more $$ and thats ok. I also do homemade gifts too. Xmas will probably come in around $500 and thats only because LEGO's are very expensive. We homeschool and LEGO's also count as 'school' work so I really dont mind.
Ive also been extremely lucky and been able to pick up a ton of shifts at work so I have the $$ put aside.

I do not do holiday cards or anything so its truly just DS this year.
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for taking the time to post everyone! DH crushed my plans on not exchanging for Christmas by mentioning I was already working on stuff to his grandma so now the family is excited to see what Im doing. Im the only one who takes the time to do handmade gifts so everyone loves it when they get a package from us because its either handmade or something from Japan. FIL has asked for something special for his birthday that Im going to end up making just because he deserves something special and no one ever remembers him. Everything will be kept cheap though, for Christmas Im going to do journals for most of the people (about 1.00 each for composition books and another 1.00 in fabric to cover them) maybe something else depending on the person. I might end up doing some knitting for some of the gifts becuase a couple of my family members wouldn't use a journal. It doesn't help that all my husband's family gets together for Christmas and I would feel really bad about sending a gift for one person but not for the rest.

Originally Posted by texmati View Post
woah! DS bday just went by... his first we are spending 30 dollars, and we are throwing a party (maybe 2-300 for catering because I'm too lazy/tired to cook).

I've been wondering though... it seems like we are getting a lot more expensive gifts for him than I expected. Maybe I'm cheap?
We spend the LEAST amount on my childrens birthdays of all my friends. I keep feeling really bad because no family sends them gifts, we dont' do parties (DD1 we did a first, DD2 we are inviting people over because we might be moving not so much because its her birthday) and we don't spend nearly as much as other people do. A friend of mine just told me she got her 9 year old a Coach purse and wallet as part of her birthday presents, that would be our budget for several years worth of gifts for one child. Whenever I see pictures of my friends birthdays I feel like im not doing enough for my children because they seem to have 3 times the number of presents for the same number of children and each present costs a lot more than what I spent. Like a motorized hummwv (which by the way I really dont' like those things) when my children got an outfit or something like that.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to let go of the guilt? Mommy guilt is bad when it comes to this stuff because we are on a budget and I never feel like I give my children as much as most of the others we know. I also know i don't want my kids to know we overspent and wonder where the next meal is coming from (that was very common growing up, my parents would spend a ton on holidays/birthdays but when dinner came there was no food in the house to eat, I remember going hungry alot) because that is no way to live. I also don't want them to become moms themselves and feel like if they dont' shower their children with material things then they aren't doing enough for them.
post #20 of 32
With regards with how to explain to your kids about getting less gifts or more inexpensive ones, what my parents used to tell me when I asked was that they preferred to use the money for my future (ie- college). I was never a materialistic child so it didn't bother me so much, but I think it was a bit harder for my sister.

Right now we spend very little. We value experiences as a PP noted of her family instead of material gifts so for my DS's birthday we take him to fun places like the Children's Museum. He gets tons of gifts from both sides of our family so that makes it easier. However, if that wasn't the case, I can understand the inclination to want to spend more.
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