How Much To Spend On Christmas Gifts For Kids In 2021

October 15, 2021 Saving

There is something incredibly magical about Christmas time, especially if you’re a child. That innocent nature makes the holiday that much more special because at that age you truly feel like anything is possible.

As a parent, however, your job can be much more hectic. What with the planning, the cooking, the baking, and the never-ending shopping list, many are up to their noses in to-dos.

One of the undesirable choices a parent has to make this time of year is presents. And the back and forth internal battle of “How much to spend on Christmas gifts for my kids?”

The average cost for Christmas: Total

Ever feel like the holidays seem to get pricier and pricier with each passing season? That’s no coincidence.

According to research conducted by the National Retail Federation, sales in 2020 totaled between $755.3 – $766.7 billion. (That’s billions with a “B”). This was about a 5.2% increase from 2019.

Below you can see a visual of the year-over-year sales from 2015 to 2020.

As for the average household, the Nation Retail Federation shows that consumers spend almost $1,000 ($997.97 but who’s counting) on gifts, decorations, food, and other holiday items. 

Christmas: 8 gift rule

Having some boundaries on your spending can keep you from going crazy (and broke) here’s one that parents have made popular – The 8 Gift Rule. Designed to only Barr parents for giving meaningful gifts instead of just throwing money at the wall and seeing what sticks. Here’s the breakdown;

  1. Something you want
  2. Something you need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read
  5. Something used
  6. Something made
  7. Something to-do
  8. Something to play

This is ingenious because each family can pick and choose from this list and turn it into whatever works best for them. Your family could make it a 3, 4, or 5 gift rule if you so choose. That’s the beauty.

Christmas spending limits

Even with certain rules in place, parents and grandparents can wiggle their way into spending north of $1,000 on something to read, wear, play, etc. So in conjunction with meaningful gifts make sure there’s a sensible spending limit in place.

That’s not to say you can’t buy a top-of-the-line toy, but don’t spend outside of your means simply to keep up with the Jones’.

Equal Amounts

If you had siblings growing up,  you’ll remember the pain they were sometimes and that just seemed to amplify during the holiday season. As a parent, don’t add fuel to the fire, try to come in as parallel as possible with spending.

Do the kids notice? If they’re old enough and close enough in age, you bet they do.

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Thinking stuff isn’t really what you’re interested in giving your kids this year? You’re not alone, parents are starting to opt for “alternative’ Christmas gifts in lieu of the traditional toys and fluff presents. Here are a few great options for alternative Christmas gifts;

  • Experiences over toys – such as tickets to an event
  • Secret santa – have your kids buy for one another
  • Donations in your kids’ names – let them choose a charity they’d like to give to
  • A musical instrument – truly a gift that will benefit them over the years
  • An outing where it’s just you and your child, one on one

How much is too much?

There isn’t a sure fire way to know when you’re over giving (if that’s even a thing) but there are some good rules of thumb to watch out for;

  • If you’re overstressing about gifts, it’s a good sign you’re probably overdoing it
  • Having some financial trouble affording gifts might be because you’re overspending outside of your means.
  • Does your child expect many expensive gifts? This may be because you’ve overtrained their expectations.

Giving with intention

As a parent you want to provide joy and wonderful experiences for your child, especially during the holidays. One of the best ways to guarantee both of those factors are fulfilled is through giving with intention. Don’t buy just to buy. Ask yourself if the gift has meaning before you purchase. Is the gift something your child has put forth effort for? Whether that be in extra chores, exemplary school behavior or just all around good intentions.

And finally, it’s Christmas – don’t overthink it. Go in with a plan but be versatile and allow yourself room to make new traditions and try new gift giving tactics this year.


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