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Ask The Readers: What is a realistic Christmas budget?

Today’s question is from Tara:

I am trying to scale back my Christmas budget this year as money is a little tight. I’m wondering, what would you consider a “realistic budget” for 10 immediate family members, including my two boys, ages 5 and 2? -Tara

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  • Carrie says:

    Without knowing all your details, I would say $250. That would all for $20 gifts for your immediate family members (8) and then $40 for your 5-year-old and $30 for your 2-year-old, who won’t care about the presents anyways. This would also give you a little extra for a buffer – $20.

    • J says:

      Just a thought, the family members in your gift giving can those be homemade baked goods or a simple plant or scarf. We had to stop doing the extended family members for Christmas and instead do something for their birthdays. We simply explained that money was very tight and the we could no longer afford it. Maybe if they are close by you could host the Christmas meal and that could be the gift? Just some thoughts.

      • Adrianna says:

        In 2008 (when everything seemed to crash) we stopped gift giving to everyone but our own kids. Even my husband and I stopped giving gifts to one another. Our family, once we explained our financial situation, was great about it. In fact, they were relieved, as they felt the same way!
        Communication with your family might actually reveal some surprises about how they feel about gifts and finances.
        Otherwise, I agree with J. Plants, baked goods or scarves might go over well. Personally, I don’t need anymore STUFF cluttering up my life, but a plate of yummy cookies or candy would be appreciated.

        • J says:

          Adrianna, we received the same reaction from family, everyone was relieved, money was tight for everyone.

        • Jill says:

          Adrianna & J, this is what we began in our family last Christmas. Now we send them a nice handwritten card with pictures of our kids. And I agree with J, everyone was relieved when my sister requested that we do it.

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree, I’d say $250-300.

    • Lydia says:

      We spend about $250 for gifts and that is buying for anywhere from 10-12 people. It takes a bit of work but by watching blogs like this and getting rock bottom prices it is quite doable. In case you are interested, I blogged about some of the ways we keep our Christmas spending under $250 for a family of 4 here:

  • Courtney says:

    I think that needs to be your decision. You need to decide how much money you have to spend without dipping into savings/other categories/credit etc…
    I start shopping a year in advance, make a lot of my own gifts and look for great deals so for our whole family (minus my husband) of approx 15, including 2 kids, we spend between $150-250. And I must note that even within this budget we have waayy too many gifts for our daughter and nephew, so a lot of it will be Birthday too!
    I budget separately for the hubby depending on what I think he’d love (I put away ‘extra’ allowance, secret shopper dollars etc toward his budget). Spreading out spending out through the whole year makes it painless and helps us get the best deals.

  • TJ says:

    “Realistic” can definitely be all across the board and ones personal income on a monthly basis certainly factors into what is feasible. We have scaled way down this year, too. Here is my answer based off of our budget for Christmas.

    10 – 20.00 for the immediate family = 100 – 200
    50 – 75.00 for the two kids = 100 – 150

    Total of $300 – 350

  • Wanda says:

    We spend about $20 per person outside our family of five, and $50-$70 within our family of five. Out total Christmas budget is roughly $700. Some of that goes to Christmas Shoeboxes. We just set aside $50/month with extra going in when we get an extra paycheck. We could afford more, but we choose not to.

  • Jessica says:

    Hello! Budgets are soo hard but having them is soo much eaiser! i also have a 2year old and a 5 year old.. (and a 1 year old:) Our budget for them is $50.00 each -total- we only give 3 gifts and then for christmas even pj’s..(discounted the year before:) BUT i do have to say i have been looking at the total of 150$ rather than the $50 each due to wants/needs.. we done shopping and still have $50 left in our budget…

    Family… our parents $50 each couple, siblings $10 unmarried, $20 married, Nieces/nephews $20 (we only have one) lots of handmade gifts

    spouse..$90 (from me to him) i save all year to buy nice things, and i shop all year.. SOOO for our christmas budget is
    3 kids:$150
    6 unmarried sibs: $60
    1 Married sib: $20
    niece: $20
    3 parents (divorced 🙁 : $150
    total: 380$

    hope that helps:) (SOO excited to say we are already $100 under!!!!

  • janel says:

    It totally depends.

    On cousins/in-laws we spend anywhere from 10-20…on my mom and grandma i spend 20-50 depending on what looks special.

    For my husband I spend months picking up small things for his stocking so thats super cheap. It just depends on what he wants/needs. For example last year I spent like 150 on him because he needed a bike (half off on black friday for 100)..this year I’m spending more like 50-60 on him.

  • When we were trying to paying off $100K of consumer debt, we had a budget of $10 for extended family members and $25-$35 (depending on the year as this was our budget for 5 years) for ourselves and children. We tried to do everything from extra food, events, gifts, decorations, cards and all for $300 – $400 each year.

    We are now debt-free and save a little each paycheck starting in January to pay cash for Christmas and our budget is a little more than double now as we can now enjoy the fruit of our labors of working hard for a few years. Even if you are not debt-free, it is smart to start saving at the first of the year so you don’t go into further debt at Christmas time.

    • Congratulations on being debt-free! 100K is QUITE the accomplishment!

      I love that you suggest starting to save in January. I have a straight “gifts” catagory that covers EVERYTHING (Christmas, birthdays, showers). I use that when I buy things to make homemade gifts, like at the apple orchard (I used the apples to make apple butter for everyone for Christmas). It’s so much nicer than worrying at the last minute if I have enough money to cover ____.

  • sona says:

    I have always been in favor of a gift exchange when there a lot of extended family, especially adults within one family, with a limit of say…$25-30. That way you only have 2 gifts to buy (one that you picked and one your husband picked) plus kids.

    • Helen says:

      This is what we do— we have a giant extended family that all spends Christmas Day together, so all the adults pick one for our “secret santa” exchange. This way we just buy a gift for one other adult in the family, (plus our spouse) and we all buy presents for the small kids. You might suggest this1

    • Nichole D. says:

      I agree 100% with the gift exchange. On my side and my husbands side the adults exchange names and all buy for the kids. The limit is $30 for the adults. I think homemade gifts are appreciated by most or if money is really tight just talk to your family and bow out this year. Spending the time together is enough. Another idea is to have the adults all donate the money they would spend to a charity. Everyone decides which charity to support and does that instead. Good luck to you! 🙂

    • Courtney says:

      We do a gift exchange. However, we’ve simplified it even more. We buy 1 gift per person for all the siblings (8 +spouses) so the max any couple buys is 2. We also ‘draw’ the children. However, since my brother and me are the only ones with grandkids, we just buy one gift for the others kids. So, we are in charge of 1 kids gift, and 2 adult gifts.

      I love it, because we have a limit and we are able to buy one nicer gift rather than trying to buy 8 little gifts (8 x $20 = $160; vs 2 x $40 = $80).

    • Jessica says:

      We do a secret gift exchange for the adults. Names are usually pulled at Thanksgiving. The requirement is that the limit is $25 and a poem which must be read to the recipient. I have to say, the gift is fine, but the poems are hilarious and it’s really fun. Some of them are short, some are long, but it’s all fun. Also, not having to buy all those gift is so much less stress, not just money wise, but time wise. We can also enjoy watching the kids open.

  • Early in our marriage we decided that we would limit how many presents we bought, especially concerning the kids. We give our kids 4 gifts (one is always pj’s on Christmas eve to be worn that night) and then “santa” brings 3 gifts BUT the gifts from Mom and Dad are WAY better than gifts from the jolly man in red. That has helped our budget tremendously! I budget roughly $80 per person in our 4 person family. All the others vary from $20 (for parents and grandparents), $10 (our siblings, which we exchange gifts with in a game called dirty santa or white elephant to keep costs down since between me and the hubby there are 10! ) and $10 for nieces and nephews. So my budget this year is $550 for everything!

    Good luck! Everyone’s idea of how much to spend varies so much, but maybe it will give you an idea of where to start.

  • Sarah says:

    I think it’s important to remember that the magic of Christmas for little ones is the idea of lots of presents to open, not the cost of those presents. They love the excitement of ripping open the paper and seeing something new and different inside. When my little ones were 5 and 2, we set a small budget ($50 per kid) and I shopped all the deals for one bigger item, and filled in with lots of little things. A spinning toothbrush, slippers, new character gloves, a box of their favorite snacks, toys from a resale shop or Goodwill. I could still be practical and make magic for them at the same time 🙂 It was fun to wrap all those little tiny items for them and have them just have fun tearing paper.

    • Andrea says:

      It depends on the family and the child. My toddlers were easily overwhelmed by all the paper. We do far less than either of our parents did for us as kids and our kids are still happy and satisfied with what they receive.

  • Challice says:

    I asked my hubby for $5 a week for the past year from our savings account. $5×52= $260
    This was for his 7 siblings and their family (all are married with family), my family of 8 siblings and parents (I am the only one married) and any gift exchange we may participate in (Church and whatnot) and for our own 3 children (who have very generous and giving Aunt and Uncles and Grandparents so they really don’t need anything from us but I love sewing them flannel pajama’s every year for Christmas. Have you seen the price of cotton lately? Yeow!) and of course, I always love to find something special for my hard to shop for man.

    So, this was my budget this year and what we could afford. What is realistic and what we can afford is 2 different matters. I make what we can afford to be realistic. 🙂

    • Valerie says:

      I don’t know if you have a Jo-Ann Fabrics by you, but on Black Friday they heavily discount their flannel – like $1.42 a yard or something crazy like that. I saved $140 on flannel to make pajamas for my family this year! Definitely worth the lines for the savings at Jo-Ann. 🙂

      One year, I bought flannel to make everyone in my family and extended family pajama pants for Christmas for their gift – I saved a ton of money doing that. It was like $3 a gift. Nice!

  • Siobhan says:

    Well I think that honestly you are probably looking at $150 minimum per kiddo. With toys $30-$50 a piece.

    For the Family members I would try to aim for $20-$25 but budget $30 just to be safe. For parents/grandparents you could always give them a combined gift of something that they will both use. Maybe a gift card to a favorite restaurant.

    I know that the numbers aren’t realistic for everyone, but if you really need to cut back on spending do you have to get gifts for everyone? My best friend and I spend an afternoon together instead of buying gifts because we would rather spend time together than just buy something just to buy it.

  • A Mom says:

    A follow-up question:
    What do you do when the people you buy for (whether they can afford it or not) spend $100+ on each of us when we only budget $20-30 for each of them (even though we can afford it)?

    We would rather spend time with our family than to go into debt over gift giving, but some family spend a ton on us. The result is that we often dread the holidays because we feel cheap in our gift giving. We love these people we just don’t want to go to the extreme they do in showing it with gifts. Then, I have a hard time getting rid of them or yard saling the stuff b/c I know how much time it took them to even be able to afford them.

    I hate to be a scrooge, but I have never understood gift giving. People spend money they don’t have or they could spend on something more practical in exchange for a gift that they may or may not like or they may or may not like.

    • Wanda says:

      We talk to our family members about what we plan to spend right up front. My family is reasonable enough to understand that we choose to budget (at all/differently than others.) 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      we have this happen every year.. my brother in law and his wife are able to have a larger budget.. and they use it.. at first i felt silly with my homemade gift but then i realize that they LOVE our homemade stuff.. and you are correct christmas is about the heart, they (my inlaws) love to give/bless and thats how they show love. Now after 7 years i just know that all that is given is done with a happy heart and it doesnt matter the $tag.. i guess maybe just let it ride.. give the best you have and they will to:)
      hope that helps!

      • jennifer says:

        I agree with this. I have been making food gifts for my extended family for a few years now. I felt cheap the first year, but after the second year when my uncle was so excited that I had made more stuff, I don’t feel the least bit bad now. They would rather have a plate of goodies instead of exchanging gift cards or gifts they really do not need. Everyone in my family gives what and how much they want. Some nothing and others generously. I say do what you can with the right intentions and all is well.

        • Courtney says:

          I find that the people who can afford the most, are happiest with homemade gifts. A loaf of bread, or homemade dinner. But, I think that’s because the people I know who can afford the most have the least amount of time, and usually dine out, or buy store bread. 🙂

          My dad was the same way. He would buy whatever he wanted or needed, so we always had to think of something homemade or different. One year we gave him one of those $15 rotating picture frames filled with pictures of the family. He still has it on his desk every day 8 years later (I should update the pictures!).

          • jessica says:

            I agree with this. depending on the “season” at work, my amount of time varies. I would enjoy a meal to stick in my freezer, or half a mix of cookies (1 egg worth for example), so I get to enjoy something when I have time to cook, without the worry of prep time and dishes.

            Plus, when you have a busy life, you don’t have time to think about what gift you would ask for, or use said gift. my mom wanted to get me pots/pans, but I’ve been traveling for the past year, so it would be a waste right now.

            • Jeanine says:

              I agree. I was thinking that I, personally, like to make my own cookies, but I am pregnant with our third child and I would LOVE it if someone would gift me with some freezer food!

    • Challice says:

      Do they expect you too? My mom easily spends $50 on each person at Christmas time ($50×5 just for us + my 7 siblings, Dad, etc and that doesn’t include Stocking stuffers!)
      But, she knows that we couldn’t afford that and really, everybody is fine with it! She can and she enjoys it. Last year my hubby made them a dish drainer board. It was kind of weird I guess but we knew they needed one.

      Gift giving is probably my love language. I love learning about who I am giving too. I love trying to find a gift that they will love. I love trying to be creative. I just love this season! 🙂

      Its all about attitude. Give with a loving heart. Even if it was a $1 store item. If you searched that whole $1 store for an item you thought they would love and/or get a kick out of it, if you didn’t give it hesitantly or guilty or whatever but enthusiastically with a smile on your face.

      Its all about attitude. 🙂

      • Michelle says:

        I would love a practical, handmade-with-love gift like the dish drainer your husband made. I love to create with my hands and wish I could get my whole family to go to handmade/homemade Christmas gifts!

    • Guest says:

      As someone who is able to afford more than most of our family when it comes to gift giving, I do not expect or want other family members to in any way feel that they should “match” what we spend. Keep in mind that for those who have a higher salary, they probably enjoy buying those gifts and may even feel cheap for buying something less expensive. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, just say that you’re very grateful for what they give but you aren’t able to reciprocate and it makes you feel awkward. They may continue to do it but at least you’ve cleared the air.

    • Careful Shopper says:

      We do different things for each side of the family. On my side we spend $30 per sibling/sibling family. This evens things out so the one unmarried sibling doesn’t feel left out and doesn’t have to spend a fortune on 5 nieces/nephews. On the other side (inlaws) it is harder. When single, my husband spent $50 each on his 5 nephews/nieces (siblings didn’t exchange so he spend $250/yr – yikes!). Now that we are married and have kids we can’t afford that, and I don’t think it is necessary. I ask for ideas from the parents and get something along that line (get a small item and add less expensive related items) but spend about $20 each. We do this until they are 18. I try to make something for our parents plus get something meaningful like a photobook or photo CD. For our Grandparents we get something like cookies that show we care but don’t cost much. We will share cookies with our neighbors who are new this year.

    • C. says:

      Oh boy do I understand what you’re saying. Same situation happened for YEARS to us and it got to the point i would dread opening presents w them…but after trying to keep up w them out of guilt (which is never good!!!!), we finally just started sticking to what we’d said. I had to release what they did and when we got bad looks (not from them really but from other members of the family who didn’t get it)…we got good at shrugging them off.

      Long story short, the economy crash has now affected them to the point they have no choice but to give within our agreed upon reasonable limits. I hate that their lifestyle has been so affected but I have to admit…Christmas present time no longer upsets my stomach like it once did.

      You are so not a scrouge.

  • Maegen says:

    I think you need to start with what is realistic with your personal budget-as in, what amount of money can you afford to spend without resorting to plastic or chipping into your emergency fund etc…

    You may need to tell your extended family that you are only buying for the children this year, or suggest drawing names from a hat, or do homemade gifts or gifts of service.

    Plus, don’t forget to budget for other Christmas expenses-like Santa pictures, the tree, stamps for the cards, etc….

    IF you can afford it, I think others budgets of 10.00-30.00 for grown ups and a larger amount for your boys, are realistic.

    • Bobbie-Jo says:

      The great thing about the ages of your children is they are young enough to not notice a scaled back Christmas, and you can set the tone for future Christmases. We try to stick to a certain number of gifts per kid – and not get hung up on spending exact $ per kid. I could spend $10 in matchbox cars and blocks for my two year old and he would be thrilled…my 11 year old lego kid tends to be a bit more expensive:) Recommending a number to you is hard, its too subjective – you only have to spend what you have to spend. $200 seems very doable, but you could spend even less with some creativity. This year for my 11 year old part of his gift is certificates – like, a trip out to ice cream with dad, or a movie rental with mom and dad, or a school day off… My husband did this for me one year, and I LOVED it! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    🙁 i just wrote a saga and ti was deleted:(
    i cant tell you about yoru budget but i can outline mine!

    3 kids @$50 each:$150 (ages 5, 3, 1)
    3 parents @$40 each (divorced) :$120 ($40 for the 1 couple and then $40 each for the other)
    6 young unmarried sibs @10 each: $60
    1 married sib @$20: 20
    1 niece@ $20: $20
    total :$370

    i didnt include my spouse i save special all year and buy throughout the year for him 🙂

    Also i am currently under $100 from what i budgeted.. i did this by buying throughout the year!! hope this helps!

    • Jessica says:

      ooh and we only do 3 gifts for our kids, and 1 pj set on christmas eve…..

      • Jessie says:

        This is close to what we do. We give each child 4 gifts. One big gift and then three small gifts. I think that while your children are young, you should set a gift minimum. This also has helped with begging for gifts at every commercial or item that they see in the store. If it isn’t special enough to be one of the 4 then they don’t ask.

        Your budget should be what you can comfortably afford.

  • Miranda Gonzalez says:

    I don’t know what you are considering “immediate” family members, as we only consider that to be those that are living in our house, i.e. myself, my husband, and our 4 kids. If you are talking about parents and siblings of you and your husband, my family has set up a gift exchange. All the adults names get thrown into a hat and everyone picks one, and that is the person they buy for, with a $15-$25 limit. That way everyone gets to open a gift, but it doesn’t put a hardship on family members who can’t afford to get a gift for every single person. As for children, we buy one gift for each of our nieces and nephews, staying in a $20 limit per gift. And we have learned not to go overboard with gifts for our own children as they will receive things from grandparents. Plus, when they have too many gifts it is like they don’t even appreciate what they have just opened, it just gets tossed to the side to see what is in the other presents. I hope that this helps. Good luck, I know Christmas can be hard to not spend too much when everywhere you look you are told to “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

  • Laura says:

    I think every family is different, however, we’re on a super-tight budget. Our year-round gift budget is $200. This includes all Christmas and birthday gifts. Due to our income, we only give birthday gifts to our family (my husband and I and our two kids). We send out birthday cards to other freinds and family. We have two toddlers – 19 mo. and 3 years. We’ve decided that we want them to learn to be content w/ less and focus on the meaning of Christmas, so we’re giving them just two gifts each at Christmas and one combined gift. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Angie says:

    I can’t give you an exact dollar amount, but when coming up with a budget I would prioritize the two boys. Figure out, realistically, what you can afford for your two boys and then give homemade items to everyone else. I’m not crafty, but I’m thinking of taking pictures of my children’s artwork and framing it. Or I saw this idea on Pinterest to frame scrapbook paper and use as a dry erase board. I think I might make something like that, and then throw in some scented candles and chocolates that I find on sale and/or with coupons.

  • Jessica says:

    We are debt free and committed to staying that way, and one way we do it is keeping the gift budget under tight control.

    I budget $50 for each child’s birthday. Anything less than that, I add the difference into their savings accounts (aka, future braces fund!).

    For Christmas, I budget $50 for each child of mine and $20 for my nieces.

    Our parents get framed photographs of the children. I will either get photo packages or 8x10s printed at Walgreens, which is the cheapest in my area. 8x10s are about $3 each.

    My DH has two sisters who are both married, and we just give them a token family gift like a cookie cutter and sprinkles or hot cocoa and homemade fudge or one of those wall calendars that you can get printed from various companies inexpensively. We spend about $5-10 on each couple. I only have one sister, who is severely handicapped. There are a couple of toddler toys she really likes to play with (and she is 30, btw). So if I see a good deal on those, I will get them for her. Considering she is deaf, blind and profoundly mentally retarded, she doesn’t mind if we don’t get her a gift!

    I do use Swagbucks and MyPoints to supplement my budget, so I built up credit and will sometimes use that to get a good deal. I used to use, but they ended the majority of their rewards. I just cashed my last one in, it was a $25 B&N giftcard.

    My kids will get the following this year:
    DD (age 6):
    bigger 2 wheel bike (bought for $17 at a rummage sale, came with a horn and basket too!)
    pillowghan made by mommy out of scrap yarn
    felt food cookie decorating set (part of what I got with my B&N giftcard
    book (got on
    Dress & leggings set purchased with Kohl’s cash
    footed pajamas, bought last year on clearance for $3.50
    candy and hair accessories for the stocking, got free after rewards from CVS/Walgreens

    DS (age 2 1/2):
    3 Melissa & Doug sets (purchased with credit and B&N giftcard)
    set of toy boats for the bath tub (purchased with B&N giftcard)
    book (from
    pillowghan made by mommy
    candy and toy cars for stocking, got free after rewards from CVS/Walgreens

    Baby (baby is due around the holidays):
    taggie toy made by mommy
    2 baby blankets made by mommy
    baby book, purchased with credit

    Niece age 6:
    Jewelry making set (purchased with Toys R Us giftcard)

    Niece age 2 1/2:
    Play-Doh set purchased with Toys R Us giftcard

    • Wow! Jessica you are a girl after my own heart! I’ve only spent about $21 on Christmas gifts this year straight cash, everything else was Swagbucks or other giftcards/rewards that I’ve saved up over the last few months! It’s so awesome to set up a budget and then realize you have enough giftcards and such to cover almost all of it! I think that’s what I’d suggest to Tara too. It may be a little late this year to try and make swagbucks and things like that work, but if she starts this year, next year will be paid for almost entirely I’m sure!

      Tara, I’d probably suggest $10-20 each, but don’t be afraid to get crafty and dig through some thrift stores, you’ll never know what you’ll find! I did customized mugs with Bible verses on them for my sister and mom and the mugs were found for 50 cents each at thrift stores (and I already had the sharpie and oven! lol) Plus they’ll both also get books I’ve found for them over the last few months of thrift store shopping plus a coffee bean/candle in a mason jar thingy I’ve crafted. Total for each of them, $8! You can find some GREAT kids toys at thrift stores too, make sure they have all the pieces if it’s essential to a game or whatever, but for the most part you could grab 2-3 toys for each kid for about $20 probably.

  • Kristy says:

    We do gift exchanges for the adults on both sides of our family. I highly recommend that!!! My family’s side does $50 gifts so that’s $100 and my husband’s family does $10-15 exchanges so that’s $20-30. For our girls, who are 2 and 4, I have $100 each but might hold over some stuff for their winter birthdays. We have 3 niece/nephews as well who I spend about $20 each on. So my budget is just under $400. My husband and I generally don’t buy each other Christmas gifts, but if we need something for the house we might consider that our “gift” to each other. Hope that helps.

  • Beth says:

    Here’s what we do: for extended family (grandparents, parents, sibilings, nephews) we budget $10 MAX per person. If you shop sales, clearances, deal websites (like or watch for ‘free, only pay shippng’ items from places like Shutterfly it’s super easy for me to stay within this budget. Everyone else – friends, neighbors, other extended family – get photo Christmas cards.

    For my hubby and I and our kids: we receive Christmas money from my grandparents … adds up to about $40 for each of us. So, we buy each other something we’ve been wanting and get the kids some needed clothes (using sales, of course!), pj’s or maybe an extra toy. Our kids receive SO MANY toys or books from grandparents and aunts/uncles, we feel like we don’t need to get them that stuff ourselves. But, we give them a Christmas ornament each year … that way they’ll have 18+ by the time they move out on their own. And these are pretty inexpensive to buy or make yourself.

    • Amy T says:

      I would love to hear from some parents of preteens or teens on what you budget. Most of the replies so far have been from parents of littles ones where I think you can budget $25 – $50. My kids are older now and it is harder every year since they now want more expensive things like iPods and electronics.

      • Lara says:

        Our oldest is 12, and I agree, it seems like gifts for him are way more expensive than they used to be. We are trying to keep Christmas spending somewhat fair between him and our younger ones, so we’ve decided to get our 12-year-old one big gift (an electronics item he really wants) and the rest of his gifts are either super small (purchased at Five Below) or regular things that we would need to get him anyway (shoes, socks, etc.). This is working for us this year because he will end up with several gifts under the tree without us spending an absolute fortune!

      • Beth says:

        I can’t help you with teen ideas … my kiddos are 7 & 4!!

        But, when I was a teenager my parents would give us clothes, ornaments, small gift items, books, etc … if we wanted expensive gifts or electronics we’d have to save up the $$ ourselves to buy them. I think my mom and dad had a budget for us around $40-$50 no matter what our ages … and this figure could be high too. They are pretty frugal people 🙂

      • Rachael M says:

        We have 3 kids who are 9, 11, and 13. I agree that it is harder now that they are older. We try to do one big gift that they can share such as a trampoline or Wii and then we spend about $100 on each for individual presents.

      • Lynette says:

        I hear you! Reading these responses makes me feel like I way over spend at Christmas. I usually don’t try to “keep up with the Jones’s”, but at the same time I don’t want my kids feeling like their friends always have more/get more than they do at Christmas. (That typically IS the case through the year). I probably spent $450 each on my 2 teenagers (15 & 13 last year) last year. Add to that hubby, in-laws, my family, work and church Christmas gift exchanges plus what hubby spent on me, and we easily spent $1500. Keep in mind, we buy pretty much NOTHING all year round, so we tend to give each other large household items that normal people replace as needed year round. When I hear $50 per kid? I think I had that much in their stocking. Which leads to my question – are these responses referring to “Santa” gifts as well, or just Mom & Dad gifts?

        • Andrea says:

          We easily spend a total of $350 per child, which includes close to $100 of useful, desirable items in the teenager’s stocking. I can get away with slightly less in the younger kids’ stockings, because I seem to find bulkier things. That includes one gift from Santa, which is our tradition. The newborn will get less this year, as he/she will be too young to notice, but we’re looking at $2000 next year when you add in what we spend on extended family. We are debt-free except our mortgage and plan ahead, so we’re very comfortable with this amount.

          • Lynette says:

            That makes me feel better! We are also debt free and even paid off the mortgage about a year ago. I guess ultimately, the “right amount” for a family depends on it’s particular circumstances. If our regular expenses were higher, I would not be spending so much – and when the kids were younger, the total was much lower as well. Mine are at the stage where they like to pick out their own clothes, so they will both be getting gift cards to their favorite stores. I’ve learned that they can do pretty well shopping on their own with a GC as their “budget”. If they know I am paying, they will ask for the most expensive of everything, but with a GC, they really try to stretch it.

      • TNK says:

        My kids are 14 & 15. I budget about $250.00 each as they always want some kind of electronic item. So a total of $500 for the two of them BUT I also put away AT LEAST $50 if not more from that figure for each of them into their savings accounts too so at least $100 is put away for the future. For their birthdays, I budget a total of $100 each. That includes whatever they want to do + their gift + money put away for savings ( I basically tell them their money buys pizza, cake, etc. for them and their friends, then whatever is leftover half goes to savings and the other half they can spend on whatever they want). It teaches them to budget and consider what is more important to them. The rest of the family I put together gift baskets from free stuff I get from couponing. I usually can find stuff on a mega sale, so I sometimes have leftover money and can get them little things.

        • michelle says:

          My kids are still little (5 and 18 months), but we spend a lot on them. We are spending about $400 on my 5 year old, and about $200 on my toddler, plus their stockings – which is usually $50-75 each. So we are spending $750 just on the kids. But we don’t have anyone else to buy for except our parents, and we spend $75 on each set, so $150 total. My mom always spent $200 a piece on us for Christmas (there are 4 of us), and when we were teenagers she would either give us the money or buy whatever it was we wanted. If we wanted something more than $200 then we would usually get the cash from mom and then save what we got from family for the rest. Of course $200 got a lot more when I was a teenager then it does now!

  • Cathy says:

    I find that an easy way to really lessen the amount I spend is to find one really neat homemade gift, then make it for almost everyone I can. This year is bath balls (epsom salt, essential oils, etc – Martha Stewart has an awesome recipe for this) and body scrub (also a recipe from Martha) . I’m also making scarves for a few people too. A few years ago, it was homemade ornaments from scrabble tiles/boards. I made people their name & another Christmassy word. A couple years before that it was tie blankets.

    Baking cookies, or fudge, or any holiday treat is a super inexpensive way to go as well. To “wrap” them, I bought a bunch of metal tins, painted them all a gorgeous light teal color, then spray painted through a piece of lace with cream colored paint… and tied them with twine. The tins cost about $10 for 15 of them, including the cost of paint… the fudge was the cheapest to make – about $3 per gift… and everyone LOVED it.

    When it comes to my family – I shop sales year round and hide it until Christmas. I have 5 kids plus Brandt and my Dad living with us… for the 7 of them, I’d say I spent about $750 (but end up getting a couple thousand bucks worth of gifts for this amount). Groupon is AWESOME, is perfect for giving gift certificates to people, is a great site to find things…. and of course then comes the picture gifts. this time of year, you can get personalized portrait items (journals, calendars, etc) for pennies on the dollar. One gift I am giving this year is a set of 3 portrait ornaments I bought after Christmas last year for $1.90 a box. I took pictures of the kids this year, popped them into the frames, and for about $2.50 a gift, I have the Grandparents & Great Grandparents a nice gift!

  • Lori says:

    If your money is “tight”, this would probably be a question that only you can answer. Please only spend what you can afford in cash. It’s the thought that matters when you’re giving. My family always appreciates yummy cookies! And I know my pantry usually has all the basics to whip some up for family and friends. You are going to get so many differing opinions on here but only you really know what you can afford.

  • Victoria says:

    Wow, this is a tough question to answer as it all depends what the people want and what deals you can find. I guess the first question to ask is..How much money do you realistically have to spend? Then I would divide it up accordingly, for instance at 2 most children don’t need much under the tree to be satisfied, also adults are usually okay with small gifts if they are well thought out…or even no gift at all if they know you are facing hard times.

  • Kristen says:

    We have scaled back a lot in the last few years. We have 2 kids (9MO and 2YO), so we can still get by with the gifts “not being even”, but we aim for $100 per kid. So, I shop all the deals. I surprised myself this year by how much I was able to get for them….$100 can go a long way if you want it to. We also do $50 per parent, and $30 per niece/nephew….we decided a few years ago not to do our siblings. We have a small family, so for us, that’s $100 + $100 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $30 + $30 + $30 = $490. This year, I came in at $487.35. The hubby and don’t do gifts for each other anymore – we reserve that for our anniversary and Mother’s Day / Father’s Day.

    • Kristen says:

      I meant to add that we don’t do birthday gifts, etc… with our parents, so this is our one gift for them for the whole year.

  • Stephanie says:

    I have friends that spend upwards of $500 per child for Christmas. This blows me away. In our family (2 parents, 3 children) we do 1 big gift and other small ones. My goal is to spend $200 or less on each. However, my 10 month old will be “unwrapping” necessities such as diapers too.

  • Diane says:

    A realistic Christmas budget is one you can afford. Gifts that show you really thought about the recipient are the best. Crystal has a series on handmade gifts. I really liked the brown sugar scrub from last year and the safety pin bracelet from this year. Crystal also had a great post on toys. There was one for snap wooden shapes. This would be great for kids. Good Luck.

    • Leslie says:

      I think the real meaning of “CHRISTMAS” has been forgotten. We are proposing that next year we don’t buy gifts for anyone, and just concentrate on “Santa” gifts for the children. My husband and I buy things we need when we need them, and I feel like Christmas has gotten so materialized. It is about the birth of CHRIST, not gift giving.

      • Cathy says:

        I agree with you to a point – and this year we are really focusing on Jesus. We’re having a birthday cake for him – reading the story of Christmas… watching a movie… and doing so many more things to bring Jesus to the forefront where he belongs. Each day we all draw names of someone else in the house to do something NICE for them. Whether it’s doing one of their daily chores for them – or leaving them a nice note somewhere – or even asking them if they want a glass of soda or juice… leaving them a treat on their pillow… We’re trying hard to focus on WHY we celebrate Christmas!

      • Andrea says:

        Even for many non-Christians, I think gift-giving has been blown way out of proportion. Sadly, I think some try to make up for all the things they couldn’t do during the course of the year with one day of gifts. Our kids get one gift each from Santa, plus their stocking and that it all they receive on Christmas Day. It has made the day so much more enjoyable for all of us.

  • Lara says:

    Hi Tara! A “realistic budget” depends on what’s realistic for YOU and your situation. The most important consideration is what you can afford, and a secondary consideration would be how simple/extravagent your family member tend to be. For us, my parents and siblings are quite frugal and accustomed to inexpensive or small gifts, while my husband’s family is much more extravagent/generous and bigger gifts are the norm. As a starting point, I might suggest a budget of $20 per family member and $50 for each of your kids. $20×8 + $50×2 = $260. However if your budget can’t accomodate that, there are many ways to find great gifts for less!

  • Jamie SC says:

    I must say I’m impressed with these frugal numbers. I think we end up spending between $850-$1000 on Christmas including the tree, Christmas cards, basically ALL Christmas-related purchases.

    • Angie P. says:

      I was just thinking the same thing, and I thought I was pretty frugal! We are expecting our 6th child in February and my other kids are 13, 8, 6, 4, and 1. My teenager is definitely the hardest to buy for and the most expensive! I have already spent about $2000 or more for the kids, husband, and grandparents this year. I think it just depends on the family and income too. I live by a budget monthly, but I also start saving in January in an envelope that is just for holidays and birthdays. I also save for back to school. We don’t go into debt to buy things for them and I use a good bit of swagbucks and amazon deals and I buy and sell a ton of stuff on ebay. I also try to buy from sites like totsy and zulily throughout the year. It was much easier when I only had 2 and they were younger. The key to us being able to do anything is staying debt free and my husband has been able to increase his income every year for the past 8, which has been a tremendous blessing. It really just depends on each individual family and their own circumstances!

  • Heather says:

    Whatever is left in your budget after you meet ALL of your other obligations.

    If that amount is smaller than you would like, I would suggest cutting back/out the adult siblings. I would prefer to get something for my spouse and kids, if I had to choose, then parents. Luckily, your kids are young enough that they will be happy with most anything. A fancy character toothbrush, mini-box of Goldfish, a few classic toys, books. Just wrap it all separately! When my kids were younger and the budget was smaller, I made the mistake of buying cheap toys that were poor quality, and they didn’t last the year out. Better to get less instead.
    Once my husband checked some books out from the library and even wrapped them. He got a few I wouldn’t have necessarily tried, and it was great! Free.

    If you really want to do something for the extended family, try some healthy homemade consumables like fresh bread, rolls, soup mix, spice mix, granola, etc.

  • “Tight budget” means different things to different people. Some people complain of their tight budget when they are eating out multiple times a week while a tight budget to others is 6 bean dinners a week.

    I think $100 it completely possible. $25 for each kid and $5 for everyone else. Think homemade gifts. Mixes, seasonings, etc

    • Whitney says:

      These answers are making me feel so much better about our own Christmas budget! My husband’s brothers are all professionals who spend money like it grows on trees. Our income is similar to theirs, but our spending habits are much, much different. I have repeatedly asked them not to buy me birthday gifts (they still do – in the $50 range) and sometimes I feel like a bit of a Scrooge when I only spend $10 each on their children, when their gifts for my children are more in the $30 range.

      My general rule as of late has been to guess what budget someone else would think is generous, and just aim to reach that total with the RETAIL price of my gifts. So if I think my SIL will spend $30 each on my kids, I score lots of deals and stop once the retail price of my gifts reaches $30. I figure we’re getting the same things – it doesn’t matter that I only spent $10.

      One question for everyone. At what age do you stop buying gifts for nieces and nephews? Growing up, on both sides of the family, we stopped receiving gifts after we turned 18. I think this is more than fair, but I have a 20-year-old niece and everyone else is under 5. She doesn’t even show up for most Christmases, but I think it will be obvious if she suddenly stops receiving gifts from us while everyone else keeps giving them. I’m torn – but I don’t think I should feel obligated to buy for her until she’s 40!

      • We do a name draw among the grandchildren on my husband’s side of the family – just like we do for the adults. The grandkids range in age from 7mo to 14yrs and they don’t mind at all. Price cap at $25. My daughter (age 7) drew our 14yr old neice this year. The neice is really into art so we bought her a nice sketch pad and set of pens. The pad was about $5 and we spent roughly $20 on sale for some nice art pens. We know she’ll be happy and daughter was thrilled to buy something for her “grown up” cousin. (She has to spend her own money so she saved up all year for this!)

        When the kids turn 16 we add them to the “adult” draw. My youngest BIL is now in his first year with the “adults” and he loves feeling “grown up”.

        Hope that’s helpful!


      • Ac says:

        We also stopped when the kids turned 18. I haven’t had to deal with that with my in-laws yet so that will be interesting. 😉

    • I love what you said about a tight budget. It’s so true!

  • Reading everyone’s answers both here and on Facebook is quite overwhelming. I am amazed at how much many people spend. Everyone’s ideas of what to spend is certainly different!

    I would focus first on your two boys. They do not need much at that age. If grandparents will be giving gifts to them, then your gifts can be needs, including warm clothing. Often grandparents will buy tons of toys and you can get pajamas, a coat (try children’s resale shops of thrift shops for a less expensive coat), and gloves. Focus on needs.

    Stockings can be very simple–candy and oranges (or clementines). If you have socks or gloves they can go in the stockings too. If you want more, you can include crayons (perhaps you bought extra this summer for .25 or .50 a box) and a coloring book from the dollar store. Other things I’ve done are homemade playdough or a box of clay ($1). If you wanted to spend more you could get them some washable watercolors.

    Your husband is going to have his own wish list, and everyone is different there, so you’ll know what he wants and if you can afford it.

    Anyone past that is extended family now–even your siblings.

    You can give homemade jam, bread, cookies, earrings, or some books from the thrift store or a used bookstore. I have found that several people really love homemade jam (the taste is phenomenal) and if you have a family member who needs to be low sugar, you can make low-sugar jam.

    Last year I made rosemary olive oil bread for several people, and it went over much better than cookies. Plus, it was less work for me, AND it was cheaper than cookies. It costs me $0.35 a loaf. People were still talking to me about how much they enjoyed it in July! Here is the recipe:

    Last year I made Subway art bookmarks for my children as one of their gifts. My 6-year-old son CRIED (in happiness) when I read his to him and gave me a huge hug and told me he loved me. It was the best gift I gave and it cost me .05. You can see those here: One of my readers said that she made one of these for her husband’s birthday a few weeks ago and he said it was the best gift she had ever given him.

    • Charity says:

      Thank you for your comment. I was seriously hoping that I wasn’t going to be the only one walking away from reading these comments with a bruised chin from my jaw hitting the floor! I cannot fathom spending the amounts of money that most people are saying that they do/will, and I don’t say that in judgement. We would have to sell our car or not pay our bills to be able to spend anywhere near any of these stated amounts! We have four littles and I’m pregnant with our fifth, due early next year. This year for Christmas we have spent no money at all. This time of the year is always tight for us and I have always made what I could and spent very, very little, mostly finding gifts at yard sales throughout the year, but this year there was just not an extra cent to be spent on Christmas gifts. This year has been extra tight! I began making gifts (sewing and crossstitching) with things I had on hand in August. Also, I’ve earned $30 in Amazon gift cards through swagbucks and will be getting a few books for my husband to add to his homemade gifts and one toy for the children to share along with a new read aloud book for the children. We will have a wonderful Christmas without spending a penny! 🙂 We are so blessed!

      On a side note, thank you Brandy for your blog and for what you do to encourage families like mine! Many blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!

  • Robin Eger says:

    We have 3 kiddos, ages 7, 4 and 2. We do a budget of 50.00 per kid. This year I am doing one larger toy, a puzzle and a book. We have often been able to come under 50.00 with sales. With a 2 year old I would feel no need to match the amount I spend. They have very little concept of the value of gifts. When money was very tight for us in the past I have found inexpensive gifts at rummage sales that my kids were desiring. They were not at all concerned that the toys did not come brand new in packages. If anything they were happy that they could play with them immediately rather than waiting for us to open them. 😉

    Oh extended family has agreements about Christmas giving. We do a photo book of our year for the grandparents. (We live far away from our families) and exchange one book with the nieces and nephews. I know that some families could not agree to that, but we decided to give each other the gift of not stressing over finances..

  • Ac says:

    I think realistic is entirely dependent on your budget. We have very good salaries and budget the following:

    Kids – $200 each
    Grandparents – $75/couple
    Great-grandparents – $50
    Nieces/Nephews (we only have 2) – $50 each
    Friends – Baked gifts (this year I’m doing Brand’s homemade French bread and a flavored butter log)

    I would encourage you to look at the Prudent Homemaker’s Frugal Gifts page:

    Lastly, several years ago we did not have the income we now have. I had conversations with family members and just explained that we didn’t want to go into debt to fund Christmas and did not want others to either. I was *shocked* at how relieved people were! Everyone seemed to be too embarrassed to have initiated the conversation. We don’t exchange gifts with adult siblings, only the children. That’s how we did it when I was growing up anyway. Once you graduated high school, you were an “adult” and did not get gifts. 🙂

  • Theresa says:

    For my side of the family, we draw names. There are two married couples and two dating couples, so that is 8 (plus step-mom) to buy for. All the “kids” draw names and our budget is $50/person. So we each buy for one. However, if this budget is steap for anyone at anytime, we tell each other so we don’t get cause anyone stress.

    My in-laws (plus sister-in-law) like to give gifts/spend money and it does place pressure on us to spend more on them also. We need to work on this and perhaps talk more about it with them. (Thanks to all those encouraging talking about it this!!)

  • Carisa says:

    We have been married for 32 1/2 years and have 6 children ages 13 1/2 to 31- none are married. We spend $25.00 for each of our children. For our adopted “grandkids” we spend $5.00 or less. We have a gift drawer where we stash new gifts from sales, yard sales, or thrift shops. The grandkids gifts usually come out of that drawer. We do gifts for both of our moms- kind of hard since neither one needs anything. We would think we had something nice and my mom would turn around and give it back to us a few months later. Last year we got both our moms gifts from VistaPrint that were “free” except for shipping. We spent about $10.00 for each mom and got them things with our family picture on it- mugs, notebooks, pens, etc. Both mom’s were thrilled. We had skipped our siblings for many years- last year we used some of our daughters awesome photos she had taken and got calendars done for our 4 siblings. 1 thank you out of 3 gifts- think we are skipping sibling gifts this year…. We would prefer to do to baked goods or something handcrafted for friends that we are closer to than our siblings. We made 51 pumpkin rolls Monday Thanksgiving week and these will be gifts for friends, neighbors, and people we attend church with. Some were cut in half so that makes about 75 gifts.

    • I’m not sure I agree with setting an “amount” for younger kids. Once children get older and understand more about money, then it makes sense but when you are talking about a 2 and 5 year old they aren’t going to know that you spent more on one than the other. We are spending different amounts on each child because what they want is different. Mine are 1 and 2 years old so we are only getting 2 gifts each (1 from santa and 1 from us). They get more than enough from our extremely generous family. We are spending vastly different amounts on them – but they aren’t going to know the difference.

  • Budgets are so hard as they vary from family to family depending on your situation. While our budget always changes depending on our financial situation my husband and I do sit down every year in October and set a specific budget.

    I do try to find great deals throughout the year but we make a point to decide in October how much we are going to spend on each other and our families (no kids yet). This allows me to plan out my holiday sale shopping at to keep my eyes peeled for great online deals and for things at places like TJMaxx and Marshalls.

    Knowing my budget allows me to shop more effectively and make sure that I am not spending too much on anyone person.

    We also save our gift cards, rebates, and amazon credits for our holiday shopping so we can use those first and save our cash towards other expenses.

    For extended family, I try to snag holiday plates and platters during the year before’s clearance and then bake/make treats and snacks and gift them to people on the plates. By couponing and stocking up on baking supplies when there are super deals I can usually give people lots of goodies on a super cute plate all for a very low price.

    • Amanda says:

      Early in our marriage my husband and I got tired of all the shopping/spending stress that seemed to overshadow Christmas. Neither of us like to buy things people don’t need or won’t use so trying to find the “perfect” gift was awful. One year we decided to make a donation to Heifer International in lieu of buying gifts for the adults. We told everyone our plan at Thanksgiving and invited them to make a donation instead of buying each other gifts, as well. This has worked fantastic for us and taken SOOO much of the stress away! The rest of our family’s donations have tapered off which is fine (that’s their choice) but we continue to donate each year and can vary our donation amount based on our financial situation. Our son loves looking at the Heifer catalogue and choosing which animals we want to “buy” for people. 🙂 We do still purchase gifts for our own two kids (around $100 each) and our 5 nieces and nephews (around $75-100 total) and then we make a small gift for each family such as homemade bread or jam. With our own kids this year we are trying the “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” method to cut down on new-toy clutter. Our Christmas gift budget ends up being about $400 including our donation. Sometimes my husband and I buy for each other depending on our situation and whether we get around to it! 🙂

  • anonymous says:

    Whatever you can afford, in cash, and not at all feel stressed or strapped by.

  • Emily M says:

    We are budgeting about $600 this year. Money is tight, but I’ve saved all of that by taking surveys and such online (Opinion Outpost, mturk, jingit, etc.). We know that we don’t HAVE to buy presents for everyone, but we feel like it connects us to our families since we don’t live near any of them.

    $100 each for our 2 oldest: 6 & 4 – I prefer quality at this age….my son plays primarily with Legos and I know he’ll play with them for years to come, so we buy when they are on sale.
    $30 ea for our twin 1 year olds: they don’t need anything, but it’s important for us that our older kids know that they are important, so they need something under the tree
    $50 each for my husband and I
    $100 for my husbands side – he has 3 siblings all with fairly large families. We draw a family and that family can determine how they want the money divided for gifts. It’s fun 🙂
    $100 for my side of the family – 2 brothers, 2 sister-in-laws, 2 parents, 2 grandparents ($10-15 gift for each of them – just a little something to show them we love them)
    $20 for my husband’s dad and wife – usually a photo gift of some sort

  • Cass says:

    When people see money spent for gifts as how much love is shown it is hard. We would prefer to make gifts for people. I can take you to the spot in AC Moore where my mother inlaw told me that a bought gift showed love more than a handmaid one. We don’t spend much on gifts and that is reflected in the gifts we get from my inlaws. When you sit there and receive as your gift a teddy bear tin can with embroidery floss and needles while your bil’s wife gets 3 Precious Moments figurines for her gift it is bearable. What is hard is when you feel like it is rubbed in your kids faces when they see or hear or see via video how much the other grandkids get compared to them. It did help with life’s lesson that nothing is fair and equal. Our kids take the unfairness as part of life.

    MY ADVICE is to do what you feel is right- don’t feel that you have to go with the big dollar amounts. Don’t feel that you have to spend money on a bought gift if you would prefer to make something. If you would prefer to give something small to everyone in the family rather than draw names feel free to speak up. I think- if needed- a good cut off point for kids is when they turn 18. That’s what my inlaws did. My mom is still giving gifts for at least 9 grandkids from 19-31 who are still single and no potential spouses in sight.

  • Carla says:

    $10.00 each grandchild plus stocking stuffers which I bought throughout the year (1o)
    $25 for each of our married kids per couple plus stocking stuffers, which is a couple pieces of fruit and beef jerky for the most part. (4 couples)
    Plus I made each couple an ornament for $1.25 and my daughters something from Pinterest $1.25 each. We did this at the craft day at church.
    $15 for my elderly aunt plus postage to mail it
    $25 for my husband plus stocking stuffers, plus he does the same for me.
    $10 for a couple in our church
    $15 for a widow friend
    $2 a piece for my Sunday School students (6)
    $5 church gift exchange
    $5 cookie exchange
    Plus we make a box for Samaritan’s purse plus $7 to ship it, donate money to send church college students small gifts, and donate money for assisted living home residents to,give to them when we Christmas Carol for them.
    $16 for church Christmas dinner.

    All of this adds up. We have wrapping paper, and if I do not have Christmas paper, I use regular. Cards are hand delivered.
    We also have 3 birthdays in December.

  • Kelly Hess says:

    We start saving in February and put away $75 a month. We now have $750 in cash to spend on Christmas. We have 2 boys 6 & 3 and a 4 month old girl. I also buy for my niece & nephew and our parents.

    • Karen Rucker says:

      Our aim is usually for $50 or less per person who lives in the house and $15 or less per close friend or family member who lives outside the home. That being said, “or less” can be as low as zero if I can find a nice freebie to give and the upper limit also tends to be flexible depending on what type of gift I’m giving. Just say I had money set aside in my regular budget to buy my husband new work pants that he needed and I happen to find a nice pair in December. I might wrap them up and put them under the tree just so that it seems a bit more festive, but I wouldn’t count that as part of the gift.

    • Leah says:

      We are Jewish, and we budget $1,200 for the holidays. We are debt free with a good income and save $100 each month in an ING account. We won’t spend all of it this year, but it’s there. It pays for a big Chanukah party/dinner, 8 nights of gifts for each of our boys (one big one (a trampoline this year) for one night and then 7 that are around $10 each). Gifts for my dad, mom, sister, plus one sibling from my husband’s family. We don’t give gifts frequently and try not to spoil the kids; this is the one time of year that we buy them stuff purely because they will love the gifts. We also use part of the money to buy gifts for the Shoebox Drive their school has, plus toys we buy ourselves for Toys for Tots.

  • Kim says:

    We get our children 4-5 gifts each, because grandparents and aunts and uncles buy for them as well and it gets overwheleming for them. For stocking stuffers they get toothbrushes, a small treat (I use coupons for these) and a dollar store game, stickers or book. (totaling $100- $150)
    For nieces/nephews you could get an ice cream gift certificate: If there is a Baskin Robbins near you they have $2 gift certificates, so get them 2 and they can buy a sundae! What kid doesn’t like ice cream!?
    For family outside our home: we draw names on both sides (so we have a total of 4 names (2 from hubbys side and 2 from my side)). We set a budget as a whole family of $30-40 and spend no more than that. Total of $120-160 which we aim for the low end.
    We like to give things to our parents (from the grandkids) and we let the kids do a drawing or painting and put it in a dollar store frame and wrap it up. Grandparents are happy to get artwork from grandkids! I have used free prints form shutterfly and put them in a $1 album for grandmas and grandpas to use as a brag book!

    If you buy for everyone, do Chick-fil-A calendars they are $5 and come with coupons every month. We write birthdays and anniversaries in the calendar as well. Or baked goods that are favorites… We give my brother-in law and his wife frozen peanut butter cookie dough with baking instructions, so they can have their favorite cookies anytime they want!

    **I have been searching deals and I drew my moms name this year and she is getting an iPad. So I found a deal on for a case with a photo on it for 1/2 price. She’ll never know that I only paid $20 for her gift, even though our budget was $30-40!

    I always have a plan for people. If I drew my brothers name I would be on the lookout for a calligraphy set that is on sale or markdown or a coupon to a place to buy one.

    • Alex says:

      My husband and I have started getting just small gifts to go under the tree and are now having a joint large gift-like a new tv we got on Black Friday or a bed and breakfast with a groupon. Also, we are both required to make each other one homemade gift each year. I have gotten a homemade cd of my favorite Christmas music, coupons for dishes, back rubs, etc. This year I am making him a set of date kits in a box since we can’t always get away from our baby to have a date.
      Otherwise I keep my eyes open all year for things family members would like and daily check amazons deals and targets daily deals. When I see something I know they would love at a great price -I get it.

  • Christina J says:

    For three children who are teenagers, we have a budget of $50 each. On The Prudent Homemaker site I found some great ideas for my niece and nephews where I can put a lot of love into their gifts but little money using my pretty fabric I have from quilts I have made or just my printer and paper and a little time so their gfts are “free”. I keep checking Money Saving Mom for deals for extended family members and that’s helped a lot! My in laws love homecanned items, so again, very little money just time and I worked on that this fall. An assortment of jams and jellies is about $6 for a family. Board games are so inexpensive this time of year w/a coupon (about $6) and work well for a family gift. Another idea? My favorite gift we recieved was a Papa Murphys? pizza from a friend who did home delieveries for those on her list the day before Christmas Eve. She got a discount because she ordered a bunch. Our whole family LOVED it!

  • Esther says:

    I usually try to only spend about $200. I have three kids, ages 2, 4, and 6. I get most of their toys and books from yard sales, thrift stores, and toys swaps with friends. We might splurge and buy one “high-end” toy, like a lego set, for each child. The rest of my extended family (parents, in-laws, nieces and nephews) know to expect inexpensive or second-hand gifts from me. It’s just a given in my family. I start looking out for Christmas presents for people in late summer and stash them away. I also give a lot of food gifts — either homemade baked goods, or a package of flavored coffee (purchased with coupons/sales), or a bottle of sparkling grape juice, or a can of mixed nuts.

  • Andrea says:

    This totally depends on your income, availability of funds, how much you enjoy gift giving, what lifestyle you want your family to follow and how much money you’re willing to set aside in your monthly budget. No one can tell you what is reasonable for your family.

  • Tiffany says:

    Such a great question… we’re in the same boat this year! Normally I try to plan ahead throughout the summer/fall months but this is my first year ‘with baby’ and all that planning fell to the wayside. 🙁 Thankfully we saved a ton with Cyber Monday this week on presents, but I’m guessing we’ll end up around $300-$350. We also had a little discussion with our family and let them know we couldn’t do presents all around and got great responses as well! 🙂 Good luck!

  • Rachel says:

    My family (I am the 6th of 9 kids, then there are the in-laws and nieces and nephews, etc..) have always drawn names of those who wanted to participate in a gift exchange.. my husband and I have participated even when financial times were tough mostly because we felt like we would be letting everyone down.. A few years ago I knew money was tight not only for us, but for a lot of other family members and I called everyone to see if they would be willing to put money towards a charitable cause instead of our “up-to 25$ limit per gift” we could put however much towards a charity.. I thought the fun way to pick a charity would be to put the names of the charities into a bowl and draw out the first one.. At first everyone was on board for the idea and slowly I started getting phone calls that not everyone was a fan because the gift exchange was fun and the kids really look forward to it, etc.. I was really frustrated over that but relented to the wishes of everyone else.. Until this year, I told my family that my husband and I (and our girls) would not be participating and instead we would put our gift money towards the charity of our choice – and at first I was supported, but a few days later started hearing that again, not everyone supported our decision.. My husband and I want to teach our children that it is better to give than to receive. They were excited to see that this money would be going to someone that truly had so little. Our girls are still getting something from us (budgeted) and they still receive something from my husbands parents.. If I participate in any other gift-giving during the season, ie, white elephant gift party, etc, I try to keep it inexpensive and within my budget.. I don’t want to go into debt just because I feel obligated to rise to somebody’s expectations of what I should be giving..
    Last year, my neighbor and I helped our kids put together some gift jars of homemade trail mix and we took the girls around the neighborhood to hand out the jars.. Our girls felt so excited to wish our neighbors a Merry Christmas and we shared the expense of the jars and so it didn’t cost a lot..
    My advice to you, is to give only what you can afford and to communicate with your family – even if you are not supported in your decisions, although, hopefully, you will be supported, you will feel better for being honest with yourself and your family about what you can realistically afford.
    Blessing and a Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  • Bailey says:

    Here is my budget:

    $300 each for 2 oldest children
    $150 for the youngest child
    $150 for mom
    $200 for others (coworkers, extended family, friends)
    $100 (probably less) for food
    Total: About $1200

    I am a single mom, so one (small) income; but I put $100 each month into a savings account just for Christmas, plus I save up my change until Christmas, I have 2 yard sales a year, and sell stuff on Ebay/Craigslist that I find at yard sales. All gifts to extended family and friends are homemade (the $200 is for the ingredients/materials).

    One gift we love giving extended family is Gifts in a Jar. They’re easy to make and the recipients love them. They can make them whenever, so they don’t have to have them right away when there is already lots of other holiday food to be eaten. 🙂

  • jerilyn says:

    This is a very personal question. Every family will have a different amount. How much cash do you have to spend? For us, every year is a bit different. This year I cashed in my pampers points for shutterfly credits. I also had a shutterfly gift card from something. I will use this to get a picture gift for our parents, as well as pictures to send out for cards. I may have to pay shipping, not sure. We don’t do gifts for siblings- we stopped years ago and are all still poor. 🙂 For our 5 year old I got hm a small lego kit and homemade lego bag to store them all. For my 3 year old I got him a new cars car and will make a felt car mat. Didn’t buy the baby anything… Spent $16 out of pocket (had a gift card from my baby shower that I used.) For me and hubby I have $20 in amazon gift credits from swagbucks and $25 in amazon gift cards from our bank’s rewards system. We’ll either get something together or split it up 😛 Or trade/barter for whatever cash we get for Christmas. Normally we spend a bit more but the last part of the year was a financial disaster. We also like to take the same amount we spent on gifts and give a special offering to the church.

  • Sarah T. says:

    In most climates it’s too cold to yard sale now, but that is my answer to the budgeting problem. I try to budget about $20/week during the yard sale season to pick up stuff for birthdays and Christmas. Most items don’t get worn out or broken before being discarded. I am able to pick up clothing for .25-$1/item at most any sale. Toys vary. If you are needing ideas for this year still that fit within a very tight budget, you can always hit craigslist.

    Some of the cheaper ideas we’re doing this year are dry-erase boards and markers, play silks (instead of buying them online for $10-$15, I ransacked the local Goodwill for flowy scarves with fun prints- it was actually a Goodwill Outlet, so at $1.29/lb., these were a steal!), Hot Wheel cars (still $1 and name-brand). You can also do something that people won’t normally buy for themselves because it seems extravagant, but for a gift it’s pretty inexpensive- like a nice candle or a Smash Book.

    Also, if you’re wanting something Christmas themed for someone else (say, a gingerbread house or ornaments) wait until 4 or 5 days before Christmas. They’ll be on sale or clearance already, and you’ll be able to get them half off or better. And the gingerbread house- great family gift. Around $10 full price, but the kids will have a blast decorating it. A great decoration for the season, no clutter after.

  • Wendi says:

    For parents of teens—what I have done for Christmas with my boys when they have wanted something big (a play station, or computer) is to split the cost with a grandparent, and have them help with part of the cost as well, by reselling old games, saving up gift monies, etc. My boys understand that there is no way I can afford to purchase those gifts on my own, and if having that one large ticket item is important, everyone needs to pitch in.

    It has worked for us—-and eased the pressure of buy, buy, buying for two generations!

    • christie says:

      Wendi: Great idea! When my boys were little, they would be really excited for a Hot Wheel car that I could buy for $1 or less ! Now! Gaming computers etc … It takes a lot more money to get them excited. I miss that excitement a lot. ~ C

  • Lisa-panaMOM says:

    We spend $0 on presents. It works well for us.

  • Jenn says:

    My mother-in-law always has theme Christmas’ that we decide on the year before such as homemade, second hand, or upcycle. I have all year to plan for it and it usually doesn’t cost me very much at all but it is SO fun! Sometimes we end up giving each other a bunch of funny junk but again, we have so much fun with each other, its not really about what we are getting.

    We do a $25 gift exchange with my family and most of the white- elephant gift exchanges we are in are no cost ones where you have to find something from your house or make something.

    We spend $50 per person on our immediate family of 4. And we too budgeted for the year, including birthday and baby gifts, $36 per month for a total of $432 for the year. We are under budget too for the year and I hope to use our extra to bless someone in need.

  • Denise Ocker says:

    We spend about $200. This year my hubby and I’s gift to each other is some home improvements around the house. My husband has 6 siblings and we do a family gift for each.(homemade, coupon deals etc) My Family we exchange names. We have 2 daughters so we have 4 names. We spend $25 or so. Sometimes we can do it alot less with online deals, coupons etc. For our parents we don’t have a set amount just what we know they want or need.

    Overall, this year we have stayed in the $200 ballpark very easily.

    I know it may fluctuate each year but I feel $200 -$250 is a good range.

  • my 2 cents says:

    Several years ago we talked with our families and scaled down on the adult gifts and now only buy for the kids (neices and nephews) at our family gatherings. Such a savings on getting and receiving gifts we all really don’t need. Now we can focus on the kids. Christmas was always such a wonderful time when I was a child and I want to make sure my children have the same wonderful memories. Including waking up and running in to see a tree surrounded by toys. I would definately check out sales and combine with online coupon codes and cash back to get the most bang for your buck. As your children get older and the toys and gadgets they want become more expensive,you will need to increase your budget. For now you could probably spend around $75-$100 per child if you spend carefully and have a nice assortment of gifts for them.

  • Stephanie says:

    My extended family does an name exchange for children, so if you have 3 children, you pull names for 3 children and the budget is about $20. For adults we do a “give a gift-get a gift” game. We bring a gift wrapped and we play a game and pull gifts, a person can steal your gift, etc. It has become a great tradition epecially since our family has grown so much. No one could afford to buy for every niece, nephew and cousin.

    For my household we probably spend $50-100 on children (we only have one), spouse and parents.

  • nancy says:

    The best received gifts that I have given are homemade gift baskets. I find wonderful baskets for dollar or two, at Goodwill, and fill them with a “theme”. Family fun night baskets will have a DVD purchased for about $5.00, theater boxes of candy, ($1.00 each) bags of microwave popcorn, Goodwill mugs, with packets of hot chocolate tucked inside.
    Or you can purchase a game on sale, and use that instead of the DVD.
    This year I did a “Homemade Christmas” theme. I put lots of homemade items, including jelly, and jam, homemade applesauce, apple butter, etc. I put in a big, beautiful jar of cookie mix ( recipe from Dec. Family Circle magazine), a jar of hot chocolate mix, and tucked in a couple homemade ornaments, and a dish towel that said,”Homemade with Love” inside. A big bow on the handle makes it pretty. The baskets are large and hold a lot. It is a very nice gift. Use your imagination and come up with your own themes.

  • Amanda says:

    In the past we have done a Secret Santa exchange with family members on both my side of the family and my husband’s side of the family, but a lot of little ones have arrived over the past two years (with four more on the way!), so this year both sides of the family ended up suggesting just focusing on buying gifts for the kids. This makes things much easier, budget wise! I think that I will also make some yummy baked goods to give to our siblings/their famililes, grandparents, etc on Christmas Day.

    My brothers & their wives and my husband & I always split the cost of buying gifts for my Mom & Step-Dad. This allows us to give them something really nice (even though they always tell us not to buy them anything!) without having to each spend a lot of $ out of pocket. I am hoping that the buy 1, get 2 free photo book deal from Snapfish comes back in the next week or so; I made photobooks last year with pics of our now 18 month old son, and all three sets of grandparents loved them! If I can find that deal again these will be gifts from my son to his grandparents.

    I found a lot of amazing online deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, which allowed me to purchase wonderful, quality gifts for my son and 5 nieces/nephews without spending much out of pocket. My son is also getting a climber/slide that my husband is picking up this evening- it retails for $160 (which we would never pay), but I found one in perfect condition on Craigslist for $20!

    All said, I am about 95% done Christmas shopping, and I have spent about $165. The photobooks will add another $30, and I plan to spend another $10 on stocking stuffers for my son. That is just under $210 for 9 people, which is lower than our holiday budget this year :). If I end up giving homemade food gifts that will probably add another $15-$20 to my budget)

    If you are creative, and watch for the great deals posted on this site, I’m sure that you can buy gifts for you entire family for under well under $250.

  • Mary Sunshine says:

    I love reading all the responses to this question! For us, it varies from year to year, but here is the basic budget:

    On my husband’s side of the family, we buy gifts for his cousins’ kids ($5 each at Five Below–That store is a great place to buy gifts for kids!) and my mom-in-law (who is a widow, and my husband is an only child–so we do tend to spend a bit more on her. This year we’re taking her out to her favorite restaurant, which will probably cost $120).

    On my side of the family, we buy for my brother and his wife ($10 each), 2 nephews ($5 each), and my parents ($50 range).

    We have 4-year-old twin boys. This year we spent a total of $240 on them for Christmas AND birthday gifts combined (since their birthday is in February, we always buy the gifts all at once). My husband and I spend about $50 for each other.

    We also budget $100 for our annual “gift for Jesus” from the World Vision catalog. The boys get to choose which animals they’d like to give to help kids in need. And I also budget $50 for Christmas cards/postage; I know a lot of people have stopped doing cards, but I enjoy getting and sending them.

    I use Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks–and the money I make selling items on ebay–to put towards our gift budget. I also shop at thrift stores, yard sales, and on ebay to find gifts for less-than-retail prices. And I am not above re-gifting if I think someone else will like the item. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Here is what our families do that I LOVE!
    With my family: we have a $5 limit per person. Everyone agrees on it and we all keep an eye out all year for clearance items or handmake items. We all enjoy it and it’s a fun challenge to see what we can get that a family member would enjoy for that price. And, with my sistet’s family we put their $5 gifts together to make a family gift. They get a movie they want and some goodies for a family movie night.
    With my huband’s family: we buy gifts for kids only. In lieu of buying adults gifts, we take te amount we would have spent and all give to a charity together. It still is spending money, but gives us much more purpose and peace to the season.
    All that being said, our budget ends up being: $60 for charity, $80 for nephews and nieces (total), $100 each for our kids, $50 each for each other, $45 on my side of the family for a grand total of $485.

    • Realistically over it! says:

      A similar question appeared last year on this blog to and I didn’t post anything then but I feel the need to post now. A more realistic question is how much can you afford for Christmas and what do you want to spend? That is a personal individual question and a lot of times the answer has little to do with money. These post seem more like comparing what people send and then either feeling good or bad about how much you spend based on everyone’s responses.
      I think a lot of time Christmas becomes more of I spent $25 on you now you spend $25 on me.
      What is important to you this Christmas? Are you stressed over buying people gifts? Is it more about outdoing someone else or making sure everyone is equal? Do you feel pressured or are you putting pressure on someone else to buy a gift when they really truly can’t afford it?
      Every person is different and likes different things so each amount can be different. I picked up 6 boxes of Kre -0(a lego ripoff that is exactly like them) for $1.62 for all 6 and they are gifts for my nephews. They love legos and I don’t feel the need to keep buying til I reach whatever I am spending on my teenage niece.
      I don’t know about anyone else but I get overwhelmed with the STUFF (especially toy stuff) in my home and Christmas just adds stress into that by my children getting more stuff they don’t need or care to play with for that long. I think asking grandparents and extended family to go in and get all the kids one larger or smaller (depending on their budget) is a great idea to minimize stuff.
      This year we are getting our 4 children an outdoor playgound area and everyone is chipping in to buy stuff to furnish their new play area. Best of all my house will not be crowded with more toys :).
      Christmas isn’t about getting stuff or even giving stuff (especially when giving means stress because you can’t afford what others are spending.) Give to others who are truly in need, go in as a family and sponsor a child, send a box to missionaries, cook and serve as a family a meal for your community fire department together as a whole family, buy a cow or a Jesus well. We live in a gimme society and we have reached a season of entitlement in America. Lets not teach that to our children, If you want to give a gift or 5 gifts give them because you enjoy it and that is what God wants you to do with your money. Maybe just maybe this year people won’t have to wade so far through our commercial Christmas to find the true meaning of Christmas. For unto us a child is born, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

  • Sheris says:

    My family’s rule has long been $50 a person.

    • august says:

      Your children are the most important. Luckily they’re still young so you don’t have to spend a bunch. We have a 3 year old and I like to keep it $100 or less, but I’ll spend more if I know it’s something he needs. For example, we paid $500 at his birthday, but that was because he was ready for a big boy bed (we bought a full size so we won’t have to buy again for several years), plus new bedding, and a new bed frame.

      Our immediate family (parents and step parents) equals out to 7 people and those are usually homemade or free (free photobooks from Shutterfly or pictures of the fam). Our other immediate family (siblings) are two extremes -some are in their 30’s and some are under 10. For the younger ones, I limit it to $15 each. I buy all kinds of games on clearance in January and Feb and then clearance name brand clothes out of season. For the adults we do Secret Santa so we only spend $20 for two people.

      This Christmas we’ve spent around $100 on our son, but it’s ranged from big to small items (chalkboard wall, headboard, bookshelf, robe, and toys). We spent around $30 between our parents, and I spent around $60 for my siblings. That puts us at under $200 for a BUNCH of people.

  • Jenni says:

    If we had money, I think $50-75 per child who can appreciate the gifts would be good. As far as other family members go, we generally don’t give things because everyone else has everything under the sun and doesn’t need anything (and they live far away, so baking things doesn’t work well either). If they were close by I would probably make homemade lemon curd or cranberry curd and a package of frozen crepes or scones, some tea bags bought on sale and maybe some vintage tea cups from a thrift shop in a basket w/handmade cloth napkins.

    • donna says:

      We do a game exchange with both sides of the family so that helps cut down on expenses.

      We do purchase for all the grandparents $75-100 a couple

      Staying within a tight budget is much easier for young children than teenagers…I don’t believe in buying me kids “needs” for Christmas…that is my job, not their gift…..I am the mother of 2 teenagers…and I do like to “spoil” them at Christmas…I don’t buy too much for them the rest of the year other than Birthdays. I was the kid whos parents didn’t buy much for me for Christmas and it stunk…

      • michelle says:

        I agree with you – we don’t buy our kids needs for Christmas either. This year my 18 month old is getting a train table (I found one on sale in October that came with the tracks and 3 trains), a musical instrument set, a play tent/tunnel that I bought at CVS with extra bucks, a puzzle, and a Cars aquadoodle I bought on clearance this summer for $2. Altogether we are spending about $160 on him, plus his stocking which will be about $30. My 5 year old, she is getting a Barbie dollhouse and an American girl doll plus one outfit. And I am making her some more doll clothes, a rag quilt, and a felt food set. We are spending about $400 on her plus her stocking. When they are little I like to buy bigger presents that will grow with them throughout the year — while my son will like the train table now, I know it is something that his interest will grow in throughout the year.

  • Bethany M says:

    $400-$500 is just a thought. I usually buy throughout the year so it’s not a hardship in Nov. and Dec.

  • valeri j. says:

    With my inlaws all of the adults draw names. Every family buys for the kids. I just think as adults you shouldn’t need to have a gajillion gifts; one nice and thoughtful gift should do the trick. Cuts way back on the Christmas budget and possibly opens up other opportunities for fun for just your family. Good luck!

  • Teri says:

    I read that the typical American family spends between $800-900 on Christmas, just as a starting point. ( Obviously some will spend way above that and others will spend way less.

    My husband and I spend $100 on each other. For my family, we spend $60/adult (4 adults) and $25/kids (2 kids). For his family, we swap names and have a $25 limit. For close friends, we spend $25 per person or couple, depending on the situation. Our budgeted amount is around $800, but we’re going to come under that this year.

    One thing we’ve done that’s been helpful is to save all year long for Christmas. We put aside $80/month, so come October, it’s time to start shopping!

  • Becky A says:

    When money was tight for us we decided to make baskets of things that they needed and could use. I did this from free or very cheap items from couponing. I tried to give them items that were their favorites. It really depended on the person as to what they got. My brother in law who was 21 and just on his own got a lot of food and personal care products. Everyone loved them so much that they begged for them the next year! We also did baked goods one year and everyone loved them as well. I felt like we were giving big and I barely spent anything so it was really fun! Good luck!

  • Natalie says:

    In the past we’ve budgeted $25 for each member of our family (we have three kids under 5), as well as $10 for stockings, $10 for filling the advent calendar. Then we aim for $10 for each of our siblings and parents (10 of them). Usually we go over a little bit but this gives us a total of $250 to aim for.

    I was really hoping to increase the budget a bit this year as the kids get a little bigger and into more expensive things like Lego blocks and have asked for specific Imaginext toys, and especially since we do not usually buy toys besides Christmas and birthdays. Unfortunately our transmission just went out, so it looks like this will not be the Christmas we increase the budget. I’m getting more creative though and have located the $40 Imaginext ship my 4yo wants for $8 on Craigslist. 🙂

    • Katie says:

      We budget $600 for our family of 5, two little cousins, plus we draw two names on my side of the family, plus our 4 parents and one grandparent. We usually have family photos taken and those are a big part of the parent/grandparent gift. Whichever side of the family we’re spending Christmas with gets a basket of handmade food gifts. I try to roll extra baking supplies into our groceries in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

      The trickiest part for me is remembering to include postage! Planning ahead, having online gifts shipped directly to the recipient and then wrapped by the recipient’s spouse or parent, and emailing our Christmas cards to everyone except grandparents, all help.

      I make ornaments with stuff I have on-hand for any last-minue gift-giving or swaps that ALWAYS seem to come up in December. Crocheted snowflake ornaments are my go-to. I think a package of homemade cards & envelopes would make a lovely gift as well. I keep a closet drawer with toy freebies or nearly-freebies for stocking stuffers, church donations, etc. that come up this time of year.

  • Erin says:

    We spend about $30 on each of our siblings, $50-75 on each parent, and $100 on each of our kids.

  • Lorie Chance says:

    We are doing simple gifts this year. Our budget for 18 people is $200, but I think we may make it under $150 since we have used several coupons and leftover gift cards.
    Moms get photo calendars of our children. $15 each. Walgreens has great deals every week.
    Dads get specialty home made grill rubs. $9 for set of 3. Bed Bath and Beyond has containers for $1. Use their $5 off coupon and you get them free.
    Siblings get a gift for under $10.
    My husband, I and the kids each have a max budget of $25 for gifts for ourselves.
    Some of my girlfriends are getting NYC nail polish sets. Each bottle of polish is $1.

    • Lorie Chance says:

      For all the girls in my bible study we are doing a secret santa love letter exchange. We each draw names and write a loving letter to the person we picked. It’s the perfect thoughtful thing to give in case we get the winter blues!

      For another girl group of mine we are doing an accessory exchange. We each sift through our own possessions and find something to give away during a white elephant type of game. I’m going to bring one of my necklaces this year. I can’t wait to see what new thing I inherit!

  • Christine says:

    My 5 kids know that they get only 3 gifts from us on Christmas. We started this 4 years ago and I LOVE IT!!!!!! GOLD – something they really want, FRANKINCENSE – something related to a talent of theirs and MYRRH – something religious. (Santa always brings one gift for each chld or something for them to all share.) The amount varies ($40-$60 per child) and I always seem to spend more than I plan but it is still so much better than several years ago when we bought many more gifts.
    For other family members, we draw names or do gift swaps to keep costs down.

    • aricka says:

      I wouldn’t worry to much about the amount of gifts or money spent. I’m 33 years old and looking back on my childhood I seriously can only remember 3 presents I got. My favorite my care bear Love a Lot, a sweater dress, and then strangely one of my favorties was a plastic charm necklace my aunt got me when they were really popular. It was probably the cheapest gift but I loved it the most, but it was something my “wealthy” parents would never buy me because it was a waste of money. Junk… ect. My son is 4 yrs old and gets a variety of things but the things he always defaults to playing with when the $1 matchbox cars. But what ever you decide I wish you luck and pray that God blesses you and your family. I know he will provide for all your needs.

  • Hillery Potter says:

    We have had years where we spent $300 on the kids and giving gifts to extended family and friends. It was by God’s grace and coupons that the money stretched that far! And everyone was happy with what they received.

    This year we have four kids, plus us, my daughters birthday, and my birthday in December, our family exchange gifts, and gifts for family that live far away.

    Our budget is $100 per immediate family member. I am currently under budget on two kids because of toys that the babies will be “sharing.” Budget for my daughters birthday is $30 for gifts, met that. For family gifts, $20 each. For family far away and friends nearby, I make candy and food mixes. It usually ends up being about $5-$7 a piece. Then we pay flatrate shipping, usually $11 each for 3 boxes.

    All together this makes for a budget of $800.

    For my kids presents the older kids are getting: clothes, pajamas, a “large” toy or wanted item, books. The babies are getting a nice toy to share, books, dress up clothes.

    Even though I have a larger budget this year, I still shop the deals. My oldest daughter and husband are getting used ipod nanos (2nd gen) off of ebay. My oldest asked for an ipod, I told her upfront we could not get a new one in our budget, she was okay with that, and is used to buying things used at consignment stores.

    The books I bought the kids I got used on for pennies, literal pennies. All the clothes were black Friday specials.

    I would say I have saved an average of 50% on everything I have bought. No matterr your budget, be a good steward. When we had very little I would pray over our money, pray for what we needed or even wanted for Christmas. God rewarded me and guided me every single time!

    My family actually sees our budget as small. When looking at black Friday ads together, I was told that I should get my daughter a Kindle Fire for Christmas instead of a used ipod. They felt that this was an appropriate expenditure. For us, it is not.

    Our “splurge” this year was my husband’s gift to me. He saved his work checks when he had good weeks, and bought me something I had onnly dreamed of…a pottery wheel. This will be my gift for everything for at least a year! This was not over budget, just kind of outside of the budget, but still paid for with cash.

  • abageal says:

    We have 2 children, 2+6 and always keep a small budget. We do 3 gifts each and we do that because Jesus recieved 3 on that day and we explain that too our children also. I will also buy gifts second hand which I know many dont agree with but what we buy is usually what they want and in great shape. My oldest who understands everything is always thrilled with what she gets and is never overwhelmed by too much. As far as family I always take a nice pic of my girls and stick it in one of those clear frames you stick on the fridge with a nice note tellin about the girls year. It always seems to be appreciated.

  • Jessica says:

    When my kids were really little, like 2 like yours, I bought most of their gifts at the kids consignment store. They have no concept of packaging. I filled my daughters sticking with loose Duplo Legos and Little People. It saved me a ton. Also some people don’t wrap Santa presents, I would even consider (in retrospect) maybe not even having them in a package and continuing to buy stuff off craigslist, consignment, etc..

  • Koree says:

    I plan on getting each of my 3 siblings a nice bottle of wine or a 6 pack of artisan beers. My parents gifts were between 20-40 $ each. Intend to spend more on the bf. Also will buy for two aunts and a teacher friend. All told I will probably be spending about $200-250 for 9 people. Don’t send out any cards except the ones I got free off recently….My close friends and I don’t swap gifts.

  • Corey Lesko says:

    I don’t know if you have any college kids in your immediate family but one side of my family had all of us in college pretty close to the same time so what they did was great: two of my aunts put their money together and gave us a gift card to
    Amazon or college book store to buy next semester books (even if it was only $10 it was
    Great!) my other aunt instead of buying of Christmas gifts would send us a card on all the
    “little holidays” as she called them (valentines, st Patrick’s, halloween) with 3-5 in it for a cup of “real coffee” aka Starbucks it was the best gift ever! Especially for us who had no money in college to get to feel spoiled. It was a great alternative to
    A Christmas gift!

  • Felicia Adkins says:

    I normally try to budget $10 for everyone else except my kids. Then I buy accordiningly. Hubby and I don’t exchange gifts since having kids. We’d rather spend it on them.

  • jessica says:

    The hardest thing I have is, gift giving for my parents. Whether it is father’s day, birthday, or xmas, I feel obligated to spend a large amount on my Father.

    Ideally, I would spend $20 or less on Father’s day, I think that should be a meal and activity, spend time with or do something for. and like maybe $50 for birthday max.

    Unfortunately, nearly eveything my Father asks for is always expensive, usually $100-300. Tech-y things for his hobbies. And some years my Mother’s list can also have a range into expensive.

    Ideally I would think $50 for each parent and my sister is ideal for her and my budget, but we feel obligated to spend more. Our parents provided for us while growing up. They paid for our college, and they allowed us to live at home (with chores) during school breaks and early on in our careers (we graduated during the recession; get a job period was difficult. the first thing to hire me was retail with less than part time hours, and another 6 months before I got a decent full time job). Once we were working, even during school, we felt the need to give decent gift, and often we feel it is expected from our father (though this could be perception).

    Last year was a costly xmas. Thankfully I use mypoints and such mixed with coupons, so I knocked out brand new towel sets for my mother, what would have cost $50. Everyone got a $10 gift card treat to spend on themselves.

    This year, I put a $100 limit on everyone, and told my sister (so she wouldn’t feel caught off gaurd). I also told my mother Iwould like a small xmas (no stockings too) because we all have small lists. But even $100 seems high. it’s my immediate family, $300! I love them, and like to treat them, but I would prefer to go to $50 one year. Luckily, I got $50 in gift cards again this year; by giving two $25 gift cards (gift card was on list), I can put two down to $75. But it’s hard. I am SO grateful for my family. My mother helps me out all the time, from secretarial help, advice and help to a me a-new-home-owner, letting me talk out my stress, I don’t know what I would do without her. My sister has helped me out a bit this year with work travel. and my parents provided me with college!

  • Mary says:

    Our family Christmas budget for 2012:
    $100 for my husband’s gift(s)
    $100 for him to buy my gift(s)
    $50 for our 18 month old son. (and I’m not convinced that we’ll use that whole amount…)
    $15 for each of my husband’s 3 siblings (if siblings are married, we get a $15 family gift for them) and both of his parents
    $5 each for the 5 nieces/nephews
    $15 for my boss
    $15 for a few couple friends of ours
    $0 for my family (we no longer exchange Christmas gifts. I buy them a larger birthday gift instead.)
    Total: $395

  • Sarah says:

    You can spend very little with kids that young and you’ll be glad you scaled back at this young of an age so they don’t expect a ton of stuff for future Christmases. For other family members consider homemade food gifts like fudge, spicy mixed nuts, cookie mixes in a jar, hot cocoa mix, etc. They’re gifts people will actually use and you can buy the ingredients in bulk!

  • kathy says:

    Tara, I would say a realistic budget is what you. Can afford without going into debt. Rather than trying to come up with amounts for each person, first come up with a total amount you can spend. Then do the division based on that. “Realistic ” will be different for every family. One suggestion for some nice inexpensive gifts for extended family : magazine subscription. If you keep an eye on the blogs you can get some free or pretty cheap. Also you can pick a few magazines you are interested in, call and ask for their lowest may be surprised. So far this year I have received the following magazines freewe do ( 1yr..subscription ): Everyday cooking with Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart Living, Field And Stream, Better. Homes and Gardens, Taste of Home,.For coke rewards points I receive All you. I receive Family Circle.for $4.99 a year. I haven’t read all the posts but others have shared some good ideas as well. In our home we do Christmas maybe a little differently for my husband and myself. We often give each other a larger gift because we do not buy many

    • Carlee says:

      We started a tradition when our youngest was 1 (other two kids were 3 and 6). We take each child on a date, just that child and both parents. We talk about the past year, make goals or wishes for the next year, and enjoy each others’ company. Then we give each kid $20 per sibling (so $40 to each kid, $120 total) and they put in $10 of their own money for each sibling. We go shopping for the other 2 kids. It is amazing to watch our kids buy gifts for each other. The first year was funny, but now they watch and pay attention to what the other ones want. We do not buy any other gifts for our kids! We get the gift of time with them, one on one, and they LOVE to give and receive from their siblings. They start to ask for their shopping dates around Halloween :o)

    • kathy says:

      ” wants ” during the year. Rarely do we splurge on anything that is not a need during the course of the Christmas is our time to receive something we may have been wanting for a long time. Bottom Line : Give what you can afford .. A gift given with love is priceless. Stress over Christmas can easily happen when money is tight. Choose not to let it : keep Christ, the real meaning of Christmas in your home and enjoy your blessings and what you can give.

  • Jennifer Schmerer says:

    If anyone else is like me, I need a budget AND a spending plan. I think everyone’s budget is subjective to their income, but I’ve found that whenever I’ve said, “x amount per child” I usually overbuy just because I’m trying to meet that dollar amount or I have to buy an even number of gifts for the kids. Last year I tried to do three gifts (Jesus got three gifts, so three gifts are good for us too), but then we added Santa on top of that and all the little stuff didn’t seem like it should count and it still exploded into too much! This year, a friend told me a cute spending plan and I am done and very happy with what we bought:

    4 gifts:
    -Something you want
    -Something you need
    -Something to wear
    -Something to read

    This really helped me focus my spending for each child and make sure that what I was buying mattered enough to be one of the four. For their need gift, we got things that they needed that were not every day purchases (suits for church for two and scriptures for one). Their something to wear is the pj’s I get on sale Black Friday every year. Santa is bringing socks/underwear and the coin banks that they asked for (that were $5 on sale at Kohl’s) cause Mom and Dad want the credit for the cool gifts!

  • kathy says:

    Continued post :” wants ” during the year. So Christmas is our time to give each other a special “wa3nt “. That being said we keep it in the range we can afford. Also we only have
    3 other family members to buy for+ 2 extended family. For the. Friends we all play dirty santa at the Christmas party and.we are responsible for 2 gifts. I put together 2 gifts consisting of a copy of taste of Home magazine, a free subscription, a westbend wooden spoon, King Arthur dough scraper, a jar gripper. Heavy duty clip magnet. In other words a kitchen gift for $2 each! God Bless.and do what you can and enjoy doing it. As long aas a gift is given in love it is priceless. Merry Christmas!

  • Diane says:

    One thing we did when our kids were young that I don’t see mentioned here is actually wrap “hand-me-down” toys from older siblings that had been put away for awhile. Money was very tight, and the older kids sometimes didn’t even remember the toys (depending on age). Sometimes I would include the older child to wrap the gift from him to baby brother, so he didn’t blurt out, “Hey, that’s mine!” on Christmas. 😉

    • Sandy says:

      When my husband & I got married 15 years ago, we were the last in his family to have kids, his next oldest sister is 7 years older than him, and we were the first to have kids in my family. So in his family they gave our kids gifts at the time we only had 2. By the time my siblings started having kids, we had moved 1,800 miles away. So we sort of lucked out on the whole gift exchange thing. But what I can say that as a mother of 8 kids ages 14, 13, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3 and 2 Christmas is a very hard time for me. My budget for the older kids is:

      14 yr old girl $250
      13 yr old boy $250
      10 yr old boy $200
      8 yr old girl $150
      6 yr old girl $100
      5 yr old boy $50
      3 yr old boy $50
      2 yr old girl $30

      **I also have 3 Birthdays in December, the 8th, 15, and 30th BLAH! LOL

      Since the older my kids get the more expensive thier presents are. I have explained that to them and they understand, that while the younger kids will still be opening presents on Christmas morning, they will have 1 or 2 gifts to open.

      I do a ton of my shopping on black friday to get the best deals. I also save up my CVS bucks, my WAGS points, and any gift cards I recieve throughout the year. As of right now I have $35 at WAGS
      $25 CVS bucks
      $40 Target gift Cards
      $40 in Itunes gift cards(cashed in on old reward points from 2 years ago)
      $50 Frys Food Card (they have toys and electronics) Got this card when I replaced my windshield earlier in the year
      $5 Starbucks card

      I will use most of these for the little kids which will cover the 5, 3 and 2 year olds.

      I will be giving teacher gifts this year, its something I found on pineterest. Go to the dollar store and buy a hard plastic Christmas plate and bowl, flip the bowl upside down and glue it to the plate, buy Holiday Oreos, a cheap mug fill with hot cocoa and a pepermint stick. Wrap the whole thing up and you have a $5.00 teacher gift. Who doesn’t love Oreo Cookies!

      • Sandy says:

        Oh I forgot to mention as soon as we started having kids, my husband and I stopped giving each other gifts. (Well I can’t resist, he still gets something for Christmas, even if its just a couple of new clearence t-shirts) lol, and I bought myself (from my husband) a pair of ameythest earrings that were only $10 at Kohls on black friday, I had to get my total up to $50 or have to pay the $7 in shipping, I was $5 short of my $50 total.

  • MrsWJAA says:

    For us, if we don’t do homemade (which we don’t have time for this year as we are renovating our home ourselves), we generally give gift cards or gifts we find on sale / used.. Our limit this year was $10 per couple, or $5 per individual. If our own child was of an age to recieve gifts (this one is still baking, lol) we would have a limit of $20 for each child..

    So, using our budget, it would be reasonable to set aside around $80.

    • Traci C says:

      One thing that I try to do every year before Christmas is get the kids picture taken together at JC Penney. This year the package was $8 plus $18 sitting for 2 kids. It came with enough pics for the Grandparents and Great Grandparents. The frames I picked up at the dollar store. These are gifts I know they cherish and don’t break the bank. Also there are so many free 8×10’s during the year at Walgreens, these make wonderful gifts by blowing up favorite pics.

  • Samantha says:

    We don’t really have a lot to spend this year but we have a pretty good break down of how we spend it.
    Parents(2 sets)- $30 each
    Married siblings with no kids- $20
    Nephew (we don’t buy for siblings when they have kids, just the kiddos and the gifts are “from” my children) $30 (this year, next year will probably be split between the two of them since she is due in a few months)
    Daughter-$100, it’s her last year as an only child, i’m gonna spoil her a bit =]
    Hubby- $80
    Self- $0
    Normally we don’t buy for each other, but I found something he wants and it actually benefits our entire family so i’m okay with that =]

    Nana/Gigi- $20 combined (they live far away so we normally get a nice family pictures printed out, for free!, and framed and sent up to them =])
    $310 ish

  • Sandra says:

    I don’t know how to help you set your budget – it all really depends on what your available cash is. However, I can help you, hopefully with the spending. My two kids have birthdays this week – Daughter is 6 tomorrow, son is 8 next Thursday. So we have birthday presents before Christmas to deal with as well. Prior years, when the kids were really young (as yours still are), we bought them token gifts – more for them to open something. We bought books, coloring/craft items etc… cheap things we could get at the Dollar store – as they have grandparents, aunts/uncles who buy. We would then put money into savings accounts for the kids for their futures. The kids don’t have any idea, they can’t remember who gave them which gift etc… And the gifts break. The money is in the bank. This year the kids are asking for Legos, so we will probably get them each a set and then small items.

    Also – in my family we no longer get gifts for the adults – we will do a white elephant exchange with a theme chosen (ie: buy at the dollar store, animal inspired) and a $10 limit. In addition, due to the economy and some family member situations, we draw names for the 10 nieces and nephews instead of everyone buying a gift for all the kids ($25 max). Each kids name is in the hat twice – so they get two gifts to open in front of the whole family rather than a gift from each aunt/uncle. There is less chaos in the house too.

    I wish you well in striving to control you Christmas spending and send blessings to you for the New Year.

  • Our Christmas budget for presents is:
    Husband and I – $50 each
    Child – $30
    Parents and Siblings – $20 each
    Grandparents – $10
    Cousin White Elephant Exchange – $5
    And I make cookies every year and give a plate to any neighbors/friends/etc that I want to give something to.

  • Emily H says:

    Well the last two years I gave “baskets” of my stockpile items at Christmas to extended family members. The price of the pre-made ones at the store are outragous. This year I thought doing this again may be repeatitive and those may not enjoy it. Unitl I had several family members at Thanksgiving ask for them again. I fill them with items they can use from beauty supplies to household cleaners depending on the person/family. I may even throw in a few little items I picked up during the year on sale. I place the items in either baskets, plastic tubs or gift bags I picked up on sale. Many of my family members have been on hard times the last few years this gift also helps out their budgets. This gift also works for teenagers as I would in the past pick up one of the pre-made baskets.

  • Sherri says:

    OH, how I wish my family would get on the drawing names bandwagon! I suggested it a few years ago, and we tried it once, and I thought it worked well. Then the next year we were back to normal- and the one who pushed for that is probably the one who can afford it the least!

  • Christine says:

    I find that I need to budget for more than gifts. Christmas cards, for example, including postage. We host Christmas Eve dinner for the extended dinner, and even though I cook everything from scratch that is still an expense, with a nice main course, wine, etc. Then there are monetary gifts for teachers (all the parents chip in) and that sort of thing. For our three kids I have never spent a ton of money because they get so much from other relatives, it can be overwhelming. However, this year I really wanted to get my 8 year old, who has had some medical difficulties, a wii, and was blessed to find one new in the box (but second hand) for $40! I have saved $750 throughout the year through Smarty Pig, and it has to cover all these things. Like Crystal, I don’t start Christmas prep until December 1st.

  • Christine says:

    oops – I meant “Christmas Eve dinner for the extended family!”

  • Amy says:

    I know this isn’t really answering the readers questions- but I’m looking at the bigger picture here… and I think Dave Ramsey has said the same thing. Christmas comes every year- it’s should be no surprise or shock to the budget. If you want to spend money on gifts, budget for it! We do have a bundget- apparently a bit more generous than those commenting here- although not crazy, at least in my mind. But we save every month for it in one of our envelopes, including a buffer for extra food expense and certain holiday tradition/expenses we always seem to have(ex: shoe boxes, donations, craft shows, christmas lights.. whatever.) But that way we don’t have to spend outside of that envelope even sometimes we shuffle the budget to allow indugences- but always within the budget. So this year that might not be an option but certainly for next year it can be. Our budget is more around $35 per person and $75 per kid.

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