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Kids Christmas Presents. When is Enough, Enough?

Tara Alley

According to Dan Demers, assistant VP at TD Canada Trust, the average Canadian spends $587 on food, gifts and entertainment during the Christmas season (Moneyville.ca).  According to an RBC survey, the cost of Christmas in Canada is approximately $1,137 (this one includes travel).  Across the border, the average American will spend $835 on Christmas, travel not included (Myvestra.org).

Christmas Presents 600x Kids Christmas Presents. When is Enough, Enough?

How about Black Friday?  According to the National Retail Federation (NFR), a new record of shoppers, 226 million, hit stores and online shops over black Friday weekend, spending an average of $400.  All in all, sales added up to $52.4 billion dollars. Most of Black Friday shopping is for our Christmas gifts, right?  Gifts for one day of the year, $52.4 billion dollars.

iStock 000010959416XSmall 300x240 Kids Christmas Presents. When is Enough, Enough?In fact, in an article on Forbes.com back in 2009, it was estimated that skipping Christmas altogether would likely save a family at least $1,000.  That’s gifts, the tree, décor, Christmas cards, flowers, travel, candy, etc.  $1,000!  You could take your family on a decent vacation for that, start a high-interest savings account, and the list goes on.

Instead, credit card debt across North America will soar this month and parents will scramble to find the gift(s) that will light up their children’s faces.  But for how long?  A couple hours?  A few weeks at best? And is that really worth it?  Which leads me to the question, when it comes to buying Christmas gifts for our kids, just “how much” is “too much”?

Contrary to what I’ve started with here, I’m not the grinch of Christmas.  It is, in fact, my very favorite holiday ever and I more or less live 11 months out of the year waiting for December.  However, I grew up in a family where money was always tight.  In spite of that, my parents did everything they could to spoil us with gifts.  In fact, I specifically remember the year that my parents found the money to purchase me a gift that I was sure we couldn’t afford ($82 dollars at the time).  I felt so guilty about the purchase that I didn’t play with it for weeks, thinking that if I kept it like new, we could send it back and get the money back.  In today’s age, it seems that $82 dollars barely meets parents spending on the stocking stuffers, with many parents spending around $300 per child.  And to me, it seems a bit outrageous.  But is it just me?

I did some digging around on a few mom-blog forums to see what others thought.  According to a poll on CafeMom.com from 2008, parents were asked if they spent:

  • 20-60:              11%
  • 60-80:              7%
  • 80-100:            23%
  • 100 or more:    56%

That’s a start, but clearly not shocking.  In the comments, you have a mom asking if it’s a poll just for the stockings, another mom stating they typically spend 400-500 per child, another who says they spend $150 each per child (x 5 children) + stockings, another saying she spends $100 for two, a mom who spends over $500 on one and a mom who spent $1,200 on one child. Overall, of the 41 comments, I would say the majority were in the $200-$400 range.

Looking over other various mom forums, again, the range was from, “We don’t do presents” to, “I just spent $2,500 on my 15 year old daughter and I’m not done.”

Clearly an $82 dollar Christmas gift is not in the average any longer.  But, at $300 dollars per kid, for let’s say 3 kids, we’re already looking at $1,000, not including stockings, generally speaking.  Is that crazy or is it actually legit?

In my mind, it seems crazy, particularly for young kids.  Sure, teen gifts (a new phone, for example) could hit that point fairly easily if you so desired, but to spend $300 on a 4 year old on toys that will literally be exciting for a matter of days, seems mildly absurd (to me).

So then, what do you think?  What is “too much” when it comes your kids and Christmas gifts?  Is there a “too much” Do you have a “too much”?  I’m curious who budgets and who feels there’s no limit when it comes to Christmas at their house.  When do we say enough is enough and stop spending $52.4 billion in a three day time span?  Or is that just the price we pay for a day of wonderful bliss that we really do look forward to all year and cherish the memories it comes with?  You tell me.

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