We all know the true meaning of Christmas is not sold in stores, but that doesn’t stop us from getting a little curious as to what goes on financially, in the homes of others, behind the holly jolly holiday curtain.
With all of the hustle and bustle of holiday spending, it’s easy to find yourself wondering about how your sometimes frugal budget stacks up against those of your neighbors, peers, and friends.
While the main contributing factors to a family’s Christmas budget can include anything from overall income to personal preference, leaving considerable room for variation, a recent Gallup poll suggests that the average American plans to cap their Christmas budget for the year at $885.
With a little holiday sleuthing and a Peppermint Latte in tow, our researchers found that according to US census data, the average American family had just under 2 children. Which when divided by 2 comes out to a total of $442.50 per child.
While these numbers may be useful for finding overall social spending trends, on their own they do very little to help us picture the actual averages for parents looking to set up a lovely Christmas for their little ones, leaving many parents with the lingering question of just how much you should be spending on your children for Christmas each year.
This Is How Much the Average Parent Spends on Christmas
In general, the amount you spend on your little ones will depend on their age, your financial situation, and what you are looking to get them for the holiday, with some gifts having a greater impact on specific age ranges.
0 – 12 Months Old – At such a young age, your little one won’t be forming many memories of the Christmas season, so resist your instincts to go all out.
Focus on items that you need in order to help them through their day, like clothing, decor, and small toys and games.
Steer clear of electronics or easily broken items. Keep your budget under $75 at this age range.
Little Tip: Make sure that there are at least a few pieces that your little can unwrap on Christmas day to help them get in on the morning fun.
1 – 4 Years Old – At this age, your baby is going to start getting more in the Christmas spirit.
Now’s the perfect moment to make a few long-lasting memories. Small and inexpensive items are the key during this time, with stocking stuffers, in particular, being a favorite.
You’ll still want to make sure that you’re avoiding anything that could easily get broken, and gifts with more sentimental value more than likely won’t see full appreciation at this age.
Little Tip: Toys and distractions that won’t involve your direct interaction, like durable electronics, or early picture books are the perfect options for this stage in life and will give you a welcome respite from those toddler tantrums.
4 – 9 Years Old – As your child grows out of their toddler years, you can shift focus, and raise your budget a little to start providing gifts with a little more substance.
A budget of $150 to $200 is more appropriate depending on your child’s current level of development, and interests.
Aim for gifts that are fun, but with practical value, like books, light electronics (depending on the child in question), and some games that require critical thinking.
Little Tip: At this age, your little one may begin to display interests in specific subjects like computers, math, or art. Opting for a gift that caters to those interests can turn a temporary obsession into a lifelong love.
9 – 14 Years Old – By the time your baby starts to enter their early teen years, their interests and wants will have shifted considerably.
For the first time, they will begin to see the value in sentimental gifts as well as material gifts, opening the door to items that they can carry later into life, as well as pieces that are more expensive and/or vulnerable to damage.
An expanded budget of $200 – $300 during this time will give you the leeway to start providing some items that can really affect their learning and development, especially where their hobbies are concerned.
Little Tip: At this age range, while many classic cartoons and movies may show kids bemoaning the gift of clothes, clothing that fits with their current personal style will be appreciated, and show that you are paying close attention to them.
14 – 18 Years Old – Through the mid to late teen years, your children will show far greater appreciation for thoughtful gifts, than they have before.
Here you can finally get to the top of your budgetary wish list that they will appreciate with a more adult eye.
Breakables and fragile items will see a far greater chance of survival than they did in your little’s youth, and gifts like bonds, college funds, and advanced learning tools can help both of you keep your eyes on the future.
Little Tip: By this age, aside from material gifts, your little ones may also appreciate experiences. You can replace the traditional Chrismas gift exchange with a family vacation, or a more personal trip for them to help make some unforgettable memories of their own.
At the end of the day, no matter how much your family spends, remember that the memories you make gathered around the tree will last far longer, and have a far greater impact than any toy or bauble possibly could.