How Many Christmas Presents?

Perhaps this year more than ever, I’ve seen numerous posts on social media asking “what is your Christmas budget per child?” or “how many presents do you get your kids?” and of course the standard “what are you getting your (insert age) child for Christmas.” Maybe it’s the abundance of post-Christmas pictures on every social media site that drives us to compare what we plan to get our own kids against what other families are doing. There are a few thoughts on how many presents to gift a child.

4 Present Rule:

Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Often times this gets associated with the minimalist approach, but I have to disagree. What if the something they want is a new phone? Have you seen the cost of a Barbie Dreamhouse? It seems the older the child gets, the more costly their wants and needs are. A new dress for $20 when technically my child has all the clothes and shoes she could need right now. While this may limit the number of presents under the tree on Christmas day, it does not necessarily equate to a lesser cost. Add in multiple children, and there are still plenty of presents under the tree.


Another approach is instead of gifting toys (which many view as additional clutter in the house), gift experiences for the child to create family memories. Ideas often mentioned are memberships to the zoo or the children’s museum or as parents, gift a vacation somewhere. While the idea of gifting an experience to a child is also neat, the cost of this can also quickly accumulate as the memberships have to be purchased for all the children and parents in the family. Realistically, a 7 year old child can’t go to the zoo themselves yet. Or what about a Highlights magazine subscription so the child has their own mail to look forward to? My kids would probably fight over this one magazine. My 4 year old has enough of an understanding of Santa and presents to likely be disappointed by unwrapping sheets of paper detailing future experiences. In my adult years, I have personally been given experience gifts such as a date night with my husband or a theater show to watch at a future date. Perhaps when my kids are a bit older, I can see the appeal to following this idea. And then there is also the responsibility as the parents to bring them to all these gifted experiences.

Buy all the gifts:

I recently saw this viral post about a mother explaining that she plans on buying all the gifts because children only believe in Santa for a few years and she wants to see her child’s face light up on Christmas morning as she marvels at all the gifts under the tree. Last year, this is probably the gifting philosophy I followed. I was excited that I found a bunch of Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles at a resale for my puzzle loving 3 year old and wrapped them all individually. I proudly spent under $100 for both my kids combined and the tree looked like it had a ton of presents. Come Christmas morning, my 1 year old couldn’t have cared less, and my 3 year old was tired of opening presents, she actually didn’t even open them all. Thanks to buying resale, my budget was kept in check, though this can easily get out of hand too.

There is no one philosophy that is better than the other. Each in their own way has the opportunity to have high costs or the opportunity to gift your child exactly what they want this holiday season. It’s a matter of finding a solution that fits your child’s interests and what your family desires. When the social media posts start pouring in, remember it’s okay to be happy for other families and happy for your own family without comparing number of gifts or cost of presents. Most importantly, enjoy spending time with your family this Christmas morning.

Emily Miller
Emily is a dual citizen, residing in Lafayette, Louisiana, yet a temporary visitor in her other residency of Germany. She is a wife of four years and full time working mother to two kids: a 2.5 year old girl (C) and 5 month old boy (H). Having graduated from LSU with her bachelors, she continued her education by getting her Masters in Business Administration from UL. Working in management in retail, her schedule frequently varies and consists of unusual hours, but she embraces that as extra time with her children. While off the clock, Emily pours herself a cup of decaf coffee, plays in a room filled with toddler toys, teaches her children German, and attempts to be a scrunchy Montessori inspired mama with goals of raising independent children.


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