How Much to Spend Per Child At Christmas

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how much per child

Have you ever wondered how much to spend per child at Christmas? How much is “too much?” Is there an amount that’s considered “not enough?”

Fortunately, there are several factors you can evaluate to find the right answer for your particular situation.

How Much The Average Person Spends Per Child

A recent poll found that Americans plan on spending an average of $276 per child on Christmas gifts this year.

Other miscellaneous studies found that parents plan on spending $75 to $300 per child this holiday season.

The good news about the information you’ll find online is that it gives you a wide range of higher and lower “average” budget ideas for Christmas gifts for your kids.

Finding the Right Gift Budget for Each Child

It’s important to determine the right gift budget for each child before you start shopping. Every family has different parameters they should use as they decide the right Christmas budget for their children. 

Here are some tips you can use as you decide how much to spend per child at Christmas. 

1. Establish Your Overall Budget

The first step you can take when helping determine a per-kid Christmas budget is to decide how much you want to spend overall on holiday giving for all of the gift recipients in your life.

Sticking to specified budget percentages to find that number may help. You can follow these three steps in order to establish your overall Christmas spending budget. 

Start by listing your expected holiday expenses. Holiday spending doesn’t just include Christmas gifts for your kids. Remember to create your list of expected expenses and include line items for other applicable expenses.

These can include:

  • Gifts for your partner
  • Any gifts you give to other family members
  • Gifts for the service providers in your life, like your stylist, trash hauler, etc.
  • Holiday travel expenses
  • Host/hostess gift expenses
  • Food costs
  • Expenses that come with entertaining in your home
  • Costs associated with holiday entertainment
  • Food and other expenses associated with holiday parties you’re invited to
  • Costs for wrapping paper, bags, ribbons, bows and tape
  • Charitable donations
  • Holiday cards and postage
  • Any work-related holiday expenses
  • Holiday decor, including Christmas trees, lights or mistletoe

And so on. Customize your list to include your family’s specific costs based on the many different ways you celebrate the winter holidays. 

2. Consider Your Children’s Ages

Another way to decide how much to spend per child at Christmas is to consider your children’s ages. 

For instance, children under the age of two won’t remember what you bought for them or know if you didn’t buy them very much.

If your budget is tight, consider giving a few small gifts to younger children. Or, you can give your gift in the form of a contribution to a 529 fund to help your child prepare for college expenses.

For example, Upromise has a credit card that gives you dollar contributions toward your child’s college education.

Similarly, adult children who are out of the house and financially secure may not need or want expensive holiday gifts either.

The bottom line is that your child’s age is an important factor to consider as you decide on your holiday budget. 

3. Evaluate Your Children’s Needs

It’s important to take into account your children’s needs. If you’re on a tight budget and your children have needs that require attention, you might choose to “double dip” by buying things they need as gifts.

For example, you could get your kids cute socks. These are practical and fun. 

If you do this, you get the bonus of being able to use some of your budget’s clothing allowance for Christmas gifts, saving you money and providing for your kids’ needs. 

In the event that money is extra tight and you need to spend most or all of your budget on your child’s needs, that’s ok. You can still make it special by wrapping the items and buying products that feature their favorite characters or colors.

It’s important to ensure your child’s basic needs are met before “extras” enter your budget. 

4. Take Into Account Your Family’s Traditions

Considering family traditions as you set your per-child spending amount is important as well. 

Family traditions tend to hold a special place in kids’ hearts, so it can be wise to prioritize those expenditures over other gifts if need be.

For example, you might have a tradition of having your kids bake Christmas cookies with your mom every year. 

Although the ingredients may set you back $75, your children likely relish the day they spend with their grandma making various holiday treats. For that reason, Christmas baking ingredients might be high on your budget’s priority list. 

You might have other family traditions that you choose to put high on your priority list when budgeting. Maybe you see The Nutcracker at a local theater every year. Or you may have special gifts you give each year, such as new pajamas. 

Hold those traditions near as you make your holiday budget. 

Make a Christmas Budgeting Goal

Make it a goal to stick to your holiday budget and ensure that this Christmas remains debt-free and stress-free. Your whole household will feel better knowing you didn’t go into debt to pay for Christmas gifts. 

Plus, your stress level will be much lower when you know you won’t get a large credit card bill in January.

In order to help you stay within your budget and have an enjoyable Christmas, consider giving cheap or free Christmas gifts to your kids.

These can include:

  • A photo board collage using some of your favorite photos of each child
  • An “experience” gift, such as a movie night, baking day or trip to the park
  • A letter to each child telling them what you love about them
  • Printing out free online coloring pages and buying a box of crayons for young kids
  • A mason jar mix gift with the ingredients for their favorite treat
  • Offering adult kids a specified number of free babysitting services

You can search online for other gift ideas that can help you stay within your budget as well. 

Consider using the cash envelope system (or digital cash envelopes with an app like Qube Money) if you have trouble sticking to your budget.


Knowing how much to spend per child at Christmas will help you stay within your budget and stay out of debt this holiday season.

You can even consider working a side hustle to make more money by Christmas.

Keep in mind that your Christmas budget doesn’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, do what’s best for you and your family’s budget to keep Christmas affordable. 

The number or dollar value of gifts you give to your children doesn’t equate to the love you have for them. What’s most important is the time you spend with them and the love that you give them along the way.