Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Cost of Christmas

I just clicked on a news article that claimed the average spend on presents per child this Christmas will be about £312. That led to me reading a forum thread on NetMums where they discussed it. Lots of people said they spent less that £312 and plenty admitted they spent that or more each Christmas.

I read the comments for about half an hour and as expected with most internet turned hostile. Parents who spent less judged the ones that spent more and vice versa. It seemed every parent thought that what they spent was the right amount.

And it is, under the right circumstances. Apparently 47% of parents feel pressured to spend more than they can afford. Often leading to credit card/loan debt that has to be paid off for several months after Christmas. As parents the urge is strong to spoil your children and to give them a 'perfect' Christmas whether you can afford to or not. I've occasionally worried we don't spend enough money on our kids at Christmas but who's to say how much is enough. Do you really need to 'spoil' your kids with presents to create happiness.

I have a general feeling that Christmas is too commercial. It's all about presents with adverts urging you to show someone you love them with diamonds, perfume, Ipads etc. If you have teenagers it's more pressure. We're made to feel that teenagers need the latest mobile, laptop or games console to keep up with their friends.

We've always spent the same on presents for Christmas whether we have more or less in the bank than usual. £50 per person for me, JD, Leigh and Erin plus £10-15 per other person we buy for. I feel that by most people's standards we don't spend very much. But with that money we manage to buy 6-7 things for each of the kids and something nice for everyone else. I sometimes make the odd present to keep the cost down and buy in the sales where possible.

I feel the thoughtfulness of the gift is what matters, not the expense of it. Everyone in our family gets presents off everyone else at Christmas time too so over-spending seems unnecessary.

We could afford to spend more but I feel I don't want to. Once you set the bar higher with kids you have to keep the level high or risk disappointment. I'd worry that spending a lot of money on them at Christmas would set them up for a life feeling like they deserve to have a lot of money spent on them. A feeling of entitlement. I want my kids to feel grateful for what they get instead of feeling ungrateful and expecting more.

That's just my opinion though and I imagine some parents will read this and just think we're stingy. Whatever anyone spends at Christmas-time is their business and I don't feel judgemental about it. I just wish everyone only spent what they could afford so there didn't have to be debt from buying too much.

Anyway, I love buying presents for Christmas and because I buy quite early I'm often impatient to give the present to see if the recipient likes it. I've already finished wrapping everything so now I have to wait for Christmas to come, argh!

Do you feel Christmas is a time to indulge children or are you more frugal like us? :D

1 comment:

  1. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was at the lunch table with a bunch of my friends. A couple of them were saying they really wanted a Playstation. My family didn't have TV, and I'd never seen or heard of a Playstation before. I imagined that it was the sort of plastic playset you get to put in your back yard with a little slide, a ladder, a hole to crawl through, that kind of thing. My main toys were Lincoln Logs which cost a few dollars; a Playstation was $300 at the time. I don't know what my point is exactly, but I feel like it's a beautiful thing that I didn't want a Playstation because I simply didn't know they existed. I was happy with less expensive things.