What Should Your Christmas Budget Per Child Be?

what should your christmas budget per child be

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Wondering what your Christmas budget per child should be this year? 

Yeah, me too. 

Are you supposed to set aside a dollar amount based on your income? 

Or decide your budget based on what you've saved earlier in the year? 

Or just decide how good your kid was this year and give appropriately? (I kid, I kid.) 

Figuring out the right amount for your family is so personal because we all have different circumstances that are going to affect our Christmas spending. 

In this post I'm going to share with you what we've budgeted for Christmas this year, as well as help you figure out how much you'll want to spend as well. 

how much to spend on christmas per child

1. Figure Out What Your Total Christmas Budget Is 

what should your christmas budget per child be

Best case scenario, you've been setting aside a little bit of money each month throughout the year so that you have a stockpile of cash sitting in the bank waiting for you this December. This is how we fund Christmas, and it works amazingly!

In our house we have a separate savings account that is just for Christmas.

This Christmas fund covers things like: 

  • Gifts 
  • Holiday parties 
  • Christmas trees and decor 
  • Stocking stuffers 

While this method does take a little bit of advance preparation, I love doing it this way because you only need to save a little bit of money each month to have a really great Christmas. It also takes the stress out of Christmas shopping, and makes it really fun! 

If you haven't saved up any money throughout the year, now is the time to look at your finances and decide how much you can spend on Christmas this year.  

The key here is to not go into debt to do it. Working a few extra hours or taking on a side hustle is a great way to make extra Christmas money if you need to.

I would never recommend that someone purchase their Christmas gifts on a credit card to pay off for the rest of the year. You want to start next year out fresh with a Christmas savings account that you can add to each month! 

In our Christmas savings account we decided to save $50 per month this year. Of course, we started a couple months late, so our end balance for 2019 is $500. For a family of two adults and a two and a half year old, I feel like that's perfect. 

We fall a bit on the minimalist side, so we'll be buying a handful of gifts for our preschooler and a couple of gifts for ourselves.  

Our Christmas fund also covered the tree, new ornaments, and some new tree lights. (Usually we save these year-to-year and reuse them, but we only had one set of lights that was still working this year and most of our ornaments had played "ball" one too many times to be usable!) 


2. Decide How You’ll Split Up Your Christmas budget 

what should your christmas budget per child be

How to Divvy Up Your Christmas Money 

Once you've decided on an amount you can afford to spend this Christmas, it's time to get out a piece of paper and figure out how you'll divvy it up! 

First, you'll want to factor in the cost of your tree and any ornaments you need. Christmas trees vary quite a bit in price depending on what part of the country you live in, although it's usually cheapest to purchase directly from a nursery.  

If you live in the desert or somewhere where Christmas trees don't grow naturally and are quite expensive, it might be worthwhile to look into an artificial tree instead that you can use year after year.  

Check craigslist and eBay first! You may be able to get a really good deal on one that is used but in great condition. 

Set Aside Money for Christmas Parties and Dinners

The next amount you should factor in is any money you'll need for holiday parties. Are you planning on hosting a Christmas dinner or cocktail party this year?  

When I host get-togethers like this, I like to make a rough outline of what I'll be serving and what groceries I will need to put the party on. Then I take this amount from our Christmas budget to cover it.

If you're finding that this takes away a large chunk of your Christmas savings, you may be able to get frugal and use a small amount of your grocery budget to help cover the costs. 

Next up: gifts! 

Spend the Rest of Your Christmas Budget on Gifts

The last step to allocating your Christmas budget is to figure out how much you have left to spend and what gifts you plan to buy for family members. Generally, I tend to spend a lot less on babies and small toddlers.  

My son was only 6 months old on his first Christmas, and about 18 months on his second. Needless to say, he wasn't particularly interested in the presents but did a lot of playing in wrapping paper. We bought him a few small gifts each time, and dripped them out over the course of a couple of weeks when he was 18 months old.  

I've found that really little kids and babies simply don't have the attention span to open and play with a whole pile of presents in one day. Spacing them out a little bit can be far more exciting for them!  

Look at the remainder of your Christmas savings and decide how you will allocate it per family member.

If the amount is looking a little lean, you might put some pretty inexpensive items in your Christmas stockings instead and save the money for actual wrapped gifts. Chocolates and Play-Doh go a long way with little kids for stocking stuffers!


3. Don't Feel Bad If You Can’t Buy as Much as You Want To! 

what should your christmas budget per child be

As parents, it's so easy for us to feel bad when we don't have as much money for Christmas as we wanted. 

Please, please don't feel bad about it!  

Here's a few things to keep in mind. 

1. The real meaning of Christmas is in family and togetherness.

While gifts are nice, I really feel that it's important to teach our kids that the real joy in Christmas is in family. It's the most important thing we have in this life, and I don't feel like gifts should surpass that.  

In fact, I think it breeds unhappiness and unfulfillment when we learn to value materials over our relationships.

If I look back on my childhood years now, the only things I really remember around the holidays were the special memories and the stressful memories. I don't remember very many of the gifts I received, because while they were fun, they really weren't the point.  

As parents we can make Christmas very special even on a budget by making memories together that last forever. So put on some holiday tunes, bake some cookies with the kids, and spend more time laughing and hugging this year.  

2. Your kids do not want you to go into debt to fund Christmas.

I know this might be a little controversial, but I'm just going to say it.

Kids get super stressed out when they know their parents are buying a bunch of things they can't afford to!

Don't do it.  

Kids are extremely perceptive, and you might think you are able to hide these things from them, but they are smarter than you might realize! If you don't have quite the budget you want it for Christmas this year, be honest with them.

Let them know that you'll get them a few special things, but your love isn't tied to the number of gifts they receive and that you can't wait to spend special time with them over the holidays.  

Believe me, they will be much more relieved to hear this honesty than to feel guilty or stressed as they open their gifts.  

So what are we spending on Christmas for our child this year? 

what should your christmas budget per child be

Since I haven't gone and purchased my son's gifts yet, I can't give you an exact number. But I will say that we've set aside up to $100 for our kiddo.

Does that mean I'm definitely going to spend $100 on a two and a half year old for Christmas? No, probably not. We still need to see what's out there and decide what he would actually enjoy playing with.

And it’s pretty likely we’ll end up spending much less than that. But $100 is how much we decided to save so we’d have wiggle room, and I feel pretty good about it.  

All this being said, don't let our decision influence how you will be spending on you and yours!

At the moment, we only have one child to spoil. We also did some saving earlier in the year, so we have a bit more to spend per child this Christmas.  

If you only have $30, $50, or $80 to spend per kid, or heck even if you plan to go all out and spend way more, that is totally reasonable and there's no need to change it.

Coming up with a Christmas budget per child not only has to do with money and income, but it also has to do with values.  

Every family has different values and different ways of looking at gifts and material possessions, and I think that plays a big part in Christmas giving.


I've got a pretty easy formula for


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