Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas shopping for the kiddos, equal gifts or equal amount spent?

It's that time of year again.  The TV is flooded with Christmas advertisements, the kids channels have new toy commercials on constantly.  It seems like every single day a new toy or clothing catalog gets delivered in the mail.  And, I swear to God, if I get one more 40% off EVERYTHING coupon from Justice, I might boycott the store all together.  After all, how many freaking coupons from one store do you really need in one month?

Years ago it was really easy to shop for the kids when they were little.  The coach and I actually used to take them with us half the time.  At first we would tell them they were gifts for other people, like their cousins.  Then we started hiding things in the carriage.  Next we evolved to the good ole split up with a child and shop for the other one tactic.  It was awesome and we got the job done.  By the time Christmas strolled around, they had forgotten what we bought the month before anyway.

Even deciding what to buy was easy.  Except for the athlete.  This is a child that after the age of 2 stopped playing with toys.  And I mean every single toy.  He just wasn't a toy kind of kid.  That didn't stop us foolish parents from buying him toys for Christmas every single year and shoving them down his throat, insisting that we could "teach" him to like to play with toys!  (Yeah that worked out real well.  It only took 5 or 6 years for us to realize we were spending a small fortune on things for him to open on Christmas morning, oooh and aaaaah over, and then never touch again.)

We finally smartened up and stopped wasting our money on crap he would never use.  But, it makes it difficult to try and keep things fair between both our kids.  The athlete tends to want/like more expensive items, while the princess is really into arts and crafts, toys, and clothes.  We tried to spend an equal amount on both kids but what ended up happening is we would have a carriage full of stuff for the princess and maybe a handful of things for the athlete.  One year the athlete had significantly less gifts to open than the princess.   He was old enough to understand that his gifts cost a lot more money than his sisters. He did ok with that.   But I felt terrible while he sat there and watched his sister open gifts for another 20 minutes after he had finished.   I decided then it was not the way for my family to do things. 

So again, I changed my philosophy.  I decided that it's more important for my children to have close to the same amount of gifts to open under the tree than to have spent the same amount on each of them.  After all, they aren't going to open their presents and then start calculating the total price of their loot! (At least mine don't anyway!)  But I can tell you from my own childhood memories and 10 years of Christmas mornings with my own children, that they will keep track of the number of gifts they and their siblings receive!  I would rather the obvious be more equal.

When all is said and done and I tally up the total spent for on both children, the difference is within a couple hundred dollars of each other.   We're not talking about a huge amount more for one child over the other.   So, that's my way of keeping it fair and the reasons why I do it.   And I don't feel guilty about it one bit!

How do you play Santa for your children?  Do you have the same problems with one child having a  more expensive Christmas wish list than another?  What is your fair way?  I would love to hear how all the other moms out there do things!


  1. My boys have pretty much both always been the same way with toys. Even when they were little and would pick something out. It would never get played with or my youngest would demolish it in seconds.

    It is all about the numbers though. My boys are 12 and 8 now and while I do try to keep the costs on what I spend for each of them as close as possible, it really just comes down to the number of gifts they each have and they do count them!

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