No, You Don’t Need To Spend The Same Amount Of Money On Each Kid For Christmas
For as long as I can remember, my family has adhered to a particular budget for everyone with Christmas gifts. The budget is well-known to all and everyone follows it to the penny. I am talking, to the point where my 84-year old grandmother goes around after present opening and hands us envelopes with cash sums such as $7 or $12.50 to make sure everyone is even. I know the motivation is always pure but I can’t help but think that with little ones in particular, it is throwing good money after bad. Kids don’t know how much things cost or how much things are worth. If you have to struggle to make gifts “even” between nieces and nephews or your own kids, it can be maddening. I feel strongly that you don’t need to spend the same amount of money on each kid for Christmas just to say that you did it. This is how parents end up with a house full of toys they don’t need and gift-givers end up driving themselves crazy trying to hit a certain dollar amount.
When my kids were tiny, I begged our relatives not to go crazy with gifts and in particular, not to worry if their gifts were evenly matched. When my son was only a baby and my daughter was two, I didn’t see any need for the baby to get the same level of giftage as the older kid. He had no idea what was going on (and frankly, neither did she) and I was not petty enough to demand that things be equal between them. Again, I know the motivation is good and my family wants to be fair but it seems silly to spend money just to say that you are keeping things even.
For my own part, I practice what I preach. My kids are five and seven and my son has far less demands this year than my daughter. I don’t see the need to struggle to come up with gift ideas when there is hardly anything he really wants. He is getting a Nintendo 3DS from my parents and I know that is all he is going to care about so I am choosing to not go nutty with gifts for him this year. Why try to match what I am buying his sister when I know all he is going to be concerned with is his precious Nintendo? I am still buying him gifts and they will probably be the same in number as his sister because that is something they probably would notice but I feel no pressure to match what I am spending on him to what I am spending on her. I know I love them both equally and they will have NO idea what it all cost.
As they get older and understand more, I will probably pull a Grandma and give out envelopes of cash in uneven amounts to make sure I am being fair but while they aren’t any the wiser, I am not going to bang my head against the wall trying to come up with gifts worth the same amount of money. That is not what Christmas should be about.