How much do you spend on Christmas presents? How much is foolishly excessive and how much is just meagre? I don’t know! And does it vary depending on how many children you have and how old they are?
My children are quite small – 4 and 1. This has it’s advantages. At this age, gifts generally come in big packages (note, this is an advantage for the appearance of a mountainous present pile, not for actually housing said gift), and the children don’t present you with much of a wish list either. I’ve picked up things for them over the past few months, as and when I’ve spotted deals, safe in the knowledge that they won’t change their minds and hate it come December 25th. So for my present pile, I’ve grabbed bargains, often repeated with the 4 year-old what she wants from Santa so that that’s what she always asks for (it feels like I’ve reached brainwashing capacity on this now – I’m not sure she even knows why she wants it any more…) and searched relentlessly for an eminently cuddly Makka Pakka. All wrapped up now, and their piles look quite respectable. There are more than enough toys and books to keep them happy, and I know they’ll get a whole stack more from family and friends. Job done.
But what’s this? My friend has spent twice the amount that I have, on her son. That’s a lot of cash. ‘But, it’s Christmas, isn’t it?’ Well, yes, it is. Now she’s got me thinking, do we need to get more?
The thing is, I have two kids. At their ages, every gift they have is interchangeable. My son will play with his sister’s new ball track and Lego, and my daughter will play with his new trains and puzzles. They do have twice the presents on their pile in that way, and fortunately for me, they share. One new book has them excitable, so surely a pile of gifts will send them into a frenzy?! And I can’t help but feel that any more and it’ll just be too much, and some presents will be left forgotten. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been one for ‘keeping up with the Jones”, though I do want to do the best I can for my family, so how much is the right amount?
I guess what it comes down to, at least this is how I’ve settled it for me, is will the gifts make them smile on Christmas morning and will I still be smiling when my credit card bill comes through? The smileometer is my guide through this season…