Saturday, December 11, 2010

Making it all come out even... or NOT!

Every year I struggle with this dilemma.  We have 6 children, 5 that we're buying gifts for.  They range in age from 11 down to 2.  Somewhere along the line I got the idea that we were supposed to be trying to make their gifts come out even.  What does that mean?  Same number of packages to open?  Same amount of money spent?  I can't seem to make it come out even either way.  I'm so frustrated!

My ideas to make Christmas shopping easy on me this year were 1.) take a trip instead of buying gifts or 2.) give a large collective gift for all the kids to share.  Both of these great ideas got vetoed by either Big D, the children, or both, so I've joined the ranks of Christmas shoppers everywhere trying to find just the right gifts for 5 of my 6 precious children.  (Calvin's only 2 months old so I don't think he'll mind my skipping over him this year.)

We absolutely can't afford to spend as much on our 4 and 2 yr olds as we do on our 3 oldest children.  My goal is to spend approximately the same amount on the 11, 9, and 7 yr olds.  And my goal is for the 2 and 4 yr olds to have at least as many packages to open as their older siblings.  Maybe more.  Does this sound fair?  I was an only child so I'm always at a loss as to how to go about Christmas gift giving.  Inevitably what happens is that I end up buying more and more and more in a futile effort to make it come out even!  (I know what you're thinking, Roan.  That's why you use a Christmas planner, right?  OK, maybe I'll try that next year.)  Any other words of wisdom?  How do you make it "come out even"?  Every year I think we're going to simplify gift giving and every year I end up letting things get out of hand.


  1. It sounds like you've got the right idea! I try to have the same amount of packages for each of the girls right now. As they get older, it will probably be a specific amount of money. If they want something expensive, that will be all they get. If they want little things, it will be more to open.

    I have to say that I have a greater appreciation for my mom now and what she went through each year for Christmas!

  2. Celee,
    We get our kids the same number of gifts. This year, they each got 6. Landen, our 15 month-old got 2 ;) I've tried the "spend-the-same-amount-on-each-child", but they get more upset if they get less packages to open. A few years ago, Allison got a Nintendo DS, which was almost $200, so she obviously got only a few other small gifts. She didn't understand why. So, this year, I spent about $300 total on 4 kids. I was pretty proud of myself!
    (formerly Growing Blessings)

  3. We have six as well. We spent $50ish on each child. We told them ahead of time that there was a $50 amount, and I tried to shop around in a way that everyone got pretty much the same amount too. This year was easier because we had a "no video game" policy. The kids also have a few group gifts, from us, and a few from other people. We always have more in the end than it seems, and I am glad we lowered our limit from $100 to $50. Good Luck!

  4. I totally agree with you all the way around. The trip and all, I was vetoed also. And I was/am an only child too. Lord help show us what to do. I only have three and we do the same amount of presents, with hopefully about the same amount of money for each. That is really hard to do. One year, I hope, everyone will agree on a trip. It would be so much fun (and easier I hope). Have a Blessed Christmas!
    Tonya in Washington State!

  5. Ugh, this can be so hard, I hear ya!

    We have nine kids. What we do is try to have the same amount of gifts for the younger ones to open (since they don't really understand the dollar amount, just getting a gift is a thrill for them, so we try to keep them with the same number of presents to open no matter how much each one costs) With our older three (teenagers) they will get fewer gifts because they tend to ask for more expensive items, so sometimes depending on how much their "wish list" adds up, we will just get a select gift or two for them...and they, of course, understand.

    The thing that has always been very hard in the past years was the gift-giving amongst the siblings. Bless their little hearts, they ALL want to buy gifts for each of their brothers and sisters. Well, since the younger six do not yet make their own money outside the home, this can get quite expensive (and time consuming to shop!) for mom & dad! Taking each child on their own shopping trip to buy for their siblings...that just can't happen. Each gift they want to buy for each sibling can be anywhere between $6-$15. It just gets to be too much money. So this year...I took my younger children (ages 11, 9, 7, 5, and 4 -- the baby is only 2 and doesn't buy gifts for siblings yet!)
    to the .99 cent store. They each were given $10 to spend (some of that money was earned for doing chores) and with that money they could buy everyone in the family one gift (8 siblings plus mom and dad) -- They each took off down the aisles and carefully selected items for each sibling. I was surprised at the thought they put into each gift. They knew each sibings' likes and hobbies. There are so many things at the .99 cent store. They had a lot to look over. They loved that everything was just .99 cents! They felt rich. It was a lot of fun, and after about two hours, each child had ALL of their Christmas shopping done, and it only cost me $50 and two hour's time. Some of the gifts they selected: coloring books, a jeweled crown, a magic wand, a book, stickers for a sticker collection, a large box of a favorite candy, a wallet, a daily planner, a blank journal, a wall calendar, nail polish, hair ribbons, a pack of two lip glosses, etc. Each had their own basket that they pushed around to put their selections in. They had to keep it "secret" from each other and that was the only keep others from "peeking". Other than that, it went smoothly and we will be doing this again next year :)

  6. We have started doing the "gold, frankincense & myrrh" gifts. Each kid gets a gold gift- something they really want, a frankincense gift- we do pj's, and a myrrh gift- a gift to bring them closer to God. see

    We love how this helps keep Christ at the center and the materialism down. Also keeps the clutter down ;)

  7. Our pile of Christmas gifts each year is huge. (Not only from our own family gift giving--we only have 2 children--but from the grandparents as well.) For the past few years, I have struggled with the desire to give my kids the magical big Christmases that I had as a child and the desire to make it simple and minimalist and not about the gifts. This year, I took a tip from a friend. Our girls are each getting a book, an item of clothing (a want, not a need), a game and craft kit. I tried to worry less about the $ amounts being equal and more about what they would see as equal in terms of number of gifts and entertainment value of the gifts. I think I have done well this year and have felt much less overwhelmed this year with the purchasing of gifts. I think I will keep with this plan for next year as well....though I may drop it to three gifts a piece. I imagine that it is tough to try and balance gifts for kids whose ages vary so much.

  8. Wow, thanks for the great ideas! I like the 3 gift rule. I started with a book, game, and craft, then added pjs, then it spiraled out of control from there. I like the idea of the kids getting one gift of their choice. I'm doing that with the big kids this year, but their choices are expensive! I also love the idea of the dollar store, Katrina. Some of my kids have expressed a desire to give to their siblings, but we've never done that before.

    Thanks, everyone!


  9. You're doing about what I do. Little kids count packages. Big kids know better. So my big kids get an equal amount spent on them, but the little ones just like lots of little things to open.

    A couple of things will be 'group gifts.'

    And our new baby (who has yet to appear) will be getting a new toy bar for her car seat. : ) For brand new babies I like to get practical gifts.

  10. i don't worry so much about the money as about the number of actual for each of the girls, i make sure they have the same number of things to open...



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.