Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Spending

Well, I'm getting ready to take the kids and my sister Christmas shopping this afternoon, and as a part of that I needed to do my own compilation of what I've gotten for presents so far this year. I keep a running list each year of what I've gotten and how much I've spent for the kids. In roughing it out for the first time, I'm amazed to find that I am within $6 of having spent the same amount on each kid, and have purchased the same number of gifts for each. Because of the logistics of some of the gift-giving requirements I hold in my head, however, two of Kira's list are going to be combined into one gift, and she's the $6 short anyway, so I'm gonna pick something up for $6 and then it'll all be even.

I know I'm a little obsessive this way, and let me tell you, it's a real trick to even out gifts for an 11 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. Everything the 11 year old wants is expensive. So it would be very easy to have a few gifts for Mark and a million for Kira and have spent the same amount of money. But I really want them to have the same *number* of presents, too, so Mark usually gets a few little "trinket" gifts to balance out one "bigger" gift of Kira's. They get pretty much the same things in their stockings, so the $ works out there. All told I'm spending a little less than $200 per kid, including stockings.

The idea has been to downsize. When I was still married, Christmas was insane. Each kid got more than 30 presents, and it was just crazy. On our home videos, we captured the last Christmas with X, and you literally couldn't see the floor in the living room, there were so many presents. After the opening, there's a shot of Mark standing behind his pile of gifts, and you pretty much couldn't see him, it was such a mountain. I flinch every time I even think about that kind of excess. I've cut way, WAY back, but I've had to do it a little at a time so there isn't so much shell-shock. Now I'm down to less than 10 gifts per kid each year, and one of those is a "big" gift from me (usually about $30-40) and another is a "big/cool" gift from Santa (he *always* gives the most fun gift). There's usually a joint gift of a video or two. And then a few little playthings.

I'm curious as to how much money other people spend on their kids for Christmas. And do you try to make the money equal, or the number of presents equal, or both, or neither? mk

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