Do you have a budget for Christmas gifts? I recently heard on a financial radio podcast of a middle class family with

Average American spending each year.

How much do you spend on Christmas each year?

3 kids that spent $4-6,000 on Christmas each year! They believed this was average for middle income American families. They charged most of their gifts on credit cards and spent the rest of the year paying it off (or not).  I was blown away!

It got me to thinking—what do most people spend on Christmas, Hanukkah, or holiday gifts each year. Since I found it fascinating, I thought you would too.

What Does the Typical Family Spend on Christmas Each Year?

I suspect that everyone thinks that what they spend is typical. The family on the podcast certainly did.  The most reliable research I could find was from the aptly named American Research Group.

 How much does the average American spend on Christmas and Hanukkah

Average American Spending on Christmas or Hanukkah

Annoyingly it is not clear how this applies to a family or how it changes with income levels. Does each parent count separately, thus doubling the number for a two-parent family, or does this number assume that it is per family unit. I’m guessing each one counts separately.

What My Family Spends

I think one of the reasons I was shocked by the family spending $4-6K is that I have four kids (teens +), and we don’t spend even a fourth of what they spend. We have a rough average of what we’ll spend on each child. The amount per child has grown as the kids age, but we’ve topped out at approximately $300 per child, with incidentals for stocking stuffers. We also sometimes get a gift to the family, which is usually some type of game.

I wanted to avoid the onslaught of gifts piled up at Christmas because I think it undermines the spirit of Christmas and the feeling of thankfulness. Santa used to bring three gifts for each child because that’s what the Wise Men brought baby Jesus, but now that their presents are more expensive, he sometimes just brings one big present and maybe something small. They each have one wrapped gift under the tree from my husband and me, and this gift has traditionally been a book.

We developed the custom with our parents to make a contribution to a charity in their name each Christmas as our gift. They do the same for us.

 Now that I’ve shared, it’s your turn. How much do you spend on Christmas or Hanukkah? Do you try to control the amount of gifts? (And yes, I realize that controlling the number is not much of an option for Hanukkah.)

Image credit: Anders Adermark

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