I would like to keep the Christmas budget low this year. Actually, I'd like to keep our total Gifts Budget a bit lower than it has been - but I'm finding it difficult.
The problem I am facing is that our friends and family spend too much on gifts. This puts pressure on me to spend too much in kind.
This past weekend I had a joint birthday party for 2 of my daughters that have birthdays close together. The average gift for each daughter was $25, including actual gift cards and cash in that amount.
This puts pressure on me to give birthday gifts and Christmas gifts back to these people in the amount of $25. (Actually, some of my friends have argued that I should be giving more in some cases. They believe that if my cousin, who has 1 child, gives each of my 3 children a $25 gift for their birthday, that I should give that cousin's child a $75 gift on her birthday! This is completely outside of my budget, so I don't even get in to considering this. I would prefer that my cousin got my kids an $8 gift - but how do I do that?)
On the surface, everything seems fine. They give my kids $25 gifts. I give their kids $25 gifts. And everything is equal. The problem is that I can't really afford to spend this much money on gifts. It's not like I take the cash from my kids (even when the gift is cash). The truth is that all the kids have too much money tied up in lots of toys and stuff that they don't need (including my kids). All these $25 gifts add up to a lot of money. Money that I would rather spend paying off debts, putting into savings, paying for my daughters to go to college, investing, etc.
I have tried, especially with my 3 sisters, to get them to give less expensive gifts, but it hasn't had much of an effect.
I know I should just give what I feel is appropriate and that I can afford, and not worry about how much they spend on my family - but that is easier said than done.