The Christmas Present Pile-Up: How Do You Avoid Buying Too Much?

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I have always been of the idea that Christmas should be an over-indulgent, gaudy, extravagant holiday.

What can I say? I love to give.

And being from a family that had some financial difficulty while growing up, Christmas was always a fond memory. Why? Because my parents went ALL OUT. We didn’t get a lot throughout the year in the way of toys, and I think my parents tried to make up for it at Christmas. We always had presents spilling out from under the tree and climbing up the walls with the stash slowly progressing out into the middle of the living room. Okay, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but that’s what it looked like to my little girl eyes.

But I’m sure my parents went into debt every Christmas. Looking back, I have no idea how they could have afforded it.

So now I’m an adult with three children -- soon to be four -- and I STILL have not figured out the best way to do Christmas in terms of gift giving. I just don’t know how to NOT go overboard.

Luckily, we haven’t gone into debt over Christmas -- but we definitely spend (and give) too much to our children.

See exhibit A below:

The Christmas Present Pile-Up: How Do Avoid Buying Too Much?

Above is a picture of Christmas 2011. That picture isn’t even the tip of the iceberg -- that’s just one section of the living room. And needless to say, most Christmases are like this.


Last Christmas there was hope! I had heard of this brilliant gift-giving philosophy on a parenting forum -- and it goes like this:

Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear. Something to read.

I know this gift-giving philosophy is nothing new. But it gave me better gift-giving guidelines to live by during the holidays. Previously, I tried budgeting a certain amount of money per child, but that never worked for me. There was always something else I wanted to purchase, and I would end up going way over-budget.

But this.

These brilliant new guidelines gave me hope.

So last year I tried it.

And I was semi-successful. Did we still buy too much? Yes. Each child definitely got more than four presents a piece. But I feel that we put more thought into what we were purchasing and ended up spending less than previous Christmases.

So my question to you is: How do you reign in your spending for Christmas? Or better yet, how much do you buy per child?

Do you use the guidelines that I mentioned, or do you have a different way of determining what you purchase? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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