Parents, do you worry about keeping it even?

United States
December 15, 2010 9:53am CST
Most years I do try my best to ensure each kid has the same number of presents to open. I know there were a few years I couldn't get my oldest as many gifts as the younger kids.. but his gifts were pricier and things he'd like more (like the year he got a Gameboy.. his first video game ever). He didn't seem to mind that he got less because he was so excited about the Gameboy. Also over the last few years I wasn't as concerned about the youngest child having the same number of gifts to open, because he was too young for it to matter. He's almost 3 now.. and I remember last year when the others had 1 or 2 gifts more than him he was upset (to him it doesn't matter if his gifts are exciting or not.. he just needs presents to unwrap, LOL). Well this year I'm struggling again to keep it even.. not just in numbers but also in excitment. I don't think it would be fair if one kid got 5 bland presents while another got 5 awesome presents.. so I try to keep that even as well. It's not easy with 5 kids and not much money! So far it's looking like my oldest will have the most exciting gifts. He's getting brand new Skechers (his first pair of name brand shoes since he was 4.. normallly he gets $10 Walmart shoes), a Nike coat with a NY Giants emblem, a 6 month subscription to Sports Illustrated, a ps3 game, and a CD player (all 3 of the older kids will get a video game and a CD player). My 8 year old son so far has the most number of gifts. The problem there is when I saw a great sale on pajamas, I found 2 pair that I thought he'd love, and couldn't choose between them, so got him both (where as the other kids each only got 1 pair of pajamas). Also, he's really into Star Wars all of a sudden, so I saw some Star Wars action figures for a good price.. and got 2 of those as well. There were a few other things I wanted to get him.. like accessories for his Zhu Zhu pet (his sister will be getting a Zhu Zhu pet outfit.. but so far he doesn't have one) but I'm worried about him having more gifts than the other kids.. I don't want to have to buy more stuff for the other ones just because he got 2 pair of pj's and 2 Star Wars toys. So he's got a larger number of gifts but his aren't quite as exciting though he should still really like them. So far my youngest 2 have the least amount of gifts.. but I will be getting them a few more before I'm done. They're still at the ages where they don't need exciting gifts, they just want to open presents, and they don't need anything expensive. A few $5 gifts and they'll be all set and very happy. So for them I'm not worried about excitement, just numbers to keep them even with the rest. I know this is something I worry about every year.. and it always works out fine whether the gifts are even or not. I guess I just over think it too much, and worry about the kids having a negative reaction (and they never have). Do you worry about keeping the children's gifts even?
6 people like this
18 responses
@AmbiePam (49884)
• United States
16 Dec 10
My parents just always explained to us that they spent the same amount on each of us. They told us no matter how many presents we got, they spent the same amount on both of us. And we were fine with that. It was just me and my sister though. You've got more kids and a wider age gap. So you've got a harder time.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Dec 10
3 of mine still believe in Santa, so I can't tell them that I spent the same amount on them.. plus because of their ages, $100 would go far enough for my 3 year old but I wouldn't be able to get much for my 13 year old with that much money.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (49884)
• United States
16 Dec 10
I forgot about Santa. We never believed in him, so that wasn't a factor. That would be tricky.
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@sender621 (14956)
• United States
15 Dec 10
I try not to show any favoritism at christmas time. this includes my children. i try my best to keep things even so nobody feels slighted. Sometimes it can be hard to know if i am buying something more or better for one of my children than the other. I am usually happy with my choices in the end.
• United States
15 Dec 10
Yes, that is the trouble I am facing.. will the kids think it's even. But I am looking at each child's gifts from that child's perspective. I doubt the 8 year old will think the 13 year old's sneakers and coat are more exciting than his own gifts, but the 13 year old will.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
18 Dec 10
Well that's exactly it. Each child has different expectations of the day, a different special gift or two that they wanted and asked for. If they get that gift they asked for and then some, well... the excitement level is usually way over the moon! The older ones understand the cost factor somewhat too and can calculate quite easily that while they got 4 or 5 gifts that cost $400 altogether, their sibling got 15 gifts that cost less altogether, but she's happier because what she wanted was in there and she got MORE presents lol.
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
18 Dec 10
Fair and even are not always equal... as a parent, we have to consider the age(s) of the kids. For instance, when the older ones were just a bit younger, say their last christmas at home, they were into things like computers and tvs and cell phones, xbox and ps2, all expensive things with expensive accessories. What I consider both fair and even is spending roughly the same amount on each, regardless of number of gifts. If you need small or cheap 'extra' presents, consider things your kids go thru and use up, like art supplies, play doh, or small gift cards for things so they can go 'shopping', like at toysrus or target, or even the movie theater or mcdonalds. Even five dollars is cool if they are little... or you could get them a wallet or a purse with the gift card inside it. When my daughter was younger I would individually wrap each thing because she loved unwrapping stuff, so instead of like now where I'd put several floor size art pads in one wrapping, all the paint containers in one package, all the boxes of crayons in one package, i wrapped each one by itself so she'd have a huge mountain of small presents to open. I have to admit though that I shop all year. I always have, so by the time the beginning of Nov rolls around and I start my 'seasonal' shopping, I already have it about half done. An example of amount spent vs number of presents was one year when we got the big kids their own computers and tvs. They each got a computer with a flat screen monitor and small flat screen tvs. We got the boy a game or two for his xbox too and I think phone cards for my daughter's cell. Those were all big gifts so they were expensive. Comparatively, our little one got the bulk of the wrapped gifts, but a lot of hers were toys, art supplies, clothes. She didn't ask for anything big that year except a trampoline, so that was from santa. Smaller kids are definitely easier to shop for, except for one of my friends, her son who's also 6 - he asked for an xbox 360 and an IPHONE! I uh.. don't think so!
1 person likes this
• United States
19 Dec 10
I think that's fine with older kids because they're so happy they got something that cool that they don't totally care that they don't have a bunch of things to unwrap. I know a few years ago.. I think my oldest was 10, he got his first video game ever (I was against the idea of kids playing video games before that). Granted it didn't cost me much, I bought the old style GameBoy off e-bay.. but it was a tight Christmas and I knew that GameBoy would be the best gift he ever recieved to that point.. so he got 2 or 3 less than the younger kids and I told him so after they were all done.. he was fine because he did love the GameBoy so much. But still, personally I think having a bit more to open is more fun than having 1 big thing and that's it.. at least when it comes to kids. Of course remember mine are all still very young.. the oldest is only 13 now, and this year we could not afford any big expensive things so they'll all be getting the same number of gifts and they're all rather inexpensive, but they'll still love them all.
16 Dec 10
To me i see this as it is not the quantity of the presents but the quality. I have 3 children, they are all of different ages, they therefor all want diferent things, yes some will have more presents to open, some will have bigger presents (in size) than others but at the end of the day all my children will have what they like and they will all have the exact same amount of money spent on them. I will never spend more on one than the others. So far all of my kids are happy and have never complained so i must be doing something right. When my kids were babies i tried to focus more on putting money in the bank for them so they have something when they get to being an adult, this stops really when they start to ask for certain presents as i then get them the presents they want and i try throughout the year to still put money in my childrens accounts.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Dec 10
My 5 children's ages range between 3 and 13. If I were to spend $200 per child exactly.. well the 3 year old can get a lot for $200 because he's at an age where he can appreciate inexpensive toys. However $200 would not go far for the 13 year old because at his age he wants gifts that are more expensive. I don't think it would be fair that the 3 year old got to open 20 gifts where as the 13 year old only got 5. So I do not pay attention to how much I spend, I just ensure each child gets the same number of gifts and they do not feel another child got better gifts than them. My 8 year old would not feel that a coat and pair of sneakers is a good gift.. but the 13 year old who's recieving these gifts are going to LOVE them and the 8 year old will love the toys he's recieving. That's how I even it out!
1 person likes this
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
17 Dec 10
I always worry about making sure that both of my children have the same number of gifts. In fact, I start my Christmas shopping very early in the year, and as soon as I buy the first gift I make a spreadsheet so that I am able to keep track of the gifts that I've bought for the kids so that I don't inadvertantly buy much more for one child than for the other. This year they will each be getting some pajamas, 3 outfits and a toy to open on Christmas morning. As far as Santa Claus goes, they are each getting seven things plus stocking stuffers (thank you Amazon for the gift cards that I was able to earn). I think I spent about $250 out of pocket for everything that they will be getting.
1 person likes this
@maximax8 (28559)
• United Kingdom
16 Dec 10
I have a 17 month old baby daughter, a 3 year old disabled son and a 15 year old son. buy my kids what I think they will like and I try not to worry about keeping the value of children's gifts equal. I got my baby daughter a toy laptop and a toy mobile phone. I know she loves touching buttons and seeing colorful lights flash. I have bought my disabled toddler son a Lego train and a Lego tractor. These toys were expensive due to the brand name. I have got my teenage son a computer game, an aircraft calendar and some pens for school. I would say that I give my nephew and nieces equal presents. Each present cost around twenty pounds. I got nephews star wars toys and annuals. I got my oldest niece a secret diary and a Barbie annual. I got my younger niece a doll and a Pepper Pig annual.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (101789)
• United States
16 Dec 10
I do not remember that it was a problem. I only had two and they liked similar stuff. They shared a lot.I have a harder time now that they are adult, but they do not care what they receive, it is me.Some of my issues have to do with where they are in their lives.
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@jazel_juan (15767)
• Philippines
16 Dec 10
oh yes i know what you mean, i only have 3 kids and it is still so tough. i am not worrying about my baby since he is just 9 months old he does not care about gifts right now hahaha but i am worried with my other two, my daughter the eldest, usually have more gifts because she is in school and her friends do give her gifts plus her god parents often give gifts that my second son's godparents! so this december i believe she has more since she has a xmas party to attend to and she will be receiving a gift on that day..but then i still stress out that gifts do not matter...and it is their health is much more important and that they are happy and as much as possible they share.. i hope they would understand
1 person likes this
@bunnybon7 (37169)
• Holiday, Florida
15 Dec 10
i used to do the same when the kids were growing up and still do when they are close to each other and find out what i gave to each. but now i have the grandkids i do that with. most dont live here in this state and dont communicate enough to know what i sent who. but i now have my youngest sons 2 babies and step child. they will probably come over for their gifts together since his wife has her 8yr old on most holidays. so, im getting some concern about her older kid, since hes used to getting the same as my natural ones by him. at first i was just concerned about the fact that the little girl being only 2yrs, i kept seeing things i thought was so cute for her and buying them then it dawned on me that i sure dont want the 4yr old boy to feel like his new little sister is getting more. so, i bought extra things to make it even. then, now im worried about what to do about the oldest, which i find im resenting a little having to buy as much, since ive been told his dad can afford and buys him whatever he wants. i dont want to be like this, but it puts me in a position. but not to worry, ive still made sure he has the same amount. but it bugs me that its how i started it all.
• United States
15 Dec 10
Well I can understand why you feel that way.. but it's not the boy's fault that his family isn't "traditional". No matter what the age he would feel awful if he had to sit and watch his younger siblings open presents while he got none or not as many. Though I wonder if the boy's father is considerate enough to buy the other 2 children any gifts?
@bunnybon7 (37169)
• Holiday, Florida
15 Dec 10
i asked my son about this and he said no. its a case of they go pick him up from his dads on the weekends and some holidays not to worry. i always do buy for that one about the same, but it does bug me. i know it shouldnt but i fight the feeling so im now trying to make sure he gets the same. as i always did before the little girl came along. my daughter says, i should maybe just give the middle one, boy, my grandson. little things when he comes over. as if its just something i had around. im constantly worried he will feel left out when his older brother has 2 dads giving, more grandparents, and now he has to share attention with the baby girl. and whats worse is, from not having a little girl to buy for for so many years, im partial to her myself and have to constantly keep check on myself for that and purposely pay attention to my grandson.
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
15 Dec 10
I try to keep it even. Not the number of gifts, but the value...
• United States
15 Dec 10
Each child has their own view of value.. that makes it easier on me. As I said, the younger 2 will value cheap gifts the same as expensive gifts.. so I get off easy not having to spend too much money on them. That will change as the years go by though.. Lord help me!
1 person likes this
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
15 Dec 10
I remember one time we went to San Francisco, and Naomi got a rather expensive stuffed animal at the aquarium. The other 2 kids got 2 souvenirs. Naomi complained all the way home that she only got one thing and they got 2, even though hers cost more than theirs...
• United States
15 Dec 10
Exactly.. kids don't look at the monetary value. That is why I never set a price limit like some parents do "$200 per child". Well $200 wouldn't go far enough for my 13 year old.. and $200 would go too far for my 3 and 4 year olds. I just try to see the gifts from each child's point of view and try to get it so they'll have the same level of excitement over all. Hope that makes sense.
1 person likes this
@peedielyn (1210)
• United States
15 Dec 10
We have 7 and sometimes 8 kids to buy for. I found out early in our relationship that his kids count the gifts. I never had that problem with any of mine. My kids, like all kids, have very very different personalities. I always tried to maintain the amount of gifts to the number,just in case. Well, my oldest is a science whizz, the youngest boy is into hotwheels, oldest girl is into girly things, and my baby (7 years old) is into artistic things. This sounds complicated but it's actually very easy on me, as I know what to get. When my beau combined our families, his kids make it a point to count down to the "T". Last year, his 4 year old got 9 gifts, while all the others got 8. It didn't matter to them that it was only a pair of toe socks, they threw a fit. They ruined that day for me. So this year, I will make 4 boxes for each child, and that's what they get. I will place all the presents that I bought them and squish it all into each of the four boxes they recieve. Therefore, they all got "4 gifts" and no one can count. I thought all year long for this idea...that or "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit". I get eyes rolled at me when I say that, so they can get what they get, and if they throw a fit, I will take the stuff back and give it to them on their birthday. It's going to be funny when they get earmuffs and fuzzy socks in the middle of summer.
• United States
15 Dec 10
I am glad mine are not like that. They've never had an issue with the gifts not being equal. Well, my youngest did last year as he wanted to keep opening gifts.. but he was not quite 2 and it wasn't the gifts that mattered to him it was the fun of unwrapping. Your hubby's kids would drive me batty.. I can't stand for that sort of stuff. Even if mine are upset by it, they'll keep it to themselves. I guess your idea is a good one for those kids.. but for my kids they enjoy opening presents so much that they'd much rather open 20 pairs of fuzzy socks than 1 box full of fuzzy socks.. you know. Though I agree you must teach your step kids a lesson here.. perhaps if they can behave and be greatful for what they recieve then next year it can go back to normal. What I tend to do if I'm desperate to get things evened out is I'll wrap 2 items together.. like I've been debating wrapping my son's 2 sets of pj's together so it counts as 1 gift. Last year my daughter was the one with the most gifts.. so I ended up not giving her a book I'd bought for her, and planned to give it to her later.. but it was a High School Musical book and suddenly she's not into it anymore, so that book still sits in a drawer in my room with no plans for it. BTW-- as you said your kids all have different personalities.. so do mine. My oldest is a sports nut, my 8 year old is into super heroes, my 3 year old loves cars of any kind.. the 4 year old likes both cars and super heroes but is more into movie and TV characters.. and my daughter is a typical girly girl. So it really is quite easy on me as well.
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
18 Dec 10
I've always done that too - if I have to make FEWER boxes, bags, or things to open, I just get a large box and put several like-themed items in it together. If I need to make MORE boxes, bags, or things to open, I just separate things.. like 20 fuzzy socks lol. I think my daughter would think it was funny.. probably on up to the 11th fuzzy sock. then she might begin throwing them at me.
@mtdewgurl74 (18118)
• United States
19 Dec 10
My sister in law is a person who has to have the same amount spent on each child and the same about of gifts..which is hard.. so there have been many times when we would have to wrap two/3 things in one gift. Wrap the toys with pajamas...? That would make it more exciting to open..
• United States
19 Dec 10
Well I am not worried about spending the same amount of money on each kid.. that would be impossible as my 13 year old needs a few gifts that are slightly more costly while my 3 year old is perfectly happy with a few $5 gifts. I just don't want any of the kids to think their gifts are bland while someone else's are awesome, you know? Well, I ended up returning 1 set of pajamas because it wasn't fair he got 2 sets anyways.. and he didn't really need them.. and I took one of the Star Wars guys and gave it to the 4 year old instead which helped because I hadn't been finished with the 4 year old yet when I made that decision so that was one less thing I had to buy for him.
@jillhill (37383)
• United States
15 Dec 10
I used to when they were little and for the most part I spend the same on all of them...including the grandkids...however...my son and his family are closer so they tend to get just a bit more..like stocking stuffers....however if anyone else were home they would also get stocking stuffers! I spent a little more this year also because my son wanted something special and I could afford it...so I got his wife something special too...something she has wanted for a long time..I can't wait to see her open it as her's is a surprise while my son will figure he got what he wanted! LOL
• United States
15 Dec 10
I haven't spent much time thinking about how I'll shop for my grandkids once I have them. I think I'm freaking out now trying to afford gifts for 5 kids.. OMG.. Imagine how many grandkids I could have! Yikes! I'd better get 2 or 3 jobs once my kids are older, LOL.
@cynthiann (18619)
• Jamaica
15 Dec 10
Yes, I used to worry a lot over gifts - I really mega worried but, it usually turned out okay as far as I remember. We had some very frugal Christmas'though. Rachel reminded me the other day when we had a big Christmas breakfast where the son's and GF's turned up and then they went to their GF's mother's house for the rest of the day. We were so broke as my husband was getting so ill and we did not cook Christmas dinner but went out to a cheap Chinese restaurant and had very cheap meal. I remember driving home and Rachel thanked us both for a wonderful Christmas.Tears came to my eyes at her generosity of spirit towards her Dad and me as her Dad was no longer able to provide for us.
• United States
15 Dec 10
Mother's aren't paid what they're worth.. but it's moments like that which make it all worth while. Proof that you raised a good family with kind hearts.. not that I expect less from a woman such as yourself.
@peavey (16856)
• United States
15 Dec 10
Even though my kids are all adults now, I very carefully count the number of gifts for the ones who are nearby, but not for the ones who live across the nation. The ones who aren't here for Christmas wouldn't know what or how much anyone else got, so it's simply a matter of not hurting anyone's feelings. I spend about the same amount on each one, though.
• United States
15 Dec 10
Sounds like a good plan.
@carolscash (9500)
• United States
15 Dec 10
I have two girls and I always tried to keep their gifts even. I tried to buy the same number of gifts and tried to spend about the same amount on gifts. I know that it really doesn't matter but I never wanted one to feel less loved than the other one. I applaud you for doing it with 5 kids the way that you are.
• United States
15 Dec 10
It's not easy. I am lucky that my little ones are still so young that it doesn't matter to them what they get as long as they open cool toys they'll like. It won't be so easy as they get older.
• United States
15 Dec 10
I always make sure my 2 have the same amount of gifts. I find it is only fair that way. My husband didn't think anything of it when he bought our son an extra gift and I made him go out and get our daughter another gift. I think it is only fair unless one of the kids gets a really expensive gift. If they get one that is really expensive, then they get less. We try to set a limit of how much we spend so that it stays fair even though the kids are still too young to understand what price is.
• United States
15 Dec 10
I don't go by price.. I go by how much I think the child will enjoy that gift. I mean, a $100 pair of shoes is expensive.. but that would not be a really great gift for my 4 year old.. he'd still want the same number of gifts as his siblings even though I spent so much on sneakers. But my 13 year old would appreciate a $100 pair of sneakers, he'd be excited by them and wouldn't mind if his siblings got more gifts than him that were cheaper. I have never thought about how much money I spend on the kids. I don't set a limit. I just buy gifts until I'm certain they'll be pleased on Christmas morning.
• Canada
19 Dec 10
My mother always put a budget aside for each of it, and divided our gifts as we wanted them. If my sister wanted a couple of things that would add up to her budget, she'd get them, if I wanted one thing that cost the entire budget, I'd get one thing, but the value of the gifts we'd get would be equal, even if the number wasn't. Now as an adult, I've asked Mom for cash. This is easier, because it's more useful for me. For example, I'm using this year's gift to buy my husband and I train tickets to Montreal.