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Cupcake's avatar

Birthday Presents: How much do you spend on your kids?

Asked by Cupcake (11578 points ) September 28th, 2010

I’m curious what most people spend.

Also, I have a soon-to-be 14 year old son and don’t know what to do for his birthday.

He wants an iPod Touch or a netbook computer. I’d rather give him money towards his trip to Costa Rica next spring (logical but very unexciting as a present).

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26 Answers

Trillian's avatar

How does he plan to pay for the trip? Could you maybe get him something less expensive and the additional amount into a savings account?

Cupcake's avatar

@Trillian He’s doing fundraising through school. He has given me about half of his lawn-mowing earnings, etc. to total around $300 so far.

How much do you spend on birthdays?

isuppose's avatar

I’m not a parent, but mine spend about 200 or so dollars on me for my birthday. That’s if I ask for cash, if there’s something nice I want, they’ll usually get it for me if it’s under 400 dollars.

Cupcake's avatar

Wow @isuppose, your parents are very generous! Before I got married, $100 was an extravagant year. It was typically < $50.

Now that I’m married, we’re trying to figure out what the “right” amount is this year.

We don’t want to promote materialism or self-centeredness, but are willing to spend some money for something that is useful and practical (ie. not just entertainment).

Neizvestnaya's avatar

For my stepdaughter and niece then it’s always been $100. in cash unless there’s a specific gift I knew they wanted that pretty much only I would be able to remember or find.

isuppose's avatar

@Cupcake they really are.

YARNLADY's avatar

Children under 12 – $20 Children 12 – 14 $50.00 over 14 $100 adult children $200

Cupcake's avatar

Interesting strategy @YARNLADY

liminal's avatar

We don’t really focus on price point as much as the “perfect item” that supports their interests. This can mean we spend anywhere from 20 dollars to a couple of hundred any given year. Of course, right now, my children are under 14 and not quite aware of the electronics world yet. There interests are more like rock polishing and wood-turning!

As an aside, If he is starting to do trips away from home an ipod touch can acutally become a useful communication and scheduling tool, not just entertainment. It also becomes the sort of gift that can grow with him, you can buy him accessories and itunes cards for future gift buying occasions. It is even something he can use while mowing lawns and to manage the business.

Since he is already working towards his trip and you are obviously concerned about him being balanced I don’t think you need to fear him getting out of whack. Besides, knowing how to relax and enjoy life is a needed skill. How about a gift certificate for a $150 to the online apple store? He can use it for the new ipod nano or save up for an ipod touch on his own? You can present it as “We see you maturing in responsiblity, we hope this helps.”

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks @liminal. He got an ipod nano last year… so I don’t feel right about him getting an ipod touch this year.

You raise good points, though. Thanks again.

liminal's avatar

@Cupcake knowing that, I wouldn’t get him one either! :)

What is the trip to Costa Rica for?

Frenchfry's avatar

Depends on how much money I got. I am lucky my kid is three. She is easy to make happy. She is happy with a card board box.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Frenchfry I miss that age!

We vary in how much we spend. We went through many years where we just didn’t have the money to be extravagant. For the last 3 years we have spent about $150 on each of them. But I think I’m going to start cutting that down as I think they are getting a bit spoiled.

Cupcake's avatar

@liminal It’s a class trip for 9th graders through the foreign language club. There are only ~12 kids going. It’s a really amazing opportunity.

@Frenchfry I miss playing with cardboard boxes… and three year olds!!

@tranquilsea I totally hear where you’re coming from! How old are yours?

SuperMouse's avatar

I am struggling with this issue myself! I like @YARNLADY‘s strategy because it is fairly simple to get a younger child something they will love for < $20. I think at this point I would not go over about $50 for my oldest who will turn 12 his next birthday. That feels very generous to me. That being said, if I were giving him money toward an adventure along the lines of a trip to Costa Rica, I would probably willingly give more.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Cupcake Mine are 15, 13 and 10.

MissAusten's avatar

We probably spend around $100 on gifts for our own kid on his or her birthday. Sometimes a little more, and sometimes a little less. We don’t buy them things when it isn’t their birthday (or Christmas), so when they want something they put it on their “wish list” and we use that to decide what to get them as gifts.

@Cupcake In your particular case, I’d lean toward the netbook computer unless there’s still a very big gap between what he’s earned for the Costa Rica trip and what he needs. You said he already has an iPod, and a computer is a gift with a lot of mileage to it!

Cruiser's avatar

The gift pretty much depends on their wants, their needs and what is within reason cost wise. They know ahead of time there is a set limit/budget so they don’t develop sky’s the limit expectations. Some years it has been a pricey item other years a couple fun games is all they desire. Anything truly off the map cost wise I make them set goals to earn it themselves.

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks guys!

@SuperMouse It seems that once they hit adolescence, their desired gifts grow exponentially in cost!

@MissAusten I agree with you about the benefits of computers. I still need to learn more about netbooks to see if I think that is the way to go.

For two years, I got us tickets for local off-broadway musicals. I think those were my favorite gifts to give him. It was such a fun and memorable shared experience (but then he hit 7th grade and asked me in advance not to do that again). I’ve tended to give “experiences” or needed material items (such as a school music instrument, winter coat, etc.) and leave the electronics giving to the grandparents.

meechee's avatar

When I was growing up we were never given things for our Birthdays or Christmas that we needed. And my Dad never believed in cash…gift cards weren’t a prevalent back then either as they are now.
Now, with my own kids we don’t have as much money as my parents did so we tend to go a little overboard. My kids will use their money though to buy clothes or jackets or shoes that they need so I don’t feel too bad. We spend approximately $250 on each for their BDays and $400 on each for Christmas.

tranquilsea's avatar

@meechee Welcome to Fluther :-)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Cupcake: The iPod Touch is a pretty neat gizmo, I’ve used on and it’s like a tiny computer. I never before believed in getting these types of things for kids until I realized these devices are the books, the encyclopedias, the museums and socializing for them outside of being hustled from school to extracurriculars to home and back again. I suggested my bf he buy one for his oldest kid (16) last Christmas but he ended up buying them for all three kids, the youngest being 11 and all kids reportedly really like them and use them still. He liked it well enough to buy one for himself a few months back. I think the lesser expensive of the two versions is under $200.

sakura's avatar

Too much just spent £70 on new clothes and about £30 on sleepover party for my daughters 12th brthday!! But she dosen’t ask/expect much so I tend to end up spending more… for Christmas she oftne wants suprises!

Sweetpea's avatar

We have a fairly large family, and a lot of siblings and parents and grandparents close to home. Because of this, every time a birthday rolled around, it was a major expense having everyone over for dinner and cake and ice cream. We really didn’t mind, but once our kids got older and they weren’t as excited about big parties, we would give them about $100 toward something they really wanted and we would just have a small birthday dinner for them. For example….my daughter requests a crab-leg dinner each year, and some of the gifts she has picked have been a guitar and a laptop. My son always picks different foods for his birthday dinners, and he has chosen a laptop, a desktop and an Ipod touch.
We have also been fortunate (IMO) in that we have had a family business where the kids could help out and earn a little money through the years.They put some away, tithed some and spent some. This is how my daughter paid for her first year of college.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Here’s what we just did. My SO is divorced and the 3 kids live with their mom so it’s not like they go in together on gifts anymore. We got each kid a gift card of $100. to a clothes store we know they shop in order to make sure they really do get needed clothes instead of spending cash. On top of that each got a stocking stuffer gift of a game and one got a jewelry item under $50.

The kids are each in their teens and I think they have the attitude now that scads of gifts are for little kids and bigger kids get fewer but more tailor picked things.

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