How Many Presents Do I Get my Child for Christmas?

Do excessive Christmas gifts and spending cause you stress? Read our article to find out how many presents you should give your child this Christmas.
Amabel Polglase
November 28, 2022
min read
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It’s the time of year when children are excitedly writing their Christmas lists, while parents are beginning to ask fellow mums and dads, how many presents do you get your child for Christmas? 

If previous years' present numbers have left you fighting for floor space or overwhelmed with discarded wrapping paper, you may be wondering if you’ve gone too far. With the cost of living increasing and sustainability becoming more of a priority for families, it’s wise to be considerate about how many gifts we buy for children at Christmas. 

The days of excessive spending at Christmas may be coming to an end. Make this year the year you reel in your spending and think less about how many presents to give your child this Christmas and more about what presents you buy.

Spending at Christmas 

Most families spend more at Christmas. The Bank of England reported that we spend on average almost £740 more in December, which is 29% more than in a typical month. Can you make your monthly household budget stretch that far?

In the UK, the average spend on Christmas presents was around £548 in 2021. That’s without the added expense of food, travel, parties, and other festive activities. You can save money by gifting meaningfully. Buy presents that are useful or needed to avoid waste and excess. You don’t want your present to sit at the back of a cupboard for months, you want it to be enjoyed.

Some parents will argue that they can spend as much as they want to on their children, which is true. However, money and materialism don’t always equal happiness.

How to choose how many presents to get your child at Christmas

If you’re struggling to think of ways to decide how many presents to get your child for Christmas, there are a few methods that may help you. These popular methods will help keep things fair, keep the peace if you have more than one child, and take away some of the stress caused by Christmas, and, of course, keep your Christmas budget from going off the rails.

Here are some ideas to help you choose how many presents to get your child at Christmas:

The rule of three

Some parents stick to the rule of three when deciding how many presents to get their child for Christmas. That’s how many the baby Jesus got after all. The rule of three gifts originates from the bible story when the three wise men gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

Whether your reason for choosing this gifting method is religious or not, the rule of three gives gifts a special meaning. Parents may choose to give three more substantial gifts rather than several smaller, less expensive ones.

The 4-gift rule

The 4-gift rule is a great way to spend less at Christmas, but it also teaches your children to be appreciative and understand minimalism and sustainability. The 4 gift-rule means you buy 4 gifts that fit into these categories:

1. Something they want. This can be anything that was on their Christmas list or a gift they have wanted for a long time.

2. Something they need. Does your child have something that has seen better days? Give them a replacement for something they need.

3. Something to wear. You could buy them a pair of new pyjamas, shoes, or a backpack for school.

4. Something to read. Reading is a great way for kids to learn. Choose a magazine, comic book, fiction, or activity book to keep them busy.

You can read more on the 4-gift rule[SY1] .

Give a gift of experience

Today, many people buy gifts for their children all year round. This means some kids already have material items such as phones, tablets, or game consoles. This year, try giving the gift of an experience as their main gift. Although this could be more expensive, a great experience together could mean more than hundreds of gifts.

Making memories together adds a special meaning and will give them lifelong memories to treasure. Choose an experience that suits your budget, such as buying a holiday or a weekend trip, theatre tickets or a fun outdoor activity.  

Quality vs quantity

Building on the idea of giving an experience as a gift, try thinking about the quality of your gifts this year. Quality over quantity is used in so many areas of life because it’s true. Buying from sustainable brands is an easy way to reduce your impact on the climate this Christmas as well as support smaller independent brands. You could spend more on better quality items that will last rather than multiple cheaper gifts that encourage a throwaway society.

Before you purchase a Christmas gift for your child ask yourself:

·   Will this gift last?

·   Am I buying this gift for the sake of it?

·   Is this gift within my budget?

·   Is this gift sustainable?

·   Do they already own something similar?

How much should I spend on each child at Christmas?

If you have multiple children or a big family, it can be hard to know how much to spend on each child at Christmas. You need to be fair, but also stick to a budget and buy age-appropriate gifts. In 2020, UK Fundraising stated that the average person spent £420 on their children at Christmas, which is a lot of money and isn’t realistic for many families. 

There are various methods you can use to help you choose the right amount per child.

Family traditions

Does your family always go to a certain place or buy something specifically for each other every year?

Choose the right gift

You should focus on getting the right gift for each child that’s within your budget. To keep everyone happy, you could get each child matching pyjamas or sweet treats they love, so they don’t feel left out and know they have all had the same allocation.


Set a Christmas spending budget and stick to it. Christmas shouldn’t be about how much you spend, but the thought behind the gift. A budget will help you to keep your spending in check and help you avoid getting into debt.


Saving a little each month for Christmas will build up a healthy Christmas fund, so your budget is already covered. Saving for Christmas means you’ll spend less and help you live within your means. You can use the HyperJar Christmas preparation planner to help you plan Christmas down to the very last bauble.

Set a budget to organise your Christmas gift list

The cost-of-living crisis, rising energy bills and general uncertainty in the world right now are causing families to rethink their Christmas budgets. It’s not really about how many presents a child should get for Christmas, but what you can afford. Setting a budget can help you organise your Christmas spending and help keep your finances under control.

·   Stick to the rule of 3 or the 4-gift rule. This makes it easier to decide which presents to get and takes off some of the pressure.

·   Take your total budget for Christmas and split this between each family member, allocating the same amount for each child.

·   HyperJar’s app is a free and simple way to make this budgeting method as easy as possible. You can split your money into separate jars for each child so you can keep track of what’s been spent on who.

Final festive thoughts

When all’s said and done, how many gifts you purchase for your child at Christmas is entirely your choice. Although it can’t hurt to make more informed decisions to help keep costs reasonable. It’s an expensive time of year, and it’s easy to get carried away. Giving gifts is a great feeling, but it’s even better when you know it’s a gift they will love.

If you found this article interesting, we have lots of great money management articles on our blog, including family budgeting, savings for Christmas and living within your means.

Amabel Polglase

Chief Marketing Officer

Amabel has diverse experience in business, marketing and entrepreneurship, including founding her own successful startup. She served in several senior leadership roles prior to joining HyperJar including Zilch and Curve Card where she led brand, marketing and communications. Before joining the fintech revolution, Amabel was a managing global client partner at Facebook and prior to that at McCann-Erickson, the world’s largest ad network. She volunteers at Girls Out Loud, a charity created to empower and inspire teenage girls, and is also a mentor at The Girls’ Network. She received her MA in history and international relations from the University of St Andrews.

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