How Much Should You Spend On Birthday Presents?

How Much Should You Spend on Birthday Presents?

Most of our family birthdays happen from January to March. I could and used to literally go broke trying to buy everyone a present. I think if you’ve always given gifts, people develop the expectation that you’ll continue to do so. As we started to get out of debt, that pretty much cut out gift giving, especially for adults. Now that our finances are in better shape, we could go back to our old ways, but that seems a bit counter productive. Regardless of your financial situation, how much should you spend on birthday presents?

Kid Birthday Gifts

Our daughter will be turning 8 at the end of this month. We have always given her gifts for her birthday, although none of them have ever been that expensive. I hope she never reads this, but we’ve actually kept back things other relatives sent for Christmas and gave them to her for her birthday.

Our kid is funny. I credit part of it to not having regular TV. She never sees commercials and has no idea about many of the popular toys out right now. She asks for art supplies, a kite, ear muffs, some very odd things. This year, she wants (surprise, surprise) an Elsa doll that Santa couldn’t find at Christmas. At least we own stock in Walt Disney!

I’m also a little ashamed to admit that we are considering giving her a tablet or computer. I am not one for kids having all kinds of gadgets, but she is to the point where there are some legitimate school programs that would be cool to access on a home computer.

One of my biggest regrets from my youth is that I never learned a foreign language. We’ve talked about taking Spanish lessons online, and she seems excited. I wouldn’t make it a chore, but if she’s interested in learning and we can find the right program, I think it would be worth the investment. I’ve never spent that much on a kid birthday present, but it might be time.

We also make sure to send gifts to our nieces and nephews, which cost around $25 each.

Total Kid Gifts= $100 per year on nieces/nephews with another niece arriving in August. This year maybe $200 for our daughter or $30 if we only go with the Elsa doll.

Family Birthday Presents

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think adults need gifts just because it’s a holiday. For my birthday this year, I asked for and received nothing. Getting nothing means more money for our spring and summer trips, and that is exactly what I wanted.

We don’t buy gifts for most of our family. We generally give our in-laws gift cards. I give my parents homemade cards from our daughter because they don’t need or want anything other than knowing we remembered them. This year, my sister and I did buy Mom some new bar stools. She will buy a new car every 4 years, but apparently can only do furniture every 20 years or so. We thought we’d help her out because her current seats are way off balance and are becoming a danger with the small grandchildren.

Jim’s birthday gift this year was a pair of shoes he purchased himself, so see, I’m not opposed to gifts in general. I just don’t believe in giving a gift for the sake of giving a gift.

Total Adult Family Gifts=$300, high this year because of the bar stools

How Much Should You Spend on Birthday Gifts?

Friend Gifts

I don’t buy birthday gifts for friends. I might give them a bottle of wine or bake cookies. Sometimes I do take a friend out for a birthday lunch if the timing works out. My close friends appreciate that I’m frugal and they don’t expect to exchange gifts.

Total Friend Gifts= Maybe $20

How Much I Spend On Birthday Gifts In a Year

It’s only March, but I pretty much know our annual birthday gift spending will be between $450-$620. It seems like a lot of money, especially if we go with the more expensive gift for our daughter, but I’m not sure how to lower the total unless we leave out a niece or nephew. Which one do we like the least? Just kidding!

How much do you spend on birthday gifts in a year? Is an 8 year old ready to have a computer?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. Last year for my daughters 16th honestly we spent about 23,000.00 for her car a small 2015 Scion tC and about 2700.00 in clothes make up and other small items. We had her party catered at home for around 1200.00 but she is an only child. Works hard and well behaved. 17 th birthday soon spending around3000.00 Mac book pro, close, make up, shoes and a Mk hand bag she asked for plus we are renting a plantation so she can have friends stay over. I do go a little over board but she’s my one and only.

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