• Gift Exchanges
  • Oct 4, 2022
  • 4 min read

How Much Should You Spend on Christmas and Other Special-Occasion Gifts

  • The history of gift giving goes back thousands of years. It was practiced by many ancient cultures, including the Romans and the Celtics. The Romans swapped gifts with one another during the Saturnalia holiday, while Celtic druids would cut mistletoe and distribute it to people. Fast forward to modern times and gift giving is practiced around the world every day, for a broad range of reasons. Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and many other special events are all occasions for gift giving. When buying a gift for someone, it's important to consider your budget and how much you should spend. In this blog post, we will highlight how much to spend on Christmas gifts and gifts for many other occasions. Let's get started.

    Christmas Gifts

    Since 1870, Christmas has been a federal holiday in the United States. It is a special day where loved ones and friends share presents with one another. It can, of course, be an expensive holiday, given the need to buy presents for a number of people. It's a good idea to contribute to your Christmas savings fund throughout the year, rather than waiting until December to budget for the gifts you will need to buy. Generally, 1% of your yearly income is an acceptable maximum for Christmas gifts. According to Bankrate, for your partner, a budget of approximately $100 is acceptable, though this will depend on a range of factors such as your age and income. For individual family members, a budget of $50 is recommended. In cases where families or groups of friends participate in Secret Santa, a budget of between $25 and $40 is acceptable. $10 is acceptable when buying gifts for extended family members, such as cousins. For coworkers, according to TechRepublic, aim to spend around $10 to $20, as is for your broader social circle. With most people, it's really the thought that counts, rather than the monetary value of the gift. Before we move on from Christmas, there's one other group that we couldn't leave out: pets! According to OneVet, the vast majority of pet owners buy at least 1 gift for their pet. Most people spend between $1 and $50 on their fluffy friends.

    Birthday Days

    Whereas Christmas gifts all come at once, birthdays are spread out over the course of the year. According to Reviewed, you should budget $100 for your own children's birthday gifts. For other children, $25 is seen as the right amount, though you can spend up to $100 if buying for the child of a relative or close friend. For a work colleague, if you are buying them a present, the average spend is less than $20, according to a Google Consumer Survey. As we have already highlighted, these are average estimates and your own personal financial situation may mean you prefer to spend less or more (again, it's the thought that counts).


    Gifts are an important part of attending (or organizing) a wedding. Weddings are generally big-budget events, so it's helpful to have an idea of how much you should be spending on gifts. If you attend a bridal shower, it's good to bring along a present for the bride-to-be. Here, a budget of between $50 to $75 is acceptable, according to Brides.com. If you are very close to the bride-to-be, you may wish to spend a little more (around $100). For the wedding gift to the happy couple, according to The Knot, the average guest spends around $120. Of course, the closeness of the relationship will play a role here. Guests who are closer spend an average of $130, the same amount a family member buying a gift typically pays. If you are organizing a wedding, it's important to show your appreciation for the people who helped you out. Gifts for the Maid of Honor and Best Man should be worth around $75 to $100. For the other bridesmaids and groomsmen, spending $40 to $75 is acceptable. For other people who helped out during the wedding, such as close family members, consider a budget of $15 to $30 each to show your appreciation. Finally, wedding favor gifts to the attendees should be budgeted at around $5 (or less) each. This is simply a nice touch to say thanks for coming.

    Other Gifts During the Year

    Outside of Christmas, birthdays, and weddings, there are a number of occasions when it is normal to give a gift. For example, according to MoneyTamer, graduation gifts for children from parents should be between $100 and $300. For other relatives, aim for between $50 and $100. For children of family friends, a budget of $20 and $50 is acceptable, while you can spend between $10 and $20 on other acquaintances. For Mother's and Father's Day gifts, it will really depend on your own age and financial means. According to Good Housekeeping, the average consumer spends around $60 on their own mother's gift each year, while $65 is spent on wives or partners. A retirement gift, depending on how close you are to the retiree, should be generally between $50 and $100. When co-workers are pulling funds together to purchase a gift, consider giving $10 to $20. We've already mentioned bridal showers, but what about baby showers? For a close relative, a good budget is $150 and can be considerably less depending on how well you know the person. For Valentine's Day, the average amount spent in the United States is $142, as reported by CNBC. This number is highest among those aged between 40 and 55, while men typically far outspend women on this day ($249 to $57). For an anniversary gift to your spouse, a budget of around $100 is acceptable.

    How Much to Spend on Christmas Gifts and Others?

    The above information highlights how to budget for gifts throughout the year. From holiday gift-giving to birthdays and more, it's important to avoid spending either too little or too much. This blog post will help you to understand how much to spend on Christmas gifts and others during the year. When it comes to gifts, GiftList is your premier choice. We allow you to create a gift list, add items from any site, and easily share your list with friends and family who can then reserve items on your list. We also have a host of other great features, such as group gift exchanges, a shop of recommended items, free digital e-cards, occasion tracking for special moments, and gift management and tracking tool. Click here to learn more about how it all works. Happy gift giving!