Tag Archives: gift giving

smartmom christmas gift budgeting

Christmas Gift Budgeting: How much should you spend?

Photo by Ariele Alasko

Whether you’re a First Time Mom or veteran with three of more, budgeting your Christmas spending can be difficult.  You want to buy your child something special to show them how much you love them, but you don’t want break the bank.  We asked our SmartMom contributors how they decided to budget their spending this Christmas.  Take a look!

“My budget changes every year and I work hard to keep my spend for each of my kids around the same level. My kids each get one big item each year and then a few smaller gifts. I also limit how many things they can ask Santa for (no more than four). I’m a big bargain hunter, so I tend to watch the sales and specials like a hawk. When I see a good deal for one of the “big” items, I snap it up. The biggest item out of the three helps me set the spending limit with a little cushion for the smaller items.”

Angela Moore

“I always aim for quality over quantity for gifts — so your kids get three presents from us (a “big” gift, a toy and one other present), a stocking and a present from Santa. In deciding how much to spend, we always spend about the same amount on both kids — and then budget based on what our finances allow.”

Sarah Caron

“This year was cheap and easy for us! Our son is only four months old, so our list consisted of necessities and just a few fun, educational toys and books. Most of what we’re getting is stuff we would have bought anyway, like cloth diapers and clothes, but this way we get to watch him tear open the wrapping first!”

Christina Maki

“Our kids each get three gifts: Something they want, something they need, and something to be treasured (like a daddy/daughter date night, or a special homemade gift.) As far as how much money we spend- that totally depends on the year. For example, last year my husband was unemployed, so we spent next to nothing on Christmas gifts because we had next to nothing. However this year we’re living more comfortably and can afford to spend a little more. I think the key is trying to live within your means. Kids are so much fun to shop for, and it’s hard to stop once you’ve started! There are so many amazing sales going on this time of year and I just can’t resist a good deal! My advice? Snag things while they’re marked down, and then put them away to use as birthday presents! It saves money in the long run!”

Jamie Younker

“Our three children, ages four, three, and one, already have so much–toys practically spill out of their playroom.  Our theme for Christmas this year is simplicity.  I’ve come to learn that little ones really don’t need much to be happy.  This year, each child gets a total of five gifts; three from mom and dad and two from Santa with each gift costing around $10-$15.”

Nicolette McKinlay

“First we look at our budget – how things went for the year and how much we have to spend. When our kids were younger (infant and toddler) we spent less and bought more general toys and books (fewer of them). Now that they are Kindergarten and elementary school age, they have more specific interests, and we try to plan ahead and get significant gifts. Sometimes we try to spread it out and start in the earlier fall months so we aren’t spending a lot in just one month.”

Andrea Newell


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7 Tips for New Parents to Simplify Christmas

7 Tips for New Parents to Simplify Christmas

Photo by Sarah Winthrop

There’s no doubt that baby’s first Christmas is special – everything is fresh and new. And having an addition in the family inspires new parents to start new traditions.  But it is important for new parents to simplify Christmas.

See, here’s the thing: as a parent, baby’s first Christmas is a little magical. But for your baby? Well, truth be told, it’s just another day. Don’t worry – the magic, thrill and excitement will come as they get older.  But this year, amid sheer exhaustion and diaper changes, simplifying your Christmas will make it great without adding stress.

1. Keep Presents for Baby to a Minimum

Honestly, I would love for that to read, “Don’t buy presents for your baby!” but I know how hard that can be to wrap your head around. So, instead, keep them to a minimum and think age-appropriate and need. Newborns don’t need much (other than love, food, diapers and cuddles), so a cute outfit, special wall hanging or painting or stack or board books for when they are a little older is really enough.

2. Decorate Less

Of course you want your tree (unless you are in a New York apartment – then it’s debatable). But the huge lighted scene outside, a candle in every window and garland and wreaths galore? When your child or children are older, they will love the festivity of it all – but this year, less is more. Remember – every decoration you put up has to be put away. With a baby in tow.

3. Accept Help

Whether it’s assistance with wrapping your presents, watching the baby so you can shower (and maybe go shopping) or something else, accepting help with your holiday to-dos is a smart simplifying move.

4. Take Advantage of Online Services

From card-order services that will also mail your holiday cards to online shopping, the web is filled with helping hands that will take some of the holiday pressure off you. Just say yes.

5. Take a Zillion Photos

While you don’t need to buy your baby tons of presents and decorations that can be seen from space, you should take as many photos as you can. Someday, your baby will love seeing photos of their first Christmas – and you will too.

6. Keep Food Easy 

If you are in charge of food (or bringing something!), don’t go crazy. Instead, stick to quick and easy recipes that you can prepare during naps – or just order from a fab place.

7. Celebrate at Home

Instead of packing baby up – along with all her gear and goods – plan a quieter Christmas at home. You can invite the family to join you, or celebrate as your little new family. Either way, it will be awesome.


Traditions are important and they don’t have to be overcomplicated. Here are some ideas!

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