How much to spend on family / in-laws for Christmas?

Hi all – how much do you normally spend on family and in-laws for Christmas? How do you decide what the “right number” is? In general, how big of a tradition is gift-giving in your families? My family generally prefers gifts that are more practical in nature, or can be a positive experience for the family (e.g. nice holiday dinner, Broadway show, etc.). In the past few years, here’s what I’ve done. Lower end if I don’t have employment (i.e. in business school); more if the job and economy are doing well. If I have any doubts about whether I should be spending more or less, I typically spend towards the higher end since I have more peace of mind this way. Parents – $125-200 each (more if my siblings and I decide to get in on a “joint” gift like a new computer, new furniture, etc.) Siblings – $70-125 each Brother-in-law – recent development, no precedent, not sure what’s appropriate

Personally, I think it’s a gesture of good faith to spend about the same on a “new” family member as you would on a blood sibling. Your ranges seem appropriate to me and are about the same as what I aim to spend, but I’m sure it depends on the family. It helps that I have a small family.

I’m lucky to have in laws who are all fairly broke (retired teachers, aspiring puppeteers, aspiring rock star …). So we have a Kris Kringle every year with a 30 dollar limit (I only need to buy 1 person 1 $30 present). The only problem is what do you get an aspiring puppeteer with $30. These types of people are impossible to shop for. I’ll usually get the dad a nice bottle of Scotch as well since we both like to enjoy a good drop over the Christmas season.

^Aspiring Puppeteer? Awesome, I love puppets! I mean, I used to like them a lot. I still do.

Don’t say cheapo, it’s just being a family value investor.

I disagree. Also, you didn’t answer any of my questions. Christmastime has more importance to our family for cultural and religious reasons. I get gifts for family at various times during the year just because I feel like it.

Do people usually spend more than $500-1000 on Christmas excluding their significant other? I think people in my family would be embarrassed if I spent that much on them outside of a time of real need. I guess it varies.

I think he was being sarcastic. Your budget seems super generous to me. Your budget for each parent is about my budget for my wife (but I’m married with kids, mortgage, etc, so not a young baller like yourself any more).

Got it – missed the sarcasm. Yeah, I think my decision process would be quite different if I had a mortgage and kids to support. Generally I don’t want to be seen as stingy so if it means spending a bit more than what I was comfortable with (even while I was in business school), I was OK with that too. I also don’t really buy Christmas gifts for anyone outside my family with the exception of a serious girlfriend. It seems like girls are much more into gift-giving among their girl friends and bff’s or whatever, but a similar comparable doesn’t seem to exist for guys at least from what I’ve seen.

I think it’s possible if they have two or more kids, or if there is a bigger gift that is “needed” such as a computer, for example. BTW, anyone here watching the post-game show for Monday Night Football? There’s something rather festive about the Titans cheerleaders dancing in their Santa outfits. In other news, the Jets offense really sucks.

i think your ranges are very generous. I wouldn’t spend that much on gifts personally because our family doesn’t celebrate christmas, but it’s fun to get small gifts for the holidays. For us the holidays are just times to get together and eat a lot of food. Your estimate for your parents is what I would spend on my girlfriend, who is also not observant. I usually estimate what the recipient will likely spend on my gift and reciprocate. Of course, if you’re having a very good year, it’s great to give the family a nice surprise but I wouldn’t do it every year or lead them to believe it will be recurring. You also don’t want to be that guy who gets baller gifts every year and forces ‘gift-inflation’ on people who might not be able to keep up with you. Would also recommend you spend the same amount on the in-law as your sibling, given you’re on good terms.

I just text my brother, “Hey bro, you OK? Hope everything is good, have fun.”, and call my dad. He’s a man of few words so the whole process takes less than five minutes. I don’t give them anything. Wifey manages Christmas gifts and notes, and the tab goes over $1K. Totally disagree every year with that practice. Never win that argument.

I only buy 1 gift and that’s for my mom. Which I still haven’t bought for this year. Probably try to spend $100 or less.

Hint: do not let them find out about your super-sized bonus, wifey joyfully told everyone my bonus was more than most people’s annual salary and now I’m screwed. Amounts vary by culture too, over here giving dad $1000 USD during the holidays is not uncommon. It’s expected of the children. Back in the states it was more like $50-100 for parents. Heck, my Korean buddy bought his parents a Ford Explorer last year.