Whoever said it’s easier to give than receive probably didn’t have to grapple with a 20 point gift list, just a few weeks before the big day. If you’re struggling to manage your family’s expectations, try out a few of these tips…
Draw up a fair budget, limit the list and try to stick to it
Rather than give in to crazy Christmas list or Birthday list ideas, set a clear budget, and leave the number of gifts up to the kids. You could insist on one big gift, and a few little ones, or set some of the budget aside as a cash gift.
If you have more than one child, try to set the same amount of money aside for both of them. Also, if you’re co-parenting, try to agree with the other parent on a set limit too.
If you think your child is old enough to talk about the costs of presents, you could even put a price beside each prezzie. If they’re a bit young for that, just explain that some things are more expensive than others. A new Xbox controller or a set of football boots might be a good single entry, but a pony could cost more than everyone’s presents put together!
If your children are too young to think about present prices, just make it clear that you’re in charge. Though children don’t like to be told ‘no’, they also feel assured when parents are clearly in charge. Maye just explain that they can’t have everything. You’ll have to teach them to know their limits at some point, and birthdays might not be a bad time to do it.
Remember: kids change their minds.
Plenty of kids start thinking about Christmas and birthday presents months in advance, and often change their minds. Friends might get interested in a different sport or activity, they might see something new on social media, or they might just outgrow the stuff they were once into.
Feel free to talk to your kids about what they want weeks or months before the big day, but remember that they may change their mind. Agree on something too early, and they may have changed by the time they get to unwrap their gifts. Instead, check and update a list just before you buy something, to ensure they still want it.
You could set a hard deadline, and, if it’s for Christmas, you could get them to write a list to Santa on that day, explaining that there’s no changing their mind after the letter is in the post!
Talk about why they might want to drop a gift or two
There are some presents that are obviously going to be useful, such as a new bike for a kid mad about cycling, or a new ballet outfit for a keen dancer, but there are other things kids put on lists that parents suspect may end up just collecting dust.
If you think your child doesn’t really need some crazy electric scooter, a 3D printer or a VR headset, then talk to them about why they want something, and what they think they’ll do with it. Would they drop other things from their list for it? It’ll help them (and you) suss out how much they really want it.
If there’s a big gift, get other people to help
Some relatives like to give cash, while some like to give the money to cover a present for a niece or nephew. With Rooster Money, grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians and friends can all add cash into the parent account, that you could use to contribute towards gifts. If there’s something pricey on a gift list, ask other people to contribute. With NatWest Rooster Money you can share your Parent Account account number and sort code, so they can pay it in, or if they’re making regular payments, you can add another person to your parent account by following this guide.
You can see how much different relatives tend to give to children in our Pocket Money Index.
And if it’s a big gift and you know the price, and are eager for your child to contribute from their pocket money, you could set up a pot for it.
If it doesn’t work, you can often return gifts
You can usually tell pretty quickly whether or not a child really likes a present. Sometimes, hanging onto receipts or packaging can be worth it. If something isn’t quickly opened, it’s often a sign they’re not going to use it.
Remember: most retailers need their stuff back in a good, saleable condition, which means the packaging needs to be intact.
If you can keep an unwanted toy, game or other gift in its box, then you can probably get your money back.
Amazon tends to offer a 30-day refund period from the date of purchase; Argos has a 30 day returns period; The Entertainer has a 28 day returns period; Smyths Toys also offers 28 days; Hamleys has a whopping 60 days return period; and the shoe retailer Schuh offers a whole year!* And even if you miss the returns period, read our parents and kids’ guide to online reselling. Or, maybe they could swap with a sibling or friend.
*We checked these return periods on 11/11/2022. Every effort was made to ensure these return dates are accurate, though please check with your retailer.
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