Family Activities

Can You Reduce Christmas Spending On Toys This Year?

You don’t need to overspend to ensure your kids have a great Christmas. This helpful guide gives you tips on how to reduce how much money you spend on toys with advice about:

  • When and where to buy children’s Christmas presents
  • How many presents children should receive
  • Think about the age of the children
  • Quality over quantity

Christmas is important for the toy industry with over a third of all toys purchased in the UK being given as presents at this celebration, and it is worth an estimated £1.1 billion in sales. But what can you do if you’re on a budget but still wish to spoil your kids and make their Christmas as memorable as possible? We have some advice and tips so that your spending on gifts for children doesn’t mean you ending up in debt into the New Year to pay for it all.

When and where to buy children’s Christmas presents

Although we always moan that Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year, it makes sense to spread your purchases over a few months rather than buying all your children’s presents in December. The other advantage of starting earlier is that sales and special offers for toys usually stop in the run-up to Christmas. If you still aren’t sure what your kids will want, make a start by buying their stocking fillers. A few small things every week won’t strain your budget.

61% of toys are chosen by the giver and weren't on the kid's Christmas list

According to the Toy Retailers Association, Britons buy 38% of their toys online. This is a good way to economise especially if you can use promo codes and coupons or take advantage of Cyber Monday. Although you might dislike the idea of buying second-hand toys at Christmas, you’ll be able to pick up some bargains. Many toys that you’ll find in this way might be unwanted presents so will be in mint condition and still in their boxes. Other gifts like bikes can be repainted and/or customised for a few pounds to make them look as good as new.

How many presents should children receive?

There’s no answer to this question, but the most important thing isn’t the number of gifts but to draw up a budget before you start. It’s very easy to get carried away when you hit the stores and see something that you know your kids would love. The attitude of ‘never-mind-it’s-Christmas’ can result in your massively overspending.

Before you shop, guide your children when they’re writing their Christmas wish list. Whatever their age, they have to have realistic expectations, and it’s never too early to speak to them honestly and openly about financial matters. After all, you don’t want them to turn into the kind of adults who spend lavishly on their own enjoyment without thinking of the consequences, do you? Depending on your budget, you might decide that one or two large gifts are sufficient and the rest should consist of inexpensively-priced gifts in their stocking.

A young child in a Christmas hat is holding a cuddly toy

Also, don’t forget that your children will probably receive other presents under the tree from relatives. If you can’t afford everything on their list, why not ask grandparents or aunts/uncles to help out by clubbing together to buy one of the more expensive presents on their wish list?

Give your imagination free rein with their stocking fillers

Often parents feel guilty about not being able to give their children everything they want at Christmas. Rest assured – you are most definitely not alone. Research by the Toy Retailers Association has found that 61% of toys are chosen by the giver and weren’t on the kid’s Christmas list.

Often classic board games are a much better buy than battery-operated toys which are often more easily damaged.

If you do feel bad about not being able to afford everything on their list, give yourself the challenge of filling their stocking with a variety of inexpensive gifts that they’ll love. Chocolates, practical jokes, fun socks, art and crafts materials, small puzzles and ‘gift certificates’ for family activities or trips later in the year all make ideal stocking fillers which will give your kids hours of fun and entertainment. Sometimes as parents we forget that children’s enjoyment isn’t based on price alone.

Think about the age of children

The temptation is to overspend on very young children even when they aren’t really old enough to understand what all the fuss is about. Rein yourself in when buying for very young kids. You’ll probably find that they’ll get as much enjoyment out of the wrapping paper and the boxes they come in as they do out of the contents.

A Christmas tree with wrapped gifts underneath next to a decorated fireplace

However, did you know that too many toys can hinder a young child’s development? Researchers from the University of Toledo carried out an experiment on toddlers aged 18-30 months old giving them either 4 or 16 toys to play with. They found that those given fewer toys spent more time in creative and imaginative play than the other group who seemed to be distracted by too many toys.

Quality over quantity

Every year toy manufacturers carry out blanket advertising campaigns aimed at kids in the run-up to Christmas. Instead of blindly buying everything on your kid’s Christmas list and succumbing to ‘pester power’, think about the value of the toys in terms of hours of enjoyment. Often classic board games are a much better buy than battery-operated toys which are a current craze and are often more easily damaged. The main benefit of traditional games is that they can be played by the whole family. All many kids want is more of their parents’ attention and fewer presents which involve solitary play.

Apart from family board games, think about toys which encourage creative or role play. These help to stimulate young brains and communicative skills. If you’re short of money, you can add a DIY element to these toys. For example, you don’t need to buy the whole toy supermarket boxed kit, just purchase a toy till and plastic money. Then you can save old food containers and make your child their own ‘shop’.

Conclusion – Christmas on a budget

It’s a mistake to think that spending less because you’re on a budget means that Christmas will be less enjoyable for children. Half of the fun is opening presents and spending quality time with the family. According to 2017 research, parents spend an average of £121 per child up to the age of 11 although some studies put the price tag as high as £300-£400. You don’t need to spend this kind of money on your children especially if it means going into debt to pay for it.

About the author

Faith Hastings

Faith is a proud mother of three and runs a busy home. She has a lot of experience in housefold finance and loves to write articles for familymoney.co.uk

Faith enjoys shopping, travelling and spending time with her family.

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