The Average American Parent Would Spend Up to $173 on a Single Holiday Gift for Their Kid

A family opening gifts on Christmas morning.

Image source: Getty Images

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Would you spend the same?

Key points

  • Many parents would love to treat their kids to everything on their wish list.
  • It's important not to bust your holiday budget on a single gift.

The holiday season is now upon us, and that means parents everywhere are desperately running to stores and searching online in an effort to find gifts for their children. Of course, that general frenzy isn't particularly unique to 2021. But what is different this year is some products aren't so easily available. We can thank supply chain bottlenecks for that.

Not only may some of your children's most wanted items be harder to find this year, but you may also end up having to spend more money on them. Normally, it's fairly easy to shop around for discounts during the holidays. But when popular items run out and getting them is a priority, it's easy to forget about money and focus on just procuring the gifts your kids want the most.

But how much should you be willing to spend on a single gift? It depends on your budget and what you can afford.

You may be surprised to learn the average U.S. consumer is willing to spend up to $173 on a single holiday gift for their child, according to a recent CouponFollow survey. The question is: What limit should you set for a single gift?

Running the numbers

Avoiding debt in the course of the holidays is all about crunching the right numbers and setting priorities. If you're not sure what maximum per-gift limit to set this year, first figure out how much money you can afford to spend on the holidays in total.

Maybe you have $500 from your paychecks to allocate to the holidays, another $500 from a year-end bonus, and $500 you can comfortably pull from your savings account. If so, it wouldn't necessarily be unreasonable to spend up to $173 on a single gift -- especially if you only have one child.

That said, once you've come up with a total spending budget for the holidays, you'll need to make a list of priorities. Getting your kids the top items on their wish lists may be more important to you than sending out holiday cards or buying the biggest tree this year. Establish that order and then see where it takes you. You may find that you can swing more than $173 for a single gift -- or that you need to limit yourself to much less.

Of course, the amount you spend on a single gift should also hinge on how many you're buying in total. Sometimes, younger children tend to appreciate quantity over quality. It's hard to explain to a 4-year-old they're only getting one gift this year because you splurged on a $100 train set. But if you have a pre-teen who's been begging for a new $200 gaming system, and that's the only thing that child gets, they may be more than happy with it.

Be careful with your holiday spending

You may be tempted to stretch your budget (or even bust it) to give your children the things they've been hoping for this holiday season. But before you do, think about how going overboard might hurt your family during the year.

If you land in debt during the holidays, you may be forced to cut back on other expenses during the year to dig your way out of it. That could mean telling your kids they can't continue their dance lessons or martial arts classes. Or, it could mean having to cut back on smaller but more frequent treats for your kids they enjoy throughout the year, like trips to the ice cream shop or takeout meals from their favorite restaurants.

That's why it really pays to stick to your holiday budget -- even if it means not being able to buy your kids every item they want. While some parents may be in a position to spend up to $173 on a single gift this year, that may not be your situation -- and that's okay.

Do your best to make the holidays as fun and festive as possible. Chances are, your kids will look back on those days and remember the good times -- not the specific items they unwrapped.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert