How much do you spend on your spouse at Christmas?
December 15, 2007 3:58 AM   Subscribe

How much do you spend on Christmas presents for your significant other / spouse (don't worry, you can give me a percentage!)

We typically spend about 7% of our combined monthly take-home salary on Christmas presents for each other. I earn less than him, but he spends a little more than me. That's on top of all the other Christmas expenses etc. We set a price limit which seems sensible to us. How much do you spend? Do we spend more or less than the average, I wonder? I think the amount might vary according to income, hence the percentage above - but you can tell me the figure instead if you want.
posted by LyzzyBee to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Zero percent.

For the both of us. Marriage is about teamwork, and building a life together. That life includes houses, travel, businesses, and investments. Much more important places to put money than presents.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:02 AM on December 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

It varies from year to year for us depending on how poor we are feeling (we're both graduate students). Our big Christmas expense each year is flights home to visit family. We spend $600-$1000 each on this, means we have less for gift-giving. This year our gift budget is $100 each, which is about 7% of each of our individual monthly take-home incomes.
posted by sanitycheck at 4:09 AM on December 15, 2007

Ditto. We don't celebrate Christmas.
posted by futility closet at 4:47 AM on December 15, 2007

7% ... That sounds about right to me. But it all really depends on the year and if they want something really really special. (see below for other definition of special)

Also, it's alright that you earn less and he spends more. Girls are hard. Hard means expensive. Guys? You should wake him up with something special...
posted by thetenthstory at 4:49 AM on December 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

About $200 for SWMBO and $50 each for other family members. Our family is kinda cool in that we have an organised present-ring, i.e. we each give and receive only one present of about $50 to a non-immediate family member; it cuts down on the cost and crappy presents dramatically.
posted by polyglot at 4:55 AM on December 15, 2007

About half of that (3.25% of our net monthly income) , because we have two kids who we spend 9.75% on for Xmas. My choice would be 0% because I'm a bah humbug type of person, but this year, he coerced me saying, "the kids really want to get you a gift." Pffft.
posted by b33j at 5:01 AM on December 15, 2007

And bollocks to the "no presents between partners" business being advocated above. Christmas (and I'm about as un-Christian as it's possible to be) is a great excuse to surprise them with something awesome that you know they'd love to have but would never get for themselves.

Choosing stuff that will be useful is boring. Choose something that's special, something they'll never forget. Choose something that in 40 years they'll look back and say, "remember that X you got me?". Choose life.

my apologies to Trainspotting fans
posted by polyglot at 5:03 AM on December 15, 2007 [4 favorites]

We spend about 3.5% of our combined monthly income on each other, and about the same on each of our three kids. This varies from year to year depending on how poor we feel, but we are very frugal all year, so I like to have a little more fun around Christmas.
posted by genefinder at 5:12 AM on December 15, 2007

Agree 100% with polyglot. And because I feel that way, it varies enormously. If I see something she absolutely must have I'll spend whatever it costs -- but she's tough to buy for and I'm stupid that way. And, yes, of course there are more important things in life than presents and the best things in life are free and blah, blah, blah; but let's face it, presents rule.
posted by The Bellman at 5:22 AM on December 15, 2007

Less than 1% of pre-tax monthly income (and no, our monthly income is not high). We buy and do nice things for each other all year long, so there is no real emphasis on Christmas. We use it as a time to say, "what small luxury have you been wanting?" -- sometimes that luxury is practical, sometimes totally useless but nice; either way it is something that the person has been wanting but hasn't wanted to justify putting in the household budget. Sometimes we don't give each other anything, because neither of us really wants anything; other times, we might give a "Christmas" present three months early. All that matters is that you make each other happy -- it's ok to make it up as you go.
posted by Forktine at 5:23 AM on December 15, 2007

Mod note: a few comments removed, there is no way that "don't buy presents" is an answer to this question - metacommentary on the holidays can go to metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:42 AM on December 15, 2007

We are spending about 11% of my monthly gross on the kids, and about 2% each on each other. Although I never could have told you that prior to calculating it to answer this question.
posted by COD at 6:09 AM on December 15, 2007

My husband and I set a limit, usually $50. I know that sounds low, but if you shop smart it goes a long way (neither of us minds gifts found on eBay). Last Christmas Eve we were waiting to go to midnight Mass, and for fun we went to a 24-hour Walgreens and ran around the store trying to find each other the perfect last-minute gift for under $10. It was a blast.

For me, the thought that goes into the gift is more of a consideration than the price tag. For Valentine's Day my husband spent $0 and wrote me a poem, with the promise of a poem each month for the next year. It's one of the best presents I've ever gotten. On the other hand, for our anniversary I probably spent a little too much on basketball tickets for him, since it was something he really wanted. Price isn't so much of a guideline.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:10 AM on December 15, 2007

About 10%, but we have a pretty tight spending regime so Xmas or birthday is the only time to get something bigger. For example, last year my so got an iPod. Normal monthly discretionary spend (without having to talk about it and build a case) is 1%, so at Xmas there is usually an anchor gift and a few books and CDs etc.
posted by bystander at 6:13 AM on December 15, 2007

Oh, and 3 kids have a limit of $100 each. This year Roald Dahl collection, a fire truck and Lego are their key gifts. Again, no toys except birthdays and xmas with the odd exception at a garage sale or if we are on a trip away. Thanks to some intense brainwashing we have cut out McDonalds toys. A proud moment was hearing our 6yro tell her friend "we don't like Happy Meals, we get our toys at the toy store and our food at a restaurant".
posted by bystander at 6:18 AM on December 15, 2007

I spend about $75 for my mom/dad/brother each, about $50 for a few close friends each, and then about $200 on ye olde fiance. He spends about the same.

Many of the people above me sound very responsible and so on. And I certianly advocate responsibility. But for me, Christmas was and will continue to be my parents' favorite holiday and mine as well. I love seeking out neat presents for people that they might not otherwise buy for themselves. For example, the fiance has been lusting over the new Foo Fighters but wouldn't break down and buy it, so that will end up under the tree.

What your spending sounds totally reasonable.
posted by santojulieta at 6:43 AM on December 15, 2007

I'm getting the wife a shirt for Land's End overstock ($15) a scarf ($20) and a murse from muji ($25). She's getting a pretty good haul this year.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2007

I typically try to give my wife things she wants but wouldn't get for herself. We're both not big on spending money on ourselves for the non-necessities. We have joint bank accounts where the majority of the paycheck gets auto-deposited, and then I have a personal account where a smaller amount goes. I sometimes dip into the personal account for things to get for myself, but mostly this is in my mind the "gifts for my wife" account. That way she gets fun things throughout the year (valentine's, birthday, xmas, anniversary). I also make sure it's something she'd really want either by directly discussing it if it's a big item, or taking the hints she drops and researching options if necessary.

So what do I spend? Through-out the year probably $2-3K, with no particular emphasis on anything other than anniversary. Can't say here what she'll get next because she'll probably read it ;)
posted by dereisbaer at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2007

Instead of asking us how much we spend, you might want to see what complements your financial agreement.

We don't share bank accounts, but we pay each other's school debts, own a house together, and save for a common retirement. Money can be a source of disagreement, so we've decided not to spend more than $100 on discretionary purchases without consulting the other. Surprises tend to be modest. Gifts tend to be things we will both enjoy, and any bigger surprise is put in a card as a suggestion. So for us a $10-50 gifts are fine. Sometimes we just say something like: I'd like you to spend more when you buy a winter-coat/ glasses/ etc. This year we just decided to buy a piece of kitchen equipment and to go to a holiday concert. Presents are just less a part of our Christmas these days. Decorating and cooking are more.

If your finances are separate then you kind of have to talk about limits and expectations. My twin buys his wife extravagant gifts because she enjoys surprises. He hates them and can't stand things things that aren't exactly to his liking. He's fussy. All he really cares about is the card and the sentiment. Their compromise: she buys him clothes she'd like to see him wear. He goes all out. Then again he makes more money and enjoys patronizing local artisans and shop owners. She is independent and likes to live in line with what she makes (though they actually do share accounts and money). One of the many things I like about that arrangement is that both are honest about what they like and dislike about the holidays. This might sound unbalanced to some couples, but my bro and sister-ln-law both get what they want out of the holidays.

Sorry if this is too long. But I just wanted to illustrate how couples are happiest when they figure out what they both want for the holidays.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:37 AM on December 15, 2007

It totally depends on my financial situation at the time. The most I've spent is $700, for something he really really really wanted, but I had to go very light on his birthday that year, because I was only making $900/month as a grad student TA. If I could afford it, I'd have no problem buying him a car, or something else extravagant that he wanted/needed, but he knows I can't do that (nor would he expect it). It's really not about Christmas per se for me (I'm not even Christian, and he's agnostic) - I just love seeing the excitement of a little boy on his face.
posted by desjardins at 7:48 AM on December 15, 2007

$50-150, depending on how we are doing financially. We usually have very specific, practical things that we get each other and sometimes use it as an excuse to buy nice stuff for the house.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:34 AM on December 15, 2007

We don't buy each other presents, so, 0%. We made this agreement last year because he makes a great salary and I make practically nothing. I accidentally saw that he was planning to buy me an electronic keyboard and a very nice diamond and gold necklace and it broke my heart that I couldn't get him anything equivalent. I just felt that it wasn't fair and introduced a weird dynamic to our Christmas. So we don't exchange gifts.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:41 AM on December 15, 2007

We made this agreement last year

Should be: this year.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:41 AM on December 15, 2007

I'm not spending a dime on that lazy, good-for-nothing, two-timing son-of-a-bitch.

No, it really depends on our financial situation at the time. We actually discuss it ahead of time, so there aren't any hurt feelings. We sometimes go in together on a present for the two of us. This year, with any luck, we're getting a Wii! Or we may agree to put it towards a vacation.

I love to buy my husband presents, but sometimes we get more bang for the buck if we pool our resources. If I were flush right now, I'd spend somewhere between $300 and $500. Unfortunately, I spent all of my holiday bonus paying off my credit card, so he has to suffer for my lack of financial management.
posted by Evangeline at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2007

$0. Neither my wife nor I celebrate Christmas, and we're not all that into accumulating possessions. Both our birthdays fall kinda-sorta near Christmas, and we give each other birthday presents, which fluctuate in value from small (I think each of us spent about $30 on each other this year) to fairly lavish (5-10% of monthly income).
posted by adamrice at 9:41 AM on December 15, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone - this is very useful indeed. Just to clarify, we have a certain amount of joint account money for running the house, meals out etc, which we pay into in proportion to our take home salaries, and the rest is our own, which pays for presents etc. We buy each other things that we wouldn't buy ourselves (I buy a lot of books, but cheap, and get the expensive new shiny hardbacks at Christmas and Birthday) and we seem to spend about the same as the average Hive Minder!

So - we weren't worried but were curious, and I'm really pleased how many replies we got!
posted by LyzzyBee at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2007

My wife keeps trying to set a limit for us this year, but I am getting her something extravagant because she is giving me the best gift of all, a little baby girl.
posted by Big_B at 10:56 AM on December 15, 2007

No more than $100. We didn't officially set a limit, this is just about how it works out. Some years he's gotten me a present and not vice-versa, some years we've both had presents for each other, some years I've got a present for him and not vice-versa. Depends on who has a thing that they totally want at that time.
posted by desuetude at 11:18 AM on December 15, 2007

$50 each, and often this is just given in cash credit in the budget as we both hate useless gifts and clutter.
posted by katala at 2:36 PM on December 15, 2007

I don't spend a percentage of my income but a percentage of how much I have to spend. This can vary depending on how much I'm earning, what my bills are (currently 82% of my monthly income goes on rent and standard bills), and how much I've planned or saved up. Once I have an amount budgeted for presents I divide it up roughly evenly amongst the people I have to buy for, with my partner getting around twice as much spent as everyone else. He earns a lot more than I do so it tends to end up with us spending the same on each other but he also spends that amount on each of his family instead of half like I do. But he'll spend a little bit more or less if he finds something cool, he earns enough that he doesn't need to budget as carefully as I do (he has more people to buy for also).

So for example this year I have $120 to spend and six people to buy for, including the boyfriend. But one of those is an extra special one off expensive gift that has it's own line in the overall budget, so really five to buy for. So the boyfriend gets $40 and the rest get twenty. In practice one of those $20 presents ended up only costing $8.95 meaning I could afford to spend $50 on someone else, but all presents are equally awesome. Given that this is NZ money I'm probably spending less than you think (NZ$40 is roughly US$31) but buying a cool present is much more important than buying an expensive one.

I can understand why you all make it a percent of your income and I guess mine ends up being some percentage which is reasonably similar from year to year, but my budget is based on set dollar amounts so that's how I think. And I rarely spend more than $180 in total on the five or six people I'm buying for.
posted by shelleycat at 3:30 PM on December 15, 2007

It just occurred to me to work it out and I'm spending 7.2% of my monthly income. Which is kind of cool actually.
posted by shelleycat at 3:36 PM on December 15, 2007

Probably close to about 1%.

We don't tend to buy gifts for each other, per se; we will buy gifts for *us*, though. This year I think I'm getting a filing system, and he's getting a monitor, possibly.

We tend to spend more on other people. Family, friends, etc. Not a lot, though. Christmas is about love and celebration, not about spending money.

This year, our wishlist included a ricecooker and a dustbuster - things we need and are too lazy to bother getting ourselves. The gift is more in the effort than the object.

Of course, we then go and give each other little cool things all year (he got me RAM earrings! and a d20 necklace!! :D ).

We're rather Christian, so we don't have a Christmas tree, and like most birthdays in my family, celebrate by an intimate dinner, a glass of fine scotch, and some relaxed family time.
posted by ysabet at 8:55 PM on December 15, 2007

My hubby hates surprises, so I get him a very small something to unwrap that I know he'll like (say, maybe two hours' pay for me) and fill his stocking with "stocking stuffers" and candy, then he picks himself out something to splurge on (say, at least the cost of a full tank of gas or two, but exactly how much varies--this year, he got himself two new games for the XBox 360).
posted by Cricket at 12:43 AM on December 16, 2007

Usually the partner gets something around 1/4 month's salary. (Partner makes about twice what I do). One year, partner got 1x monthly salary, but that involved a platinum wedding band. Kids get 20% of a month, grandkids get 10%.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:33 PM on December 16, 2007

The answer here really depends on how shared your finances are. We have no set amount, because it depends on how our finances are doing, but it's usually something small, because we make big purchases together.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:46 PM on December 16, 2007

we're not doing xmas this year because we don't have the money, but past years we've set the limit at $100 each.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:26 AM on December 17, 2007

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