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Resources > Financial Literacy > How Much Money To Give a 12-Year-Old for Christmas—Choosing the Right Amount

How Much Money To Give a 12-Year-Old for Christmas—Choosing the Right Amount

Wondering how much money to give a 12-year-old for Christmas? They’re no longer little children wishing for mountains of toys, but not quite teenagers wanting expensive gaming computers, so you may be unsure which amount of money is just right.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we’ll explain what factors to consider while deciding how much money you should spend, how to stick to your budget, and how to set realistic gift expectations.

What Does the Average American Spend on Their Child for Christmas?

According to a Statista survey, the average American parents planned to spend $200 or less on their child for Christmas in 2023. Here are the results of the survey:

Amount Spent Per ChildPercentage of Parents
Up to $259%
More than $25 to $5015%
More than $50 to $10019%
More than $100 to $15016%
More than $150 to $20012%
More than $20019%

The remaining 9% said they didn’t know yet, while 2% had “no expenses.”

Based on the survey, it seems $200 is a good ballpark amount to spend on your 12-year-old this Christmas as it falls in line with the spending habits of most Americans.

How Much To Spend on Kids for Christmas?

The average amount spent on Christmas gifts per child depends on various factors, so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact dollar figure that works well for everyone. However, here are three factors to consider when deciding what budget works best for you and your family:

  1. Your financial situation and family size
  2. Your child’s age and interests
  3. The rule of three

Your Financial Situation and Family Size

Before you decide how much to spend on each kid for Christmas, take a clear-eyed look at your financial situation. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s your income?
  • How much can you truly afford?
  • Are there any unexpected costs this year?

Kirk Jewell, the founder of Global Financial Services, says that a good rule of thumb is to allocate no more than 1% of your annual income for holiday spending. This percentage should include gifts, decorations, travel, and additional meals associated with the holidays. The gifts here include all the gifts you’ll buy for your friends and family, not just your children.

You might think you’ll need to stretch your gift budget to accommodate each child if you have a large family, but having multiple children doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend more per child. Instead, adjust your budget to ensure each child receives a thoughtful gift or an appropriate amount of money within your means.

Your Child’s Age and Interests

Households with older children may need to allocate a higher budget for Christmas presents compared to those with younger children. This comes as no surprise since toddlers and preschoolers usually don’t have specific preferences and can be delighted with inexpensive presents like toys and books.

At 12, your child is transitioning from simpler pleasures to distinct interests and brand preferences, and they might desire more expensive items like smartphones or branded clothing. They may have also started developing specific hobbies and passions, from music and sports to tech and art. These interests will influence the amount of money you decide to give them.

Keeping these factors in mind, here are some appropriate amounts to give to your 12-year-old:

The Rule of Three

Instead of stressing over the amount of money you should give your child for Christmas, consider tailoring it according to the rule of three, where you allocate your funds towards three budget-friendly gifts (e.g., $200/3): 

  1. Something that would fulfill a cherished wish. For example, if your child has always wanted a guitar, you can give them enough money to afford a decent second-hand entry-level guitar, which may cost around $66
  2. Something that addresses a practical need. For example, if your child needs winter clothing, they can get multiple pieces for under $66
  3. Something that stimulates their creativity and intellectual development. Examples include puzzle sets, fiction books (or even teenager books for building credit), and art sets, all of which can be bought for under $66

How To Stick to a Christmas Gift Budget

Holidays are meant for celebrating with your loved ones, not breaking the bank. Here are some tips to help you stick to a Christmas gift budget:

  1. Plan your budget early
  2. Ask for your child’s input
  3. Resist the impulse to overspend

Plan Your Budget Early

Financial expert Jessica Morgan says savings for Christmas shopping should ideally start on January 1. A few months before the holiday season, grab a pen and paper or open your kids’ allowance app and start planning your Christmas budget. You can decide how much you can realistically spend in three steps:

  1. Evaluate your income, expenses, and savings goals
  2. Set a total budget and allocate a specific amount for all your Christmas gifts
  3. Assign individual budgets to each person on your list, not just your 12-year-old

This way, you’ll have a clearer picture of your financial possibilities before giving your child money for Christmas and avoid frantic last-minute calculations that could result in exceeding your budget.

Ask for Your Child’s Input

Don’t be shy to bring up gift ideas with your 12-year-old while mentioning your budget range. They’ll likely appreciate your honesty and might even offer suggestions that can be easily bought within the recommended $200 budget, ending your confusion about the right amount. 

You might also be able to save money this way—if your child wants something that’s cheaper than $200, you can check the price of the item and then gift them that amount.

Resist the Impulse To Overspend

In the excitement of the holiday season, it can be tempting to make spur-of-the-moment decisions and give your child more money than you’ve planned or that you can afford.

Make sure not to deviate from the amount you’ve settled on and resist the urge to overspend when giving money to your child.

How To Set Christmas Gift Expectations With Your Child

To set Christmas gift expectations, discuss your holiday spending limit with your child and teach them about the value of money.

While discussing your Christmas spending, explain your budget limitations to your child clearly and gently. Focus on what you can offer instead of what you can’t, and remember to keep your conversation positive and fun. This practice will help you teach your child about important concepts for establishing financial stability, including:

  • The importance of budgeting
  • Responsible spending
  • Saving money

Another important aspect they’ll need for financial success is solid credit, which you should help them build as early as possible for maximum benefits. However, the CARD Act of 2009 prohibits issuing credit cards to those under 21, meaning your child will have a non-existent credit history when they become an adult. Even if your teen has a credit card, you’ll have to be a co-signer, so any activity will be attributed to you rather than your child.

To overcome this limitation and provide your child with easy access to financial products in the future, you should look into FreeKick—a service that combines credit building and identity protection features and makes building credit as a teenager possible.

Set Your Child Up for Financial Success and Protect Their Identity With FreeKick

FreeKick is an FDIC-insured deposit account offered by Austin Capital Bank. You can use it to build credit for your child and protect their identity as well as the identities of the rest of your family.

Building Credit with FreeKick

FreeKick’s credit building service is available for children ages 13 to 25, helping both your minor and legally adult children establish a credit history. You can start building your child’s financial future by following these three simple steps:

  1. Create an Account—Visit FreeKick.bank to sign up for an account and choose a deposit that suits your financial means
  2. Set It and Forget It—Once you activate the account, FreeKick will start building 12 months’ worth of credit history for your child
  3. Keep Growing—After 12 months, you can close the account without penalties or continue building credit for your child by renewing the account for another 12-month period

With FreeKick, your child will have a credit history head start of up to five years when they become an adult, along with a 24-transaction payment history. Note that good credit can help your child save up to $200,000 during their lifetime.

Identity Protection with FreeKick

Child identity theft can hurt your 12-year-old’s credit profile, and they can even get charged with crimes like credit card theft. Unfortunately, children are frequent targets of this crime—in fact, a child’s identity is stolen every 30 seconds. 

To help keep your child from becoming another identity theft statistic, FreeKick offers comprehensive protection features to ensure your whole family remains safe.

Here’s what the service includes:

Services for Adult Children and ParentsServices for Minor Children
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Lost wallet protection
Court records monitoring
Change of address monitoring
Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
Free FICO® Score monthly
FICO® Score factors
Experian credit report monthly
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick offers two affordable plans that can cover different family budgets:

FDIC-Insured DepositAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)
No deposit$149

Both plans offer identity protection for two parents and six children aged 0 to 25 and credit building for six children aged 13 to 25. 

Build your child’s credit and safeguard their identity—sign up for FreeKick today.