Kids And Finances

When Should Kids Start Buying Christmas Gifts?

parenting advice, kids buying gifts, kids purchasing gifts


My mother-in-law had planned to come to town to go shopping with my wife this weekend. When my son found out, he asked if he could go shopping with her first, by himself.  He wanted to go shopping for Christmas gifts for my wife and I, and obviously he can’t do that if we take him.

At the age of 14, this is the first time he has expressed an interest in buying us gifts.

I had thought about this a little in the past wondering if, and when he may determine giving gifts to us was something he wanted to do. I can’t remember when I started buying gifts for my parents, but the first present I bought my dad was a pack of gum. I wrapped it up and put it under the tree, but when he asked me what I got him I spilled the beans without blinking an eye. That probably says something about how young I was at the time.

It wasn’t something I thought I needed to address with him, as it certainly isn’t necessary that he buy us presents. I don’t need gifts from him, quite frankly the fact that he’s 14 and still wants to hang out with me is probably the single best gift he could give me. But I also didn’t want to discourage him from getting into the giving spirit. I reiterated that he didn’t have to buy us anything, to which he simply responded, “I know.”

With a smile on his face, he and his grandmother walked out the door for shopping and lunch.

He left with $60 he had saved from his allowance, and came home with $10. I have no idea what he bought. Obviously he was paying attention to things my wife and I have said to have ideas as to what to buy us.

A gift under the tree from our son isn’t needed. But I know that his gifts are from the heart, and show his appreciation and love for us. The box could be empty for all I care, just the fact that he thought of giving us something means a lot to me.

Do you have school age kids that buy you gifts for the Holidays? At what age did they start? Do you set an amount for how much they can spend or do you leave it up to them?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Not counting the PTA gift fairs at school, the first time I bought a gift for my parents was when I was making my own money (you don’t want to buy them gifts with their money). 🙂

    My son came home from his first year of college with gifts for us. I was so touched, I cried. 🙂 Like you said, the boxes could’ve been empty, but the fact that he thought of us and appreciated us meant so much.

  • @susan – Buying the gifts with his allowance is where my son is at right now too, although he does periodically earn money from other places. However he does have to do weekly responsibilities to earn his allowance, so I try not to think of it as us paying for the presents he’s buying us. 🙂 It’s amazing how kids change when they go to college – I’m interested in seeing how my son changes. I remember sitting in my dorm room after a few weeks of college suddenly thinking about how smart my parents were! Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts!

  • @surburbanfinance – LOL, yeah as mentioned above, that’s what my son is doing, but he does have to earn his allowance. He’s almost 15, so it’s about time to suggest he start looking for his first J.O.B. 🙂

  • @Bryce – that’s awesome…I can just imagine a 5 year old pronouncing, “I bought these with my OWN money!” Hmmm, maybe it’s something I did wen I was young as well….haha – thanks for stopping by!

  • I think they should be encouraged to start when they’re 5 or 6. Even if you split the cost of the payment with them, they’re still forming the good habit of giving 🙂

  • @MoneyAhoy – great point….there’s the whole financial lesson to be had, BUT there’s also the lesson of how rewarding it is to give to others. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Presents are always good.
    Even if you are two or ninety, they are still good.
    However, the right age to buy presents for others would probably be ten or twelve.

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