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Buying Presents for Grown Children

I live in a small rural town where pay is low and times are tough right now. I know how much we usually spent on our son for Christmas, but have often thought that we went overboard. He's never had grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins to buy him any gifts, so all he got was from us. He was by no means spoiled, and often waited for Christmas to get new things like clothes.


He's now grown and married, and I wonder what the appropriate amount to spend on him and his wife would be. I don't want to seem cheap, but we're on a very strict budget. Both he and his wife are still in school, live over 1000 miles from us, and are not able to come home very often. They really appreciate money since they have a tight budget also (and it saves on shipping), but what amount is appropriate and acceptable?

I understand the top has no limit, but our budget does. Would anyone be so kind to give an upper and lower limit that they've set when buying a gift for a grown child? For holiday, birthday, or whatever?

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December 3, 20080 found this helpful

First off, see what they might need, instead of cash. We have 4 adult children, and they will let us know things they want or need, for example, one daughter and her husband requested an electric griddle, the next year her sister asked for one. When you get them something they need, they seem to appreciate it more, however, your support and backing will probably mean more to them then gifts.

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December 3, 20080 found this helpful

Ask them ! We have a grandson in college and we send him small gift cards to gas stations and grocery stores every month. He calls to say he appreciates it. I keep track, because we have 4 more behind him.

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

I really appreciate the responses, but I think I may need to clarify my question. In the past, we did ask what they needed, and have helped buy tires, pots and pans, money to see her parents and to come home, etc. But that was then and this is now. They have all the basics they need at this time. They also have steep student loans, and would prefer money instead of gifts. I cannot call them up and ask how much money they think would be appropriate to send.

My question is: When sending a grown, married child and his wife a gift of cash for Christmas, a birthday, a graduation, or whatever, what are deemed appropriate amounts?

I'd just like some ball-park figures to assure myself that we are neither being cheap nor going overboard. I am asking strictly about cash amounts--no gifts or gift cards. I know that I'm not the only person to be wrestling with this question. I appreciate everyone's help.

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

I think I would base the $$$ on how much I could easily afford. Just a ball park figure that sounds about what I would do is $200.00. If you're so inclined I think it would be nice to give a "gift for no reason" to help out with school, etc LATER. I think giving TOO much for Christmas sets a precident and as you get older money will probably get tighter and you might feel you have to live up to past performances. Lot of words to say $200.00 but that's me!

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Susan.

I'm an adult married child, 36yrs old/female. And my advice is for you to give based on Your budget, only. One cannot define what is appropriate as far as a dollar amount to give to there full grown married children or to any aged child. Do what you can afford and don't feel guilty if it doesn't meet up with previous gifts or what other people are giving to their grown kids or what other ppl deem as appropriate. If you feel the cash amount is too low, then pass on an heirloom of some sort or make a picture album for them. Seriously, its ok to consider your needs first, especially in this day. And when I say needs I mean YOUR immediate and YOUR future needs.

I know of adult married children that get money in the thousands for Christmas, but their parents can afford it no problem. I also know adult married children that get next to nothing as far as cash value is concerned, but like wise, their parent(s) cannot afford it. Either way its okay.

Clearly you have done a good job in raising your kid. Its your time now to make sure your future is secure. That's more difficult for those 50+ than for for married children under 40 or so. (These are just estimates, but you get the point, I hope).

I am inclined to believe that there are some financial needs that you would like to see met for youself in order to feel more secure. Otherwise, I don't believe this would be such a burden on your conscious. Allow yourself to work towards them with no guilt! You deserve it and they will understand.

Plus, 100 or 200 dollars is a lot of money! If you don't think so right now, then pinch yourself! (Pinch again) Its adds up in a savings account or in an investment. My inlaws usually give us 100 each and that is more than sufficient, we don't even expect that. I put the money right into the bank to either save or help offset the extra spending we do at the holidays.

(I'm thrilled to roll $50 worth of change and put it in the bank.) Now, that's not the only money available to me to save, but it has definitely added up over time to make a difference!

Just do what you can afford no matter how little it may seem. I'm sure your son will understand and probably doesn't expect much anyways!

Best wishes to you, and Merry Christmas.

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

What can you bank monthly to save for the gifts you need to buy. If it's $5., then 5x12=$60. You need birthday, anniversary and Christmas. Calculate out what is right for you, not them!

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful


I'm married with children. Our families give different amounts depending on their income.

Here's what our family does:

One set of parents give myself and husband $100.00 ( one year it was $25.00 each- they had a bad year) they buy the kids a few things off their Christmas List.

The other parents don't give cash at all they purchase things that we need- this year it happen to be a dishwasher.

One set of Grandparents gives each family as a whole $150.00 We have 4 in our family so ends up being $37.50 each.

Another Grandparent gives a Christmas card and phone call.

I hope this helps in making your decision. happy holidays! Ria

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

I think the 'what you can comfortably give' is a good answer. We have given different amounts through the years depending on our cash income at the time. Now that we are retired and on a fixed income as prices for everything rise, I put a few extra dollars away each month and tally up what coupons save me, and put that with the extra dollars. At gift time we give our savings.

I believe that the best gift we can give our children is to NOT have them worry about taking financial care of us.

o the gifts to them should not be a burden to us as we give them- and only YOU know your financial situation.

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December 6, 20080 found this helpful

I am in college and lost my job in Oct. My boyfriend and I live on our own in an apartment. Our parents spend what they can afford, we are adults and try to be realistic. We don't expect anyone to spend an amount that they are going to regret later financially. As far as monetary amount. My parents spend around 25 each and his parents spend around 50 each or so. It is enough to make a dent in at least utility or food bills. Hope this helps, and I am sure whatever you can give they will appreciate.

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August 6, 20090 found this helpful

Two of my children have had financial problems. One in the past and one now. I got a credit card in their name and gave them a limit of what they can charge. This has helped me feel useful and limits what I am able to provide.

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August 6, 20090 found this helpful

We finally solved that question as each daughter got married and then had children. We now draw names for Christmas (all 6 of us) and put a $50 limit on the gift we are to buy for our "draw". Sure helps not having to spend $50 on each adult child and then find ways to spend on the children. For birthdays I spend max of $50, sometimes less if I have found a good bargain. But I usually give cash, it's always appreciated. Good luck!

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March 9, 20150 found this helpful

For Christmas, we give our grown married children AAA. Since they each now have daughters that are 18 years old, each AAA for a family is about $120. We than buy a small gift for the daughters that don't drive, no more than $10. So, our limit is $130. If I didn't pay for AAA, I suppose I would give up to $130 cash although that seems like a lot.

For Birthdays, the adults get $50 each and when the kids were young, they each got there age in cash. Now, since they are all over 15 years old, I give them $25.

Some people do more, some do less.

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Anonymous Flag
November 7, 20150 found this helpful

Our adult son just got married. We know they both still have college loans and money is the most helpful gift. If you have been setting aside small amounts for a few months, $300.00 would be amazing and $200.00 would be so welcome for them. Every year is different and I always tell mine that while we are able to give, we will. God is good today and forever! God Bless!

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Present for Grown Child
Buying Presents for Grown Children
Holidays and Parties Gifts AdviceDecember 3, 2008
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