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On Sibling Gift-Giving


I’ve noticed that your kiddos receive gifts from their siblings for both Christmas and their birthdays. At what age did you start this? Do they pay for the gifts out of their own money or do you help them pay? Do you have any other related thoughts/advice? My kiddos are still baby/toddler/preschool age and we haven’t done anything like this, but I would love to do so in the future.


I’m trying to remember when we started this with our kids!   I think it sort of gradually happened as each of them reached early grade school age, and if I recall correctly, it’s not something that we instigated.   They just like giving presents to each other.

tips for christmas morning photos

On Christmas morning, Mr. FG and I are always so encouraged to see how excited they are to give their gifts to each other…it’s always the first thing they want to do.   They enjoy receiving gifts, of course, but giving gifts to each other is a definite highlight.

They do mostly pay for the gifts with their own money, which is why this started in grade school.   Preschoolers are generally not flush with cash. 😉

Sometimes, if a kid really wants to get a more expensive item for someone, several of them will go in together and buy a group gift.   Or if that doesn’t work out, Mr. FG and I sometimes help them, making it a joint gift from them and us.


The amount they spend on each other varies with their income level.   Joshua and Lisey have more income than Zoe and Sonia do, so they tend to spend more.   This disparity hasn’t seemed to bother my kids at all…they understand that not everyone has equal resources to use.

sibling gift-giving

A few random thoughts on this topic:

  • If you have a kid who is short on cash for gift-giving, come up with some paid work for them to do around the house.
  • Use gift-giving as an opportunity to help them learn about planning for future expenses.   If Sonia wants to buy something for herself in November, we talk about whether she’ll still have enough money left to buy Christmas presents.
  • Help them learn frugal shopping habits as they buy gifts.   We shop around, pull up coupons on our phones, look for discount codes online, and so on.   You can afford to give more if you know how to stretch your dollars!
  • Homemade gifts are great options, especially for younger kids.   Presents don’t necessarily have to be bought.
  • Gifts don’t have to be big or expensive.   When my kids were littler, the presents they bought often cost just a couple of dollars (candy, Japanese erasers, a small craft item)

I don’t think that siblings necessarily need to give each other gifts, but it’s been a fun tradition at our house, and I like that the process provides so many organic learning opportunities in areas like generosity, planning, and smart shopping.


Readers, if you’ve got thoughts/advice on sibling gift-giving, share in the comments!

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Thursday 15th of September 2016

I came from a frugal family but my parents always made sure my sister and I exchanged gifts. Lovely blog post :)


Monday 25th of April 2016

This post brought about something I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on... I am a single, professional adult. And I love giving good gifts (gifts are my primary love language). However, my slightly older sister makes a fraction of the money I do; she's married with a child (and another on the way). This past year, I think she felt bad that I spent more than her and gave me a belated gift (I think to make up for it).

What do you think? Should I stop being as generous? She has to be so careful with her money, and I love being able to spoil her. However, I don't want her to feel guilty or like she owes me anything.


Monday 25th of April 2016

I have a good friend who I exchange Christmas and Birthday gifts with each year. I tend to give between $40-50 for the item. She gives between $10-20. Her gifts have been some of the most meaningful ones... it isn't about the money. In the end, it's truly the thought that counts.

She didn't participate in Christmas this year due to giving birth a mere week before! But I gave her a giftcard to her local library so she could take the baby there, treat herself to a drink at the cafe, and attend a newborn storytime.

If you feel bad enough about it, feel free to lower the amount you spend, but find something extra-thoughtful. :)


Monday 25th of April 2016

Is your relationship such that you could have a conversation with her about this? That seems like the simplest solution, if your relationship can handle it. I'd make sure to communicate that you'd love the privilege of spoiling her, but that you really, really don't want her to feel like she needs to reciprocate monetarily.

Mrs. Picky Pincher

Monday 25th of April 2016

I love this approach! My husband and I are planning on starting a family in a few years and we've gone back and forth on ways to raise frugal, mindful children. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Sand

Monday 25th of April 2016

My husband's family had a tradition of sharing cheap but fun gifts with each other. Our daughter was five the first year she contributed. She colored a picture for each family member picking the pictures from her coloring books based on each person's likes. I was pretty proud that she was able to make those choices.


Monday 25th of April 2016

We are in the create-a-gift camp--not necessarily for those outside our immediate family, but definitely within the family. My kids are often more excited to make gifts for each other and us than they are to receive gifts. My daughter has surprised my husband and me the past 2 years by making Easter treats for us (she's artistic and likes to make drawings/sculptures and lately has been interested in hand sewing). I think that the anticipation aspect is part of the joy--they "sneak" around with creating gifts, and put a lot of thought into each person's interests/tastes. The other thing I like about the create-a-gift aspect is that they appreciate gifts given to them that are homemade or "humble". They recognize that time/effort has gone into creating a gift and even if it isn't their "thing", they are gracious receivers.

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