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How to Budget, Shop for and Survive a Large Family Christmas

Updated on November 28, 2012

Large Family Christmas Secrets

Budgeting: Set a price per family member and review the total. Modify the budget or who you buy for if necessary. Stick to the budget

Shopping: Suggest that your children or other family members help shop for each other.

Survival during present time: Opening one present at a time keeps the atmosphere civil and everyone will enjoy watching what every one else receives.

My parents have nine children and nearly fifty grand and great grandchildren. People have often said to me, "Buying for your family must be so expensive!"

It isn’t.

The key is…we don’t buy for each other. In a family this large you must draw the line somewhere and help everyone keep some sort of budget. My parent’s set a trend early on that we did not buy for our siblings once they were adults (which is all of us now) and we only buy for our Godchildren.

This makes Christmas less expensive for me, but what about my parents?
How can they possibly buy for a family of that size when you are on a budget?

How can my parents possibly find the time to go shopping for all those grand and great grandchildren?

How crazy is present time with all those people?

Find out how my parents budget, shop for and survive a large family Christmas.

Christmas Shopping Season

Christmas Presents
Christmas Presents | Source

Creating a Christmas Budget

My parents implemented an amount per family member budget to help ensure they knew how much they were spending and create some sort of fairness amongst a giant group of people.

Single Adults: $30

Married Adults: $15 for you and $15 for your spouse

Grandchildren: $10

Great Grandchildren: $5

At face value, this does not seem like a crazy amount of money.

Evaluate Your Christmas Budget

Family Member
Gift Amount
Total Amount
Great Grandkids
Evaluate your amount per family member total to determine if you Christmas cost fits in your budget

Modifying Your Christmas Budget

As genius as this fixed amount per person rate is, my parents were still spending more than their budget permitted. As a result, we suggested all adults are removed for Christmas presents equation, including grandchildren who have graduated from college or reached 21 if they did not attend college.

We all agreed that watching a child open a gift is far more exciting and memorable than an adult.

By agreeing to this new structure, their budget was adjusted:

Modify Your Christmas Budget

Family Member
Gift Amount
Total Amount
Great Grandkids
If your cost is not fitting your Christmas budget, consider modifying cost per family member or how many family members are being included

By modifying the number of family members, the budget from $695 to $225 for a $470 savings.

This gave my parents some peace of mind.

Are you buying for too many people? If your budget it tight, maybe it is time to reevaluate the list of people you buy for each year.

Hitting the Malls for Christmas Shopping?

The Malls for ready for Christmas shoppers
The Malls for ready for Christmas shoppers | Source

Online is a Simple Way to Buy Christmas Gifts

Shopping for a Large Family at Christmas

We addressed my parent’s budget, but what about their time? How can they possibly know what every child would like and find the gifts in a reasonable amount of time?

My Mother solved this issue early on as well. We buy for our own kids. With the $10 for each grandchild, we set out to maximize what our children receive from their Grandparents as well as make sure they will love their gifts.

My parents appreciate the effort we spend to save them hours of mall time!

Are you running ragged buying for your children and their children? Ask them to help you out. Instead of asking for lists from the grandkids so that you can run to the store, see if you kids can do some of the shopping for you.

Unwrapping Presents in a Large Family

Unwrapping gifts for a family this size could seem chaotic and no one might notice what anyone else received.

Our unwrapping tradition has been in place my entire life. We open gifts one at a time. Sure, it takes a little longer, but it allows one person to be the temporary center of attention and allows everyone to comment on your new item.

Unwrapping gifts is civil, organized and enjoyed by the group.

Does your unwrapping time result in a pile of paper and no one knows what happened? Consider slowing down and letting each person open a gift and thank the gift giver right away!

Enjoy the Christmas Season

Enjoy your family and the Christmas season
Enjoy your family and the Christmas season | Source

Enjoying a Large Family Christmas

We gather as a family each Christmas Eve. We begin my filling three pews and attending mass. Mass is followed by buffet styled hors d'oeuvres at one of my sister's houses.

When the younger kids start getting antsy, gift opening begins. My parents get prime seats and the one at a time gift opening begins.

I am sure my parents are pleased by the budget they implemented.

I guarantee they love that they don’t do the shopping.
I know they love watching each grandchild open their gift and then giving them a hug.

Keep your budgets in check. Ask for help if you need it. Slow down this Christmas and enjoy the season.


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    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Large families are fun, but can definitely be expensive. Our family found itself growing so large that Christmas became a financial challenge. By reducing the number of those who needed gifts (mainly adults who honestly don't need anything!), we were able to keep the festive spirit for the kids and help our parents out.

      Our one present per child still works perfectly. My kids know this tradition and expect nothing else. Thanks for taking the time to read, loyalsudz.

    • loyalsudz profile image


      6 years ago from East Coast

      Whew! I think I was a little apprehensive until I saw the $470 in savings. Great Hub and practical for not-so-large families, too.


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