Yesterday I decided to get organised and buy my two children's stocking fillers online.
I clicked through www.stocking-fillers.co.uk (last year I used www.letterbox.co.uk but fancied a change) selecting items which cost a pound or two – nothing individually cost more than £5. So I was amazed when the total came to nearly £100.
Admittedly, this did include a larger than usual delivery charge as I live in France, so I went back to my basket and took a few items out (sorry, kids) but it got me wondering about whether I was being excessive in my Christmas spending.
According to www.discountvouchers.co.uk , 83 are planning to spend less than usual.
Website www.vouchercodes.co.uk puts the average amount spent by parents on presents for children at £74.77, while www.moneysupermarket.com finds it is a more generous average of £136 per child – with one in ten spending more than £250 on their lucky children.
I asked some other mums how much they spent, who said anything from around £20 to £50 per child – but that it is easy to spend more than you mean to. Debbie initially estimated that she spent around £20 for stocking presents which she had picked up throughout the year for her two-year-old son, but when she totted up the total she found the presents were actually worth around £45.
Many mums keep stocking present costs down by including things their children actually need and they would have to buy anyway. Clare says: "The secret of our stockings is that they are just big men's shooting socks which are not really that big – if you go anywhere near a pillowcase then you are in trouble.
"I try to get useful things in the months leading up to Christmas as well as the tat – hair clips, socks, pants, gloves, toothbrush and paste. Then I put in a few small toys and some silly items like novelty key rings – it comes to about £25 or £30 per child. I try to make the everyday items seem like gifts – but mostly it means they are wearing lots of old socks in the run-up to Christmas! It's scary to add it all up though – it's more than I thought and I prefer to save the money to spend on their "big" present."
Meanwhile Sarah goes all out on stockings for her two boys. She says: "They love their stockings – they are often more excited about the goodies in their stockings than their main present so I put a lot of effort into the stockings and end up spending upwards of £40.
"While my children still believe in Father Christmas I'm prepared to keep the dream alive with the best presies I can buy without breaking the bank. I save money by buying second-hand books, Lego and board games on eBay and Amazon . The boys are so into reduce, reuse, recycle that they are happy to have second-hand stuff."
Jane keeps costs down by "shopping in gift shops full of tat rather than toy shops" and Joanna suggests "padding out the stocking with satsumas and walnuts and other stuff like that like our parents used to do."
Money expert Sue Hayward said: "Every parent wants their child to be excited about their Christmas stocking but there are many ways to keep the costs down without feeling like you are scrimping.
"Buy sets where you can and split the items – perhaps a pack of fruity flavoured bubble bath where you can put one in the stocking and hang onto the others for presents to put on the tree or gifts for the kids' friends.
"Supermarkets like Tesco and Asda are brilliant for cutting and sticking type gifts – things like stickers, felt and glitter shapes – at around £1 a time.
"Wrap everything individually – girls in particular will love things wrapped in pretty tissue paper – and the added bonus is it takes them longer to unwrap so stocking opening won't be over in 10 seconds flat come Christmas morning!
"And while it's too late for this year, next year start a gift box by popping stocking fillers into a box as you see them – as well as any duplicate or unwanted presents the kids get – so you've always got a nest of little presents ready – not just for stockings but for friends' birthdays too."
For inspiration on stocking fillers, click here.
How much do you spend or plan to spend on stockings?
Have you thought about stopping this tradition?