I know very few people who genuinely stick to their budget at Christmas and if you have kids, you're probably even guiltier or overspending. But what about that first Christmas as a new parent? Did you want to just snuggle up with your own precious gift and keep things simple or did you shower your new baby with gifts? Or maybe you were being extra careful as the shock of how much a little person costs was really sinking in! Well research out today from the Post Office says that UK parents are going to shell out £135 million this Christmas on presents for baby's first Christmas - that's an average of £166 per baby!! That's the equivalent of about 1200 nappies!! And the younger the parent, the more money gets spent, with 18-24 year olds splashing out a whopping £245 on gifts for their baby's first Chrimbo.
Now don't get me wrong, with 4 children myself I understand how hard the balancing act is between making my kids happy and only spending within my means. As glorious as it is to see their shiny happy faces as they rip open their presents, it is not great if their parents start the new year drowning in debt and worrying about how to afford three pairs of new school shoes.
I am left wondering whether baby's first Christmas isn't a bit similar to the lipstick effect of a recession. When times are financially tough, apparently the sale of lipsticks rockets as women buy a treat to give themselves a little boost! Maybe parents are doing the same with the first Christmas. Those first months of a baby's life can be stressful and tiring so maybe parents are in fact rewarding themselves by buying lots of gifts. In fact, on closer inspection, although the top ten gifts for baby's first Christmas is headed up by a trusty teddy bear, there are a fair few things that look suspiciously like presents for the parents themselves on there! Does a baby really care about the luxury changing bag she has been bought??? Maybe it is actually a little treat for mummy instead!
In some ways, the first Christmas is the only one when you could genuinely get away with buying nothing as your baby just wouldn't know or care!!! Ha ha ha so cruel! However, a nice alternative to gifts that will be out of favour by next year, might be to start investing for your child. It sounds boring, I know that, but the sooner you start the more your child will have in the future. Seriously, popping just £10 a week into a savings account from birth could give a child well over £10,000 by the time they are 18! I know the last thing your 6 year old wants on Christmas morning is a note in a card saying you have added cash to their Junior ISA, but a baby can't even read!! It is perfect!
Obviously I am being a little tongue in cheek but the fact remains that sometimes we all go a little overboard at Christmas, especially when it comes to our kids. However, when they are still babies, all they really need is food, a warm bed and the best freebie of all, love (although a few photos of them wrapped in Xmas paper for the family album wouldn't go amiss either!!)