Mum's the word: Dec/Jan

In the first of a new monthly feature, we spoke to users of Mumsnet about their plans for the family Christmas - how much they will spend, whether budgets are tighter this year and how far they would push finances for a 'must-have toy'.
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OUR survey found that this year, parents are planning to spend an average of £112.51 on each of their children for Christmas. When we delved a little deeper into the results however, it seems that a few extremes have skewed the average slightly. In fact 23 per cent of parents will spend between £26 and £50, while a quarter of parents fell into the £76 to £100 bracket (25 per cent).

Of those who told ToyNews how this differed to spending in previous years, 48 per cent said they were spending less, while just 24 per cent will be increasing their budgets, and 28 per cent keeping gifts at around the same price.

Must-haves
With half of the TRA’s Dream Dozen list this year costing £49.99 or over, we asked Mumsnet users if they would push their budget in order to buy their children a ‘must-have toy’.

These ‘must-have’ toys split the opinion of respondents, with 53 per cent saying they wouldn’t push themselves to afford one, while 47 per cent said they would. A number of parents said they would rather spend more on a large item if it would give longer play value.
‘BornToFolk’ commented: “I wouldn’t push the budget for a must-have, but I would for something like a bike that he’s going to get a lot of use from.”

Some of the comments from those against buying must-have toys included ‘ScaredTEEC’, who said: “No, I would not push my budget for a must have toy. No toy is necessary for life.” ‘PinkWinePixie’ wrote: “If he wants a must-have toy that’s over my budget, then I will ask family if they want to buy it from us together. I’m not setting the precedent of getting what you want, just because it’s a must-have.”

But there were those who were quite willing to exceed their planned spending amount to get those toys. ‘RozziPringle’ commented: “Yes, I would spend more if it was something they desperately wanted.” And ‘Gazzalw’ said: “Probably would go for it if it was desperately wanted but probably with a proviso that they wouldn’t get much else.”

Money-off

One of the key trends within the forum was that parents had used a number of methods to discount their kids’ presents. This ranged from vouchers to sales, to cutting back on presents for other family members, through to buying second-hand.

‘LoveBeingAWitch’ explained: “I will be using vouchers. I already have them for this so it will cost zero.”

‘Thereinmadnesslies’ commented: “Some of it will be funded through Amazon vouchers earned for surveys and Boots points.”

And ‘Sarahtigh’ offered: “Daughter will still have loads as I got a Little People Farm and Tractors for £5 from NCT sales, plus a Sizzling Kitchen like the one in ELC for £11 on eBay.” ‘Wompoopigeon’ offered a similar view: “I’ve been getting stuff in charity shops all year round and stashing it away.”

Credit checks

Nearly all Mumsnet users were unanimous in their decision that they would not go into debt buying Christmas presents. If this meant they would need to forgo presents for the adults in the family, buy their gifts throughout the year, or simply cut back on what they spend, these Mumsnetters are clearly being more frugal in 2011.

Comments such as ‘would never go into debt for it’ and ‘if we don’t have the money he/she can’t have it’ were littered throughout the forum.

Day trippers

One thing that is likely to push up the cost of the festive celebrations though, is days out during the Christmas holidays. ‘AAAvegetable’ explained: “Add in Christmas experiences and we will end up spending a lot more.” ‘Azazello’ added: “We’re going to London for a day out with my niece and nephew, which will add a lot of expense on to the Christmas budget.”

So it seems that although we will see a healthy budget per child on Christmas presents this year, parents are getting more and more savvy as to how to save – and the toy industry will have to work harder than ever to get their share of the spend.

Research based on 52 Mumsnetters responses. Average price based on an average per child spend from respondents’ answers.

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