How much is too much?

The amount parents spend on their children at Christmas varies massively. But, speaking to them on the high street shows that most are conscious of not overdoing it.

With one week left on the advent calendar, parents and children are busy counting down the days to Christmas. Whether it’s going to midnight Mass, spending time with family, enjoying a lavish meal, or getting everything on your Christmas wish list there is hardly a person out there who isn’t looking forward to the holiday season.

However, if there is one thing most people have in common, that is that like it or not Christmas puts a dent in your bank balance.

“Don’t even get me started,” Christina Kyriakou said. “I was in a shop the other day buying presents and when the lady rang everything up on the till it came to £270. I wanted to die, but what could I do. It’s Christmas,” she said.

The 32-year-old mother said she not only buys for her three-year-old daughter and seven-month-old son, but also has nieces and nephews to think of, her godchildren, her godchildren’s siblings, her husband’s godchildren, their siblings, and close friends’ children.

“In total I buy for about 20 kids, which will set me back about £350,” she said. On her own children Kyriakou said she’ll be spending about £30-£35 on her eldest and her son will be much cheaper as he’s only an infant. “Buying all these presents is stressful and expensive, but on the other hand you want to do it for the children.”

Thirty-year-old Maria Antoniou is another parent with a huge shopping list. “Thirty kids. Can you believe it? I have 30 kids to buy gifts for this year. Last year it was 25 and this year more friends have had babies. Then there are my relatives, other close friends’ children, my son’s friends…”

Antoniou said the expense used to overwhelm her but that over the past two years she’d resigned herself to the fact that this was what Christmas would involve each year. “I’ve dealt with it by agreeing with friends to put a £10 budget on all presents. But that’s still 30 multiplied by £10,” she said. As for her two-and-a-half-year-old son, he’d be getting a present worth £50 or £60. “We like to give him something nice and so spend that little bit extra. I know it’s not the norm, but it’s Christmas and it’s how it was when I was growing up,” she said.

Another one whose friends and her budget is Katerina Andreou. “£5 is our limit unless it’s your godchild and then we’ve agreed you can spend more,” she said. But with two sons of her own to buy for, 11 of her friends’ children and four nieces and nephews she still spends close well over £100 each time. “We buy our boys a few stocking fillers and they’re also getting what they want, skateboards,” she said.

One father of three said he’d had enough of excessive spending. “Last year was just ridiculous. My wife said she’d bought a few gifts for each and then thought they weren’t enough and so bought some more. They ended up with so much in the end that they didn’t know what to do with it all,” Kyriakos Ioannou said. This year he said he’d given his wife a budget of £80 for each child.

“I don’t think it’s right that they’re spoiled like that. They don’t need all that stuff and especially if it’s toys they’re getting, they play with them for a while and then set them aside never to pick them up again… Tell me a child that is grateful for what he or she has today. I don’t know one.”

However despite Ioannou’s best efforts not to indulge his children this year, it might not be quite as easy as he thinks. “Of course my wife has already spent about £150 on our youngest so I’ve told her to tell the other two they’re getting gifts of £25 each,” the 44-year-old said. He added: “If I was to go through with that they [his eldest two] wouldn’t speak to me for a year. They’re already calling me scrooge as it is. It’s just I don’t want us to go overboard like last year.”

Panayiota Savva, 41, agreed with him. “This year I’m not able to afford to spend too much. Life is just getting so expensive. I buy a lot of gifts for my two daughters because I like to put lots of gifts under the tree for them. I’ll spend around £50 to £100 on their gifts. Then I have to buy for my two godchildren, and four of my husband’s nieces and nephews,” she said.

Savva was saved from buying a further 10 gifts after she and her four sisters agreed to stop buying for each other’s children two years ago. “It all became too expensive. My 13th salary is already spent and I got a second job last month so that I can keep afloat,” she said.

Andri Spyrou said she too had spent less this year. “I’ve spent about £300 on nine children, and that includes my own three,” she said. The 36-year-old said she had actually spent more on her godchildren this year than on her own children because they had so many toys already and would be getting spoiled from their relatives.

“We got them something from Santa and from us so that’s still about £20 each. My 13th salary hasn’t even been given to me yet and I think I’ll have it spent before it is.” However despite the financial burden, Spyrou said the joy spread across the children’s faces was worth every penny.

She said: “At the end of the day what’s money? It’s definitely worth it just to see how happy they are. They’re already counting down the days till next Monday and can’t wait to wake up and see what they’ve got. I might have gone without a new outfit this year but the sales are in January and nothing can replace the look on their faces when they open their gifts.”