Remember time is priceless

Parents are under pressure to splash out on their children every Christmas. Lisa Salmon reports.


As the festive season picks up pace, parents are yet again facing huge pressure to buy the best toys and gadgets for their excited youngsters.

And the best comes at a hefty price of course. In fact, new research has revealed that the average parents plan to spend as much as £275 on gifts for each of their children. Topping the gift list is a TV, a camera and a personalised football kit. The study, by World Bicycle Relief UK, also revealed that 71 per cent of UK mothers said they felt pressure to spend a lot of money, and 28 per cent added that they had already exceeded their initial budget.

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Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the parenting charity Family Lives, points out that companies have realised how powerful children are as consumers and many advertising campaigns proactively target children, which can really increase the pressure on mums and dads

“Every season, especially Christmas, new toys and gadgets come onto the market and many children and young people want to get their hands on them.

“It can be difficult for parents to know how to respond to a child who wants everything,” he says.

“Although it doesn’t feel like it at times, you as the parent are the most valuable resource for your child.”

He stresses that any creative time parents spend with their children is worth more than anything that can be bought in a shop.

“Even if you work, which leaves you with less time, think ‘quality time’ and do something you all enjoy. It can feel good to spoil your child with expensive gifts, but cost is a great consideration for most parents, as is keeping limitations on how much you treat your children.”

And it’s not only their own children that parents have to buy for – separate research by the games and jigsaw manufacturer Orchard Toys has revealed UK parents will buy gifts for an average of 12 children, on top of their own offspring, this Christmas.

On average, they’ll buy for four child relatives, four of their own friends’ children and four of their children’s friends this year – spending £188 in total.

In terms of “spend etiquette”, the research points to between £5 and £15 being the socially acceptable sum on each child outside the family, and up to £23 on related children, such as nieces, nephews and godchildren.

Simon Newbery, managing director of Orchard Toys, says: “Our research shows that parents are generous but sensible, and not over-indulgent, when it comes to Christmas gifting for children.

“There’s no greater joy than giving a child a present that they will actually play with, their parents will like, and that doesn’t cost the earth.”

And it seems it’s just as hard for parents to buy presents for other people’s children as it is for their own – 40 per cent of parents admitted they found it difficult to choose, with games emerging as the fail-safe option.

The top gifts parents buy for other people’s children are games, toys, books, arts and crafts, money, clothes and confectionery.

When quizzed on what types of gifts they most like their own children to receive at Christmas, educational toys were overwhelmingly preferred by almost three quarters of parents.