Vidya Kathirgamalingam - 4 Sep, 2019

How much to spend on presents for special occasions

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As the year descends into the holiday season, the countdown to Christmas, New Years and all those summer weddings begins. Frantically scouring the aisles of every shop for the perfect present is a position we’ve all been in. It’s hard enough figuring out what to buy, but what’s even more difficult is calculating how much to actually spend.

Well the answer comes down to a complex equation of how close you are to the person, how special the occasion is and perhaps how much they usually spend on you. But you don’t have to be left scratching your head in confusion any longer. This guide will do all the maths for you.  


For distant relatives or friends, a gift of around $50-$75 is the norm according to most wedding magazines. For close friends and family, $100-$150 is the appropriate amount. If you have a wedding gift registry to go off, use that as a guide to figure out what exactly you should be spending on the couple.

Baby Showers

After the wedding, you can expect to encounter the inevitable baby shower. For co-workers, acquaintances and distant relatives, spend no more than $25. Think of buying gifts like a cute blanket or a bottle warmer. If you are closer to the new parents, $50 is the recommended amount. With this amount, you can easily invest in nice practical gifts such as a baby gate or nappy bag.


According to the 2018 Commonwealth Bank Christmas Consumer Spending Study, the average Australian spent on average $500-$600 in total on Christmas gifts. You don’t have to fork out this much, so save your wallet the damage and set up a good budget.

For immediate family and friends, consider spending around $50. For kids and extended family, $30 is the appropriate amount.

Gifts for children’s birthday parties

Maybe you have a kid who is at the age where they’re coming back from school with a new birthday party invite every week. Spending copious amounts on plastic toys and gadgets that they’ll undoubtedly break is not worth it. Aim to spend between $20-$30 per child.

Consider opting to make arts and craft hampers or invest in books, rather than that expensive Lego set that they’ll abandon after one day.  

Gifts for your significant other  

If you have a significant other, anniversaries and Valentine’s day comes with the obligation of buying a super nice gift. You want to get them something that shows them that you really care, but you don’t know how to do so without splurging. In cases of relationships, the determinant factor is how serious the relationship really is. If you’ve just started dating, aim to spend around $30-$50 on a gift.

For more serious relationships, between $50-$100 or even a little higher is acceptable. But remember, a cheap yet thoughtful gift can be just as effective as one that is super expensive.


For birthdays, aim to spend between $30-$60 depending on how close you are to the person. Take into account whether it’s a milestone birthday as well. 50th and 21st birthdays usually call for nicer gifts. A good idea is to organise a joint present with all your friends. Between four friends you could buy a $100 gift, while only cashing out $25 each – not only will your friend receive a nicer present, but you’ll end up spending less!

Now that the dilemma between ‘how can I buy a present that doesn’t make me look stingy but also isn’t too harsh on my wallet’ has been resolved, enjoy gift shopping free of any buyer’s regret!

Words by Vidya Kathirgamalingam

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