How much is a reasonable amount of money to spend on presents for the kids at Christmas?
Obviously the answer to that depends entirely on your own personal circumstances, from how many children you have to what your household income is.
So to put it another way, is spoiling your children at Christmas - however you define that - just part of the fun of being a parent, or is it a slippery slope towards unreasonable expectations and over-indulged kids? Not to mention debt.
Judging by the impassioned debate the Playpennies team had on this very topic today, it's an issue which divides parents and which many of us have strong opinions on.
I'm going to come right out and say that I don't believe in going mad with lavish spending on the kids at Christmas. Even if I had several hundred pounds burning a hole in my pocket, I couldn't in any good conscience buy my nine-year-old the Xbox One for Christmas that I know would top his wish list if money were no object.
Why? Mainly because if I spent £300 on one child I'd feel the need to do the same for the rest of my kids, and £900 on Christmas pressies for pre-teens just feels obscene to me. It's just excessive.
However, I get that you can spend a fortune on the kids at Christmas without that being an empty gesture; plenty of parents who go mad with the present-buying are lavishing love and attention on their kids at the same time so it's not the case that piles of pressies are always an effort to 'buy' a child's affection.
But if you buy a 9-year-old an Xbox for Christmas, what does he ask for when he's 16? And where do you stop? Why can't he have a Swegway too? When do you say No?
How do you sustain that kind of giving if the household income ever takes a turn for the worse? I'd worry that a child of mine who was 'spoiled' with piles of presents whilst at pre-school might grow up to be an adult who expects an awful lot from the world.
It seems I'm in a minority, though. I've got good friends who routinely spend £900 on one child at Christmas, and I know plenty of families whose shopping bill stretches well into the thousands on presents for the kids at Christmas. Little wonder that they can't see why I begrudge my boy an Xbox from Santa.
And come Christmas Eve, when the world and its mother will share snaps on social media of the innumerable presents piled under the tree for the kids, I'll start to feel like a total Scrooge and wonder if I'm just a mean old mum.
This year, that feeing started early when one mum's post of the Christmas pressies she's stock-piled for her kids beneath her Christmas tree went viral, kicking off a furore about whether spoiling your kids at Christmas is tantamount to abuse.
The Sun reports:
"A GENEROUS mum-of-three who bought 300 Christmas presents for her kids has hit back at haters who accused her of spoiling them. Emma Tapping, from the Isle of Man, posted a photo of her Christmas tree swamped by an enormous pile of gifts on social media last week. The image went viral and she has since been accused of "abusing" her children."
The abuse language strikes me as incomprehensibly absurd and frankly offensive so Im leaving that aside. But as Emma explained when she appeared on ITV's This Morning, she starts her Christmas shopping in the January sales and consults money-saving websites (like Playpennies, we hope!) throughout the year to bag herself bargains so that she can treat the kids to around 85 presents each which, in total, cost less than £1,500.
That puts my Xbox veto in a whole new perspective. But while I think it's a shame that anyone would judge Emma, who is clearly busting her guts to give her kids the best Christmas money can buy, I'm still not convinced that giving kids scores of presents at Christmas is a good idea.
That said, I'm not going to judge the mums or dads who splash the cash at Christmas. Even if I win the lottery I can't see myself ever budgeting into the thousands for Christmas pressies for the kids, but to judge or criticise those who do seems pretty mean-spirited to me.
Almost, in fact, as mean-spirited as refusing to oblige a small boy who's wishing for an Xbox for Christmas.
TOPICS: Christmas UK