How We Handle Sibling Gifts in a Large Family

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I only have one sister, so sibling Christmas gifts were always easy growing up. Even now, we still love getting each other something special each year, but now include each other’s families. Still feels pretty easy as we almost always do a general “kid gift” instead of a bunch of individual things.

Dan, on the other hand, has 4 siblings. Gifts have never been big at all in their family, though, so he and his siblings almost never get each other Christmas or birthday gifts. It’s also totally fine as no one expects anything so no one feels disappointed. It works for their family!

Our Kids Love Gifting!

Fast forward to our own family with 5 little kiddos who happen to really love thinking of gifts. I’m not totally sure how it happened, but they all love to spend a good bit of December planning Christmas crackers, little treats and handmade things for stockings, and choosing out gifts they know their siblings will love. They truly look forward to the gifting far more than they look forward to opening their own gifts on Christmas Day!

Because they’re so enthusiastic about it, I definitely don’t want to curb their desire to show love in a way that makes them happy. But I also don’t want to accumulate tons of stuff, nor do I want them to feel pressured to spend a year’s worth of family economy money exclusively on gift purchases. And it feels overwhelming and less enjoyable to all of us when we have tons and tons of gifts to get through on a birthday or Christmas morning!

Kids Sibling Gifts For Birthdays

For birthdays, our kids generally make each other handmade cards, spend the day together making the birthday sibling feel special, and often make some sort of handmade game or toy. They’ve done things like a scavenger hunt, a board game, or a handmade fidget spinner.

It’s so sweet seeing what they come up with, and the birthday kid always feels special and remembered. We always have the birthday child open up all the sibling gifts first so they’re fresh and excited and none of them are overshadowed by parent or grandparent gifts.

How We Organized Kids Sibling Gifts For Christmas

For Christmas a few years ago, a couple of our older kids (who were probably 5 & 7 or so at the time) really wanted to purchase something special for their then-two little brothers. They were so excited about it! They had worked hard all year to help out the family, so we figured they could decide if that was a good use of the family money they were entrusted to manage.

The next year, our 3rd kiddo, who was 4 at the time, wanted to get in on the gift giving love, and it just felt like it was getting to be a bit much. This was especially true since we knew we’d have a 4th kiddo wanting to jump into the mix soon enough. So we decided to broach the idea of a rotating sibling gift exchange.

Sibling Secret Santa Gift Exchange

We’ve never done Santa in our home, but we love the idea that St. Nick inspires generosity and kindness. And “Secret Santa” is just an easily understood and commonly used phrase for the type of gift exchange we set up for our kids. 🙂

Each year, our kids each write their names on a little piece of paper and we stick them all in a Santa hat. Then they each pull one out to find out to whom they are gifting (they stick it back in if they get their own name, of course). We don’t actually keep the names a surprise since with little kids, it’s very unlikely they’d stay hidden, haha! (We tried one year and it failed within a day or two.) So everyone knows who has the others, but they do a good job of keeping the actual gifts a secret.

Sibling Gift Exchange Spending Limit

We always set a limit of $20-25 for the sibling Secret Santa gift exchange. This way, no one feels pressure to spend a ton of money, but it allows them to focus that amount on one gift instead of a bunch of little trinkets for each of their siblings.

Our kids ages 5+ always use some of their family economy money on their siblings. We encourage them throughout the year to manage that portion of the family money well, and they’ve never had an issue of not having enough in the account for a sibling gift. They always feel so incredibly proud to pull from that money and to not just have money given to them!

We always give money to our kiddos younger than 5 to be able to participate in the sibling gift exchange.

Type of Gifts For A Sibling Gift Exchange for Kids

Dan and I always have a little convo with our kiddos individually to help them think through some of their sibling’s interests. They’re also really good about paying attention to ideas or excitement that may come up so they can be thoughtful in their gift giving. This year, we’re steering them in the direction of experience gifts, as well, so it can be something memorable to enjoy together.

Here are some of the things our kids have gifted each other!

I can’t wait to see what our kids come up with this year!

Does your family from growing up do sibling gifts? If you have your own children, what do they do? I’d love to hear your experiences!



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