The amount we fork over for Christmas gifts has gone up every year since 2008.

The iPads, flat screen TVs, and video game must-haves ain't cheap! When you add up the hot electronics, the ugly sweaters, and the popcorn tin gift sets, we're spending just shy of a thousand bucks on Christmas.

American Research Group says the average American spent $646 on holiday gifts last year. In 2012, that's going to go up to about $854 in gifts for friends and loved ones. (And ourselves! See the "self-gifting blog I posted earlier this week. While we're out shopping for others, most of us are picking up a little something for ourselves too.)

The research says we're spending more now because we have more post-recession confidence, and the onslaught of ads for big sales, free shipping, and add-on gift cards are doing their job. We're taking the advice of the stores and buying now.

How much do you spend on the kids? American Research Group says the average parent spends $271 per child. Furbys and Wii U's add up! Some parents even say they'll spend more than $500 per child. Those of us with three kids or more are squashing that idea.

Maybe they should change the words of that song, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," to something more appropriate. It IS wonderful, but it's also "The Most Expensive Time of the Year."

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