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Christmas Budgets

December 11th, 2018 at 07:42 am

I was at an event this weekend where a lesson on Christmas budgeting was presented. It was short, but excellent. That is what has inspired this post.

Our Christmas budget the last several years has been $600. These are the funds to cover gifts and shipping costs for nine people. I save $50 each month from our paychecks so the money is available when it's time to shop.

The lesson presented asked people to think of ALL the costs they may incur during the holiday season. Not just the gifts, but the wrapping, baking and food, travel, postage, clothing, electricity and fuel for our cars. I know that my budget does not reflect all of these costs. I seem to be able to absorb them into our regular spending, but they are important to pay attention to when planning.

Depending on where you are in your shopping, it isn't too late to step back and make a Christmas budget. Figure what you have already spent, and how much you have available to spend. Try to finish within those parameters, even if it means returning someone's gift and getting something else so you will spend less. There are so many great deals this time of year, that gift can cost less than you think. Of course, the deals can pull you in and convince you to spend more, so be strong and stick to your plan.

Dollar Tree isn't my favorite store, but I find myself there every holiday season to get a good deal and help me stay within budget. It can be great for paper products, and stocking stuffers. Of course, not everything is a good deal there, so it is still important to pay attention to prices!

I think the key to staying within a reasonable budget for Christmas is having the fewest number of people to buy for. At least it helped us. We stopped giving to most of our nieces and nephews and exchanging adult gifts. We still give to our parents, our children, two nieces (recently adopted) and buy a gift for ourselves.

We do not buy new holiday decorations each year. The exception is one ornament for each of the girls, but those are usually less than $10 for both. We give cookies to friends, neighbors and coworkers. I send a limited number (less than five some years) of Christmas cards, that I usually buy on clearance after Christmas. I reuse Christmas gift bags and tissue, and usually only buy a roll or two of Christmas gift wrap every two or three years (again, on clearance). I chose gifts that are somewhat lightweight to save on shipping, although Flat Rate boxes from the post office do help (the items just have to fit). We also do not entertain at our place, not because we are grinches, but because family is not nearby.

At a minimum, we can all start a new plan to budget for the next year. As soon as the spending is over this year, review what was purchased and how much it cost. That total divided by 12 will be a great guideline for how much to save each month in order to be prepared for next year. Save it in an envelope or a seperate checking or savings account, so you will not spend it until it is time. After the holiday is also a good time to discuss with family members about how you might want to change the gift giving parameters for the future.

Tell me about your Christmas Budget. Do you have one? What is included. If you don't have one, tell me about that too.

8 Responses to “Christmas Budgets”

  1. Sarah Says:

    This year we saved £100 in high Street vouchers, and used amazon gift cards to buy presents. I also got a lot of the kids' presents from the nearly new baby and kids market. Next year I'll have to save some actual cash because the vouchers can only be used in certain shops. In fact,I'll be starting a sinking fund for it next month.

  2. laura Says:


    We spent $105 on each child x4 ($420). Gifts were: Under Armor work out clothes for D, Urban Outfitter sweaters for M, memory for the gaming system he is building for E, and a gaming chair for A. This is the one gift from Santa/parents. = $420

    We also do an Advent Buddy/Secret Santa with a $30 limit/member for our immediate family. We have spent $60 on a new blow dryer for D and another gaming component for E. If someone is short in their funds to purchase their Buddy's gift, we encourage working for grandma and grandpa to supplement. = $60

    DH and I don't exchange gifts as there isn't anything we need or want. We anticipate spending once we are in the the new house hopefully by this summer.

    We spend $15/parent and there are 5. = $75

    We host a Christmas brunch and I have already purchased the ham. I would anticipate another $50 for the rest of dinner and baking/candy making. = $65

    We are skipping cards (the two people I enjoyed sending to died this past year), teachers and bosses gifts, and other nonsense. We will donate $25 to our parish.

    Total $635. Paid for all with cash. No credit cards used.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    @Sarah, yes, I would like the cash flexibility too. Smart to start that sinking fund now.

    @laura, fantastic! You did wonderful with your budget. My husband and I had many years where we didn't buy ourselves gifts, but we decided that we can still buy something we may need or have wanted within reason and treat ourselves once a year. What did you buy the Grandparents?

  4. Jenn Says:

    I do have a Christmas budget. I don't consider all my purchases to be frugal, but I want to have awareness of the overall costs. It's so easy to lose sight of it or just to think of the gifts. My budget includes my kids gifts and stocking items, the tree, decorations, postage, supplies, gifts for mail lady, garbage pickup guys, serious GFs of my boys, family gifts (I buy a live wreath for the grandparents from LL Bean), cookies from the church sale, gifts for charity - church giving tree and family adopted by sports team, special ingredients for Christmas dinner. Also Christmas cards. Our tradition is to take a family picture on Thanksgiving morning and use it to create our Christmas card on Shutterfly.

    It all adds up!

  5. livingalmostlarge Says:

    I think $500 gifts and then $500 stuff like tree, cards, stamps, paper, teacher gifts, etc. I mean seriously the photo cards we do is expensive at 50 cents per stamp! Then the card itself. I think we spend about $100 on just cards at $1 a card and stamp. YIKES. Then the teacher gifts and stuff like that do add up. They really, really do. Plus eating out and going to parties or taking gifts to parties, or other stuff.

    lego advents $60, $300 kids gifts ($150 each), parents are $100 total, then we are going to buy a tree $50, and outing $120, etc. There is a lot of costs.

  6. CB in the City Says:

    I had Amazon gift cards which allowed me to order gifts for eight people at about $30 apiece. These were free to me. In real money I spent $29 on postage, and bought other gifts which totaled about $90. I am still planning to buy a gift card for Chinese food for Christmas Day -- not sure how much I will spend on that. I didn't spend anything on wrap or decorations this year.

    This being my gap year, it is an unusual year. I usually spend more.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    @Jenn, I'm sure not all of my Christmas spending isn't frugal either, but at least we aren't in debt over our purchases!

    @LAL, there are definitely a lot of costs! I know we will probably spend more with our girls home for the holidays...checking out a new town and so forth.

    @CB, good job planning ahead with your gap year...accumulating gift cards was smart. I used to do that with Swagbucks accumulate cash for Christmas. So helpful!

  8. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I don't have a Christmas budget. The only person I have to get a gift for is my mom - everyone else understands that I don't expect anything from them, and they don't expect anything from me. The only way this'll change is if my brother and his wife have kids. Then I may go a little wild. Smile

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