Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday Progress

After years of spending (way) too much on the holidays, & having a house full of stuff no one really used, several years ago we trimmed way back. My immediate family agreed not to exchange gifts (we'd previously been doing name draws) for the adults. There are, of course, some people (like my lovely grandmother) who refuses to stop purchasing gifts for her kids & grand kids, even though we're all fully grown.

Each year, I closely track how much we spend, create a detailed list & budget for the following year with notes & explanations of what worked & didn't work as well. If you'd asked me for my "budget" (in the loosest sense of the term) six or so years back, I would have put it at $3,500. I managed to cut it back to $2,500 from there, and for the last few years, we've spent $1,500. This includes everything - food, decorations, the tree, postage, holiday cards, gifts, etc.

I'm very pleased, because my goal has been to get the budget below $1,000, & I think this will be the year that I'm finally successful! :-)

Here's how each line item breaks out:

  • M - $100
  • S (oldest, he's six) - $150
  • N (he's 5) - $150
  • Nephew 1 (he's 10) - $30
  • Nephew 2 (he's 8) - $30
  • H1 (friend of the family, she's 12) - $30
  • H2 (friend of the family, she's 9) - $30
  • Grandmother - $25
  • Grandmother's husband  $20
  • Aunt (one of my aunts really struggles financially, so we always buy her a gift card for the grocery store) - $25
  • Tip for cleaning lady - $50
  • Sandwich trays that we bring to our festivities - $100
  • Christmas cards - $20
  • Stocking items for the four boys (mine + my nephews) - $120
  • Stocking items for M - $50

Total = $930, so quite a bit of wiggle room in case I go over in any one category. M & I are also talking about not getting each other anything & instead replacing the flooring in our basement. (I know, we're very romantic), so that money would come out of our home improvement budget. Our big vacation together in less than a week is definitely gift enough.

Here's what I have so far:
  • A Nerf gun set for each nephew - $22.50, so will pick up something small to go with it.
  • Infinity scarves for H1 & H2 - $20.80
  • A necklace for H1 - free when I purchased another gift at American Eagle a while back
  • An origami book/craft set for S - $16.50
  • A bead craft set for N - $9.70
  • A Beyblade stadium & set for S (from Santa) - $36
  • A sleeveless shirt & basketball shorts for N (he's obsessed with wearing these) for his stocking - $11

So, that's how things net out. Any money leftover will be used to increase our food pantry donation. Win/win!

We're focusing this year on simplifying the holidays as much as possible. We're very lucky & live about five minutes away from a fantastic Christmas parade that runs every night between Thanksgiving & December 23rd. We take the boys as often as possible, & the magic of the drummers & lights & snowfall (from a machine) is our favorite part of the holiday. We also try to catch the Christmas boat festival, & spend time decorating our tree, making cookies, & enjoying Christmas Eve & Day with my family. I *love* the holidays.

What about you? Have you started thinking about your budget? Are you like some overachievers, & almost done? ;-)


  1. The parade sounds fantastic! You are lucky!

  2. Thank you for having stopped by and leaving a "note". It is nice to get a budget and start on Christmas shopping a bit early. I am not really a big fan of all the crowds at the last minute if it can be avoided. I am hoping my Grand Boys will be coming to our house this Christmas. And baking I need to think about a list and supplies for that as I pkg up tins and give to family and friends every year (including the mail person).

  3. Our gift budget has gone a similar way - I'm still horrified by how much we used to spend!

    I've done a budget for everything and I'm determined to finish my shopping this month so that I can relax and just enjoy it all in December.