Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas spending details

I always find it fascinating to hear about how others spend their Christmas budget (the nitty gritty details!), so I thought I'd share my budget, as well as the gifts we've purchased. I'm mostly done for the year, so this represents 95% of our Christmas plans.

Our overall Christmas budget for the year is $2,380. This may seem insanely high (it is!), but there's a lot included here:

  • $605 - Christmas gifts. We buy for a very limited number of adults, so this also includes our giving tree gifts, as well as Christmas cards.
  • $100 - Our contribution for the holiday festivities. We fly, so I am not able to bring food & wine, as I normally would contribute. Instead, I give my mom money to offset her costs. 
  • $25 - a nanny bonus. We've really struggled with our nanny this year. In previous years, we've gone to $500, so this is very reflective of our satisfaction with our nanny. :-(. I may go higher, should things improve. 
  • $150 - a car rental while we're at my parents house, but mostly for our trip to our vacation house while we're there. 
  • $200 - beach house expenses. There are always expenses associated with a trip to the vacation house. Pantry stock up, toilet paper, etc. 
  • $1300 - flights for four from San Francisco to Portland. 

The above was our initial budget. In the end, there are always tweaks based on how much I really spend, etc. We ended up using frequent flier miles for the flights, and paying just $44.80 for the taxes, for the tickets. The car rental, on the other hand, was over $100 more than expected. Lesson learned! 

Now that I'm mostly done with my shopping & preparations, I'm expecting to spend around $1350-$1400. The reason for this was the flights, of course, which absorbed some other areas of overage. I was able to donate more to various charities (food pantry, toy drive, etc) as well as pick up additional gifts for my disabled aunt. I purchased a few extra gift cards that my mom will hand out throughout the year. (Giving them to her all at once isn't a good option). 

So, what kind of gifts do we give for that budget? Well, let me break it down into a bit more specificity. Some of the non immediate family gifts are shared with my sister, so if the dollar values look strange, that is likely why. 

  • For my husband - this year, we agreed not to buy gifts. I did buy him $20 worth of local jam. He loves jam on his bread in the morning, and I'm not diligent enough to make my own. ;-) 
  • For my older nephew - I bought him a wifi booster, so he can do homework in his room with. I also got him a gift card. Total spent = $47.
  • For my younger nephew - I got him a gift card & a lego set. Total spent = $40.
  • For my aunt - I spent the most on her this year, as she is really struggling, and has very  little support system outside of my family. I got her $100 of gift cards, plus socks & a new mixer. Total spent = $132.
  • For Sam - he got an iPod (no gaming/texting, just the ability to listen to music), and a gift card for a trip to the movies. (A rare treat at our house). Total spent = $115. 
  • For Nick - he got a suitcase (his choice :-)), and a movies gift card. Total spent = $115.
  • For my dad - this is rare, we don't typically purchase for parents, but my sister found a great gift & asked if I would be interested in going in with her. It's a beer growler/chiller of some sort. Total spent = $25.
  • For my step grandfather - again, we normally don't buy for adults, but he is all alone in the world & now that my grandmother is gone, won't have anyone to purchase gifts for him. We bought him ingredients to make his favorite martini & a deck of cards. Total spent = $17.
  • For the daughters of my best friend - I got them scarves & gloves. I may add in a small gift card for each of them. Total spent = $32 (together)
  • Stocking gifts - The four kids in our family (my two + my sister's two) get stockings. Each family (my family, my sister's family & my parents) contribute two stocking items for each child. We try to keep the dollar value low, while still getting things people want. This is getting more challenging as the boys get older, so we may abandon this next year & opt for something else. For this year, I ended up with books, "tall socks - the cool Nike kind", and gift cards. Total spent = $76. 
That's it for us! As per our usual policy for the holiday, any money leftover in our holiday fund at the end of the year will be donated to a food pantry. It's a big incentive for me to save money! This year, i was also able to apply a few random gift cards & Amazon credits to my purchases, as well as find discounted gift cards, etc. Every dollar helps. What about you? I'd love to hear about your budget, as well as what kind of gifts you typically purchase. 


  1. I'll play! DH and I are empty nesters, with two adult DDs, one SIL, and two precious GDs. I set a defined gift amount for each year, $2000 for this year, with whatever is left going to Christmas gifts, at least half of that, sometimes a bit more than half. This year turned out wonky as you'll see below.

    DH and I no longer exchange gifts in that we are at that point where we're shedding stuff rather than buying it. We did, however, use some of our excess Electronics budget to purchase matching Garmin fitbit-like wristbands. They arrive today, so that should be fun.
    DD#1- Purchased a California State Park pass for $195. She lives near the coast now, and is an avid runner and hiker, so I think (I hope!) she is going to love this gift. With parking at our State beaches running from $15 to $20 per day, this should give her lots and lots of beachy fun in 2017.
    DD#2 & SIL- Purchased a treadmill as their joint gift, which will also be their 2017 Christmas gift in that it cost just under $800. They have recently moved to snow country and I know they will appreciate and get much use from this gift, as will we when we visit.
    GD#1 & GD#2 - a kitchen play set to share, plus lots of pretend food and pots and pans to go with. Plus, because we love, love, love buying for them, the classic Fisher Price record player for 2-year old GD#2, and a Woodzeez Travel Trailer play set for 6-year old GD#1. Can hardly wait to play all of these with both of them on Christmas morning. About $250 for everything.
    Shut-in Sister-in-law: A year's subscription to CBS Online, since she has WiFi only, not cable. Cost for this will be $72, but, nicely, we can use it as well because it allows for two simultaneous streamings (And we likewise don't have cable)
    My dad- $100 in Omaha Steak items. While we don't technically exchange birthday or Christmas gifts with my dad any any longer, he loves getting these so darn much, compared to the meat he would normally purchase at the market, that I really enjoy continuing to gift them to him each year.
    Service gifts- $0. We 'laid off' our housecleaners, and our shared hair-stylist is new to us both, so none of these in 2016.

    That's it for gift outlays, though I do purchase a good amount of theater and music tickets at this time of year for our own, sometimes family usage. I budget those to Entertainment, however, not Gift.

    Otherwise, I make a lot of food items - tamales, specialty cookies, candy - that I gift to friends and neighbors.

  2. Approximately $1100 a year. $100 cash per adult kid, $50 in small gifts per adult kid (primarily because 2 are coming at Christmas, usually we just give $150 a year). This sounds generous but we have never ever spoiled them except one large gift at Christmas. My Motherinlaw - $30, a very fuzzy throw and a stuffy (she has alzheimers and loved the textures, can no longer walk or read so limited), my Mom antique mixing bowl $16 and adoption fee on a cat (did this last year but the poor thing died after 6 months of heart failure) which I think is about $80, we are buying ourselves a vintage record player as our gift to each other, nephew $50. The rest goes towards a family supper in a restaurant in Alberta this weekend and expenses associated with traveling, although this year we are making the company pick up the hotel and car rental since we are so busy and hubby did business a few days before I fly in tomorrow. Our charity I don't include as we are trying to spread that out more in the year. I do like to give to the food bank in December though, they do have their highest need in December and January. I made popcorn twist toffee (Christmas crack) for my Motherinlaw and nephew - she used to love this, hopefully she still will.

  3. Forgot to also mention we bought $100 in new Christmas lights...something we haven't done in years as the only additions usually come from the thrift store for less than $10 each year (making money on the side now looking for stuff for me and buying for the public lol)

  4. We stayed at $600 this year - I'll post the details on my blog after Christmas because I think at least a couple of the girls read my blog! You did a great job though.

    P.S. Just wanted you to know that I posted the recipe for the Cheeseburger Pie at the bottom of the comment section for the weekly menu! I hope you all like it!