I feel like we really scaled down Christmas this year. I was mindful about what I bought the kids (3) and dh, making sure to not bring more junk into our home, trying to buy things that I think they will use, not just buying stuff for the sake of having a gift to give, etc. They spent more on me than usual, but it was mainly shirts/sweaters which I was in desperate need of.
After the holidays I went through and made a list of what we spent on Christmas related things...tree, letter/photos, postage, gifts, events, extra baking supplies, stocking stuffers, charity donation, etc. I was shocked that it was $1000. That seems like so much for one holiday. Granted it is a super fun holiday and many special memories are made, but that is a lot of money. I put aside $ each paycheck so we didn't go into debt over the holiday, but I just wonder about the amount.
It just got me thinking. I did buy a few thrift store gifts for the kids this year. I know I could keep my eyes out for more and have a larger percentage of the gifts come from there, but that does take time, plus if you find something in March you have to hang onto/hide it for 9 months. Is that worth it? I don't know. I also like to wait until after the birthdays (July and October) to see what they really need and are interested in. It is iffy with just a few months if you'd find the right things at thrift stores.
Part of me just wants to say, "let's just continue being mindful, have a fun holiday, and not go into debt." I think I'm just letting the $1000 number freak me out and I find myself feeling guilty for spending so much.
I would love to hear other Mama thoughts on this topic. Do you worry about the total amount spent? Do you shop at thrift stores and save things for months and months? Have you found a way to just "let go" and have fun, not worrying about the money part of it.
Mama to Ainsley (7/01) , Finley (10/06) and Jade (10/06)
I budget for the holiday. I do what you just did and determine if the budget worked/didn't work and then I set the amount. I have a separate ING saving account that we contribute to thru out the year. Having a set budget up front does allow to me to "let go and have fun". It means no debt hangover in January and it means that I can relax and not try to cover all the expense in one or two months.
I also do buy things thru out the year and come late summer start judging what I can buy in advance. Bigger ticket items are often cheaper at back to school time than the holiday. I do lots of research on those items.
Through the year I like to pick up cool things for the stockings. ie: was at the party store today and all Christmas stuff was 75% off and I found some fun snowman pencils and erasers that I will put away for next year. If we take any trips during the year I usually squirrel away mementos (t-shirts, magnets, etc). All of this comes from the Christmas fund.
Any "needs" after school starts are usually reserved for under the tree. Socks, undies, clothes, boots, etc. These just come from our regular monthly budget.
I also make sure our monthly food budget allows for bigger expense in the 4th quarter due to Thanksgiving, holiday baking, celebratory dinners, New Years, etc. This is another things that let me just relax and enjoy the holiday! No wondering how I am going to pay that huge BJ's and Whole Foods run!
I do leave a good 25-35% of the budget to spend "last minute". This helps too because it lets me be a little impulsive/frivolous and pick up things "just because".
Pardon me while I
I'm kind of thinking about it. I kind of want to do all homemade gifts so the earlier I start the easier it will be! We thankfully didn't spend much but we didn't have much so it worked out. My sisters and I talked about pulling names for the adults so everyone has fewer gifts to buy. I should probably see if that is what we'll be doing so I don't make a bunch of gifts that won't be needed at Christmas.
E, wife to D, mommy to G (born March 2010).
I'm thinking about it already too! I planned ahead throughout the year for my own kids (stockpiled toys in a box in the spare room). But my issue is that we have a huge extended family, and there are a gazillion little kids whom we buy little gifts for. SIL and I wanted to suggest a secret santa, but neither of us had the ovaries to be the 'bad guy' who admits we don't have the money to spend on all these kids! I panic-bought a bunch of cheap gifts for them 2 days before xmas, and then felt awful about giving them crappy presents in the name of frugality. Oh, the shame. SO, to avoid a repeat of this next xmas, I just now went on amazon's clearance sale and bought xmas and bday gifts for all of them for this next year, and even a xmas gift for a little cousin who is still in utero. I also found a bday present for my son (kid-sized wheelbarrow- nice!).
I spent about $70 online on these 14 gifts, which I know is much less than what I would spend panic-buying at the last minute the way I usually do. I plan to stow them away in the xmas corner, and pull out a gift anytime there is a cousin bday. (All the little cousins are boys 4 and under, which makes it pretty easy to stock up ahead of time).
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
I like to plan ahead, although it was much easier when DS was smaller. Next year he will be ELEVEN (gosh how did that happen) and his likes/needs change. But I do shop sales, and I have drastically cut back on what he gets. This year he preferred books, legos and some specific framed artwork for the most part.
I dont really send things to anyone else. DS is the only child in the family and I dont send to my sister or parents so its really just my son who I buy for.
I try to craft when appropriate and I love making things.
Next year I hope to have more homemade stuff for holiday helper. I was sad I couldnt offer much this year.
Mom to J and never-ending , 0/2014 items decluttered, 0/52 crafts crafts completed
Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam
I didn't go in debt either but bought more gifts than I think I should have. I cannot do my son yet though as I don't know what he'll want. We spent more I think because we could afford it but I still think it is wasteful. I just bought all the birthday presents for the year and some of the Christmas as well. So, I have 1 gift for a nephew left and some more for my son and 1 yo(who will be 2 then). Although, the 1 yo probably won't get much besides a book. I want to keep with the theme of something to play with, something to wear, something to read and something that is art or music. The books will be bought used on Amazon. What to wear I will have to see our needs come next year. Art/music will depend on what they seem to be interested in next year. This year ds got a drawing set as that is what he has been into lately, who knows what will happen next.
We stopped years ago exchanging with anyone outside our immed family because we would get stuff that would just be stuffed into the closest with exception to a few gift cards here and there. Also, the cost like pp has stated.
So, since we are not buying for anyone, we can deliver a tray of holiday cookies to any party, teachers also get this gift.
But for my dds. I shop literally all year round. I bought one gift in July on amazon that I knew my dd2 wanted. Had it shipped to DH's office and then we hid it in the garage until Dec 23rd when he put it together. hid in spare bathroom shower covered with white sheet. With the shower curtain closed always, no one thought to look in there.
Last Sept, American Girl had a clearance and I had a code for free shipping. Bought all kinds of stuff for dd1 and sent it again to dh's office. Wrapped all during their schoolday and hid under bed well before thanksgiving with wrapping paper bought the year before on clearance.
In oct, DD1 saw a great robe she wanted, had it shipped home and wrapped. I shop all year for stuff they would enjoyy, incl clothing etc so its all paid for by Nov. We still usually end up spending on something xmas week, but its a small amount for somethin last minute. Its the only way we could do xmas is like this and not have to pay after the fact.
If you do buy gifts ahead, make yourself a note so you remember what you got and where you hid it. (Yes, I speak from experience! )
Let's see: $1000 is about $20/week for the year. And some of that probably is money you would have spent anyway: if there wasn't a holiday, you still might buy some toys, go to some events, etc. If your budget can handle $20/week, you're ok. If not, look at places to scale down or a way to earn a bit more Xmas cash.
I guess it depends if that $1000 brought you close to the edge or if you still had a ton of wiggle room. That amount sounds like a lot to me, but if it wasn't a strain for you, I wouldn't worry about it & keep doing what you're doing.
Also keep in mind what you are spending the money on. If half of that $1000 was "Secret Santa" type gifts where there was a set dollar amount to spend, then no matter how you adjust your spending, that $500 would still be allotted for something. If most of that $1K was on travel to visit family, you don't have much room to cut back (aside from not visiting them). I don't know if I'm making sense. I guess I'm saying, figure out how much of that $1000 is really in your control -- not that anyone is forcing you to spend it, but hopefully you know what I mean!
You can also shop Christmas clearance sales now to save next year & beyond. Get a fake tree, fake wreaths, etc. Buy your Christmas cards now for next year, pick up some generic holiday gift sets if those are things you normally give... things like that. You can buy 'forever' stamps now to save on postage if the price of stamps goes up, or switch to online greeting cards.
This year I made DS's gifts. I started in August but did the bulk of the work a few days before Christmas lol. To me, it just wasn't worth starting so early (and I only did that because I was working on projects with a friend & that's when she wanted to start). I think too that shopping too early might lead you to ultimately spend more, because when December comes and you start hearing Christmas carols & all, you might feel like you want to buy 'just a few more things for each kid' to get yourself more in the Christmas spirit. If part of your Christmas preparations include "buying" -- no matter how much you love or hate that aspect of it -- it could be hard to recondition yourself to NOT buy during December.
Not crazy to start thinking now at all - I picked up next years stocking stuffers in the after sales this year, except for candy. Picked up a couple gifts on sale cheap too.
I shop all year round for good items both new and used, then when it's a birthday or Christmas I just go out to the correct tote in the garage and see what we've got.
Me, 30 single mama to T age 8 We and Love it!
Thanks Mamas for all of the thoughtful replies. Crunchy_mommy, I agree with what you said, $1000 can be spent a lot of different ways. Just for conversation's sake, here is the breakdown of our spending this year:
baking supplies 40
bags/boxes 10 (for cookies and treats we give to family/neighbors)
theater 80 (we like to go to a show at a local theater during the month)
stockings (5 people) 60
santa gifts 90 (30 per child)
gifts for us 500 (basically $100 per person, 3 children, 2 adults)
3 cousin gifts 45
charity/grandparents 120 (We made a donation in our extended family's name to a local family shelter instead of giving them gifts. This covers 10 people.)
Obviously, the gift giving within our family is the largest part of our budget.
I have been thinking today about your replies about buying things throughout the year. I especially liked the idea of souvenirs from trips. How fun and a way to bring back memories from the year. I also liked the idea of buying most of it throughout the year when you see sales, etc. and then saving aside a little for closer to Christmas for something you know they are hoping for.
I'm loving this conversation!
Mama to Ainsley (7/01) , Finley (10/06) and Jade (10/06)
about the 1000-- I think it has to do with your priorities. Is this 1000 in line with your priorities? There's no right or wrong answer, but I don't think that 'as long as you aren't going in debt, its ok'.
We don't do a large christmas, for obvious reasons. We'd rather spend on other holidays or travel.
Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdad and mom to DS 24 months, and DD 8 months! .
If you can do it and don't really "mind" it then Id say its fine. We spent a bunch this year (fake tree, lights, wreath holders) that we won't spend next year but Im sure we will end up spending on other decorations.
Shopping in advance doesn't really work really well for us. First, we are moving this next year and the girls will help me unpack everything so they would end up seeing them if I bought them. Also, its just one more thing to pack and unpack. Second, Im bad at giving the girls things when I know they will like them and we need some distraction (like the 15th day in a row where its pouring down rain). Third, even though they are young the girls interests change over the year. For example, last year my oldest was given a camera that she had no interest in, ended up going missing on one of our flights. This year its all shes asked for for her birthday (funny because she didn't want it for Christmas, however we didn't find out about the move until after Christmas shopping was done). My youngest didn't have any interests and now shes obsessed with monkeys, anything and everything she can see/learn/read/play with etc that has to do with monkeys.
This next year we are planning on doing a mostly home made Christmas. Family is the easiest because all the women get the same thing and all the men get the same thing. Everyone (both men and women) got homemade journals this year. Next year the women are getting jewerly organizers (with a handmade necklace, earrings and bracelet set) and all the men are getting apron/mitt sets. The girls will be the hardest and so will the baby. Im thinking of doing a doll house for the girls but we might get them that as a moving gift (since everything has to be packed and won't be there until months after we do we want to get them something to play with that is new/fun while they wait).
I think one other issue you have to be cautious about with buying ahead is the potential to end up with way too much, because "after all, we only spent half the budget, we can go overboard as long as we stay under the budget!" -- or losing track of how much you've bought/spent/etc. and overbuying. If you can stay organized and disciplined (stick to X gifts per child), this could work out great for you :)
This year was really hard for me financially ~ I'm intending on putting some savings by every month over the next 12 months to cover such things as birthdays and Christmas! The leaving it all until the last minute thing killed me this year.
After thinking about it, I think our family of 5 spent about the same amount on Christmas. $120-ish per child, $140 for hubby, slightly more for me I think (hubby bought me diamond earrings, first jewelry he's bought me since our engagement, money has been tight for years), the tree, a wreath (was a donation, went to a high school music program), baking and dinner supplies, gifts for a few other family members, a few other small donations...
It adds up, but we didn't feel that we went beyond what we could afford. And we felt good about Christmas. I think it was a very appropriate Christmas.
RT knitting mama to 3 (& 8 who didn't make it) wife working on 13 years to a silly man who drives me crazy.