We still can’t believe that December just started! Can you? So with the start of the last month of the year and the Christmas holiday quickly approaching, we thought it was time we share our personal Christmas budget and plan for the season!
If you remember, we shared with you how we have been trying to become minimalists even starting with our approach to the piles of socks in our home. We are really trying to learn contentment without stuff, finding it easier to clean and organize with less stuff, and trying to teach our children they don’t need stuff to find happiness! This year we have decided to try to apply it to Christmas as well (we started last year but are really hoping to be even more consistent this year) and try to remember the reason for the season and making memories instead with our loved ones.
In the past we have strived to just save money on stuff. This year we are really trying to not only find those amazing deals but also be careful to purchase items that the recipient will hopefully love – without buying so much that they will lose track of their gifts! We have even got the grandparents on board this year by asking them to give one toy and possibly a family membership to a zoo or museum.
So with that all said we wanted to share our holiday budget with you. Its really simple and easy to break down:
Our total Christmas budget is – $565.00 (counting gifts, giving, and festivities)
- Our immediate family of 6 – $50 each person = $300
- Our grandparents 5 at $15 each = $75 (This usually means 1-2 gifts each and then a handful of homemade and photo gifts)
- Our extended family (siblings and their families) $15 for the whole family (usually means gifts/toys for the kids and then a family/couple gift like foodie stuff, games, or movies) = $60
- Our friends and neighbors total budget of $30 (varied level of gifts from homemade, foodie type, games, etc.) = $30
- Miscellaneous Christmas expenses (extra family dinners out, holiday festivities/events, party/gathering expenses, etc.) = $50
- Angel Tree for 2010 $25 each (we usually do one, but this year we picked two so a doubled budget) = $50 (this is the one budget item on our list that we have the least control over, we will be sharing more about this later!)
The above is our budget that we set at the beginning of the year and have been setting money aside every paycheck this year to be ready. However, taking into account what we mentioned with trying to cut back more this year, we are actually coming in under budget for our immediately family by almost half (we are giving each child 1 toy and then books, clothing and practical items). So something new we added this year was our Giving Challenge which allotted $20 per week for six total weeks in purchasing food for our local food bank.
End result: $565 – $150 (money saved by cutting back) + $120 (Giving Challenge) = $535 ($30 under budget!)
Here’s some ways that we have made this budget work throughout the years:
This means we start shopping immediately after Christmas! This works so beautifully and has for years! As just a few examples, we have picked up:
- $30 winter accessory sets for grandmothers and sisters for $1.97 each
- A sewing machine that our girls wanted for clearance of $5 at Walmart after Christmas
- The toy deals that pop up all year, especially adding the coupons. Hitting the Toys R Us clearance sale that hits around August and September of each year as they prepare for the new Christmas toys.
- The list goes on, and on!
We have found that starting early is crucial to having and maintaining a budget like this! And believe it or not, we have found some “new” treasures at garage sales too for pennies on the dollar:
- $3.00 Dooney and Bourke wristlet
- Sealed DVD’s for $2.00 (like Shrek, Princess Bride and others)
- These dolls for our girls for $2.00 sealed and perfectly new from the “When I Dream I Read series” – In fact, in writing this post, we are seriously reconsidering giving these dolls to them……. in an effort to link to a picture for you to see them, we discovered that they are collectors dolls and the Fern doll we have is selling for $80 and the Little Women doll we can’t even find it yet online…… so this might change to something different in an effort to make money on these dolls!! LOL – WOW, a bit of shock writing this post 😉
Photo FREEBIES and DEALS
Grandparents especially love the photo gifts and these photo FREEBIES and deals will pop up here and there all through out the year, so we are able to get some for all! Plus these are the most admired and cherished gifts of all! Through out the year (for many years) we have gotten photo and caricature t-shirts, hats, mugs, mouse pads, calendars, plates, ties, desk top calendars, photo posters, photo coasters…the list goes on!
Men’s clearance at Kohl’s and JCPenney
With the $10 off $10 coupons and online codes throughout the year – the men on our list love to get new ties, dress shirts, polo shirts etc. and we can often find them priced at under $15, which usually means $5 or less.
Using Group Buying sites
This has actually become a huge factor for our budget as you can get very nice high quality items at 50% off or more! These are great for gifts for the whole family especially. We have purchased $40 and $50 gift cards to online clothing, jewelry, toy stores and more for $15 – $20. We can then turn around the use the $40 – $50 value and maximize on the companies site with coupon codes (some will have exclusions to combing with coupon codes), sales, clearances, etc. and really end up with $60-$80 or more worth of gifts for only $15 – $20. We have listed many of the deals from these companies. We like many of the discounts that many of them have, but in terms of gift giving, these are the ones that are our favorites in order as it gives you more options for the purposes of gifts (the first two have been the favorites for buying the gift cards to buy gifts!) : Eversave, Mamapedia, Mobba, Modnique, LilLuxe, Rue La La, Groupon, etc. (we suggest clicking on each of those links to the companies and signing-up for their email notification so that you don’t miss some of these awesome deals that come around!)
Reaching into our gift bin at home
We use this trick whenever we need a gift (not just the holidays). When there is an amazing deal on something, we will pick up 1, 2 or more and keep it in the bin for “just in case.” We do mostly use this for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, etc. but have also used it for Christmas.
Making Homemade Gifts
Although there can still be some expense involved depending on what you are making, this really is a great way to go for gift giving. It is very memorable and special for both the giver and the receiver! There are soooo many homemade gift ideas out there from crafts, photo ideas, using your stockpile, using your samples that you request… the list goes on. We will be sharing some ideas, but only barely scratching the surface of things you could do and make.
Using your Stockpile
You might just be surprised to find out how many gifts you might have lurking on your storage shelves. For example, in the past we have “shopped in our thrifty store” and give those nice Gillette razors to brother and brother-in-laws. They normally run around $10-$12, but we would get them for FREE through out the year. Thrifty Al is thrifty in how he uses them and one razor lasts forever, so those extra ones are perfect! Also, the FREE lip glosses from Victoria’s Secret from throughout the year or other cosmetic companies the Bath and Body Works FREEBIES, high end hair care items and hair care and beauty sets that would just take me a century to get through myself all become perfect gifts! We briefly mentioned this in the homemade gifts category, but also putting together a family gift of foodie type stuff is a very nice gift as well!
If there is something that you or your family have received from someone in the past, but it is not “you,” then stick it in your gift bin and re-gift the items! It is still just as special from the giver as they helped your overall budget out even more!
Buying less is more
We buy less stuff, but make it higher quality and wait for those awesome rock bottom deals on those higher quality items.
How do you save for the holidays? What is your budget? Any and all ideas are appreciated by all!