I posted this last December, and apparently it struck a chord because I had quite a few responses to it! I thought I’d re-share it this year, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially as I think it helps other penny pinchers learn how Christmas looks in other families. (I think we’re at the same place we were last year for gift giving. . . some days it’s hard to remain frugal as my children are getting older and are aware of “bigger” stuff, but so far they seem to be okay with it!)
Repost from December 2010
As I’m about to post this I’m struggling with whether or not it’s proper etiquette (for a Southern girl. . .) to talk real money. (I know, it’s probably not!) But I think this is an interesting question and one that’s worth considering, so here goes!
A good friend of mine asked a great question about how much money real families budget on Christmas gifts. And because I’m betting she’s not the only one who’s curious, I figured I’d address it, but I really don’t want to! I’m hesitant to answer because it’s a little too real; however I also wonder what real families spend, and how much Christmas impacts our family budget. I do feel like we’re all at different places financially and by no means will we all spend the same amount of money on our children, but this is how Christmas looks in our home.
We are incredibly fortunate and have several family members who are very generous with our children at Christmas, so we’ve never felt the need to spend tons ourselves . . . we know they simply get too much! We are also blessed as our children haven’t really gotten into electronics yet – they did get a Wii last Christmas but have yet to ask for any other video games, handheld or otherwise (which is a HUGE expense!)
Our budget in previous years has been around $75-$100 per child (for the older two), and way less for our youngest – maybe $40-$50. This year my ten year old received significantly more (we spent about $150 on his gifts, and he’s also getting an MP3 Player from Amazon that was free with Swagbucks.) I’m struggling with this one as I feel like we’ve spent so much more than usual on him, and yet there’s very little to show for it. Meanwhile, his baby sister is getting about $45 worth of gifts and it’ll look like Santa came just to visit her Christmas morning! For now though, this is what’s worked in our home, and we’ll re-think it all as we plan next year’s Christmas budget. One thing that we’ll definitely add to the budget next year is money for Christmas giving . . . we’ve always given to worthy causes over the Christmas season but never with a plan, so I’m hoping that will help make me a more cheerful giver.
As Lana mentioned, our church has been involved in the Advent Conspiracy, which has helped keep our minds focused as parents on what’s important during Christmas, which isn’t the number of gifts under the tree. This one is tough at times for us, and my children do notice that other kids receive more each Christmas than they do. I think they recognize that we could probably do more, however in our home we’ve simply chosen not to. So far we’ve been able to explain that all families do things differently for Christmas, and they seem satisfied with that. Let’s hope that continues!
Okay, so if you’re up for it, what do you budget for your children for Christmas? (You can leave the comment anonymously if you’d like . . . I know I would have liked to!) And, do you budget at all, or just purchase as you go and pray the bills won’t be overwhelming in January? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one, so please leave a comment & share!
Photo courtesy of carstenfonsdal on flickr.
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