I have a secret to share with you.
I went into this holiday season without a set budget for Christmas gifts.
So now that the big secret is out, let me explain.
I’m not proud of this tidbit. Initially, I had a budget lined up (if little else), but that was before the recipient list widened considerably.
Due to many factors, there wound up being seventeen people on our Christmas list this year, and three December birthdays to plan for. That is a whole lot of dough to spend, particularly if one is an “average” American. Let’s just say we didn’t have several hundred dollars at our disposal. (In that respect, I suppose our budget was, “As cheap as possible.”)
I briefly considered going the craft/homemade gift route, but realized I did not have the time necessary to create a thoughtful and creative gift. Instead I opted to do one of four things for each recipient on our list.
We had family pictures taken and ordered prints. With a coupon coupled with an amazing online sale, this turned out to be a really great idea. The recipients of this gift (grandparents, etc.) are always appreciative of a personal gift…especially where our kiddos are involved. Bonus: we got family pictures for ourselves as well, which were long overdue.
We gave a donation. Using points sites, we were able to give charitable donations in the gift recipient’s honor. Bonus: it made us feel like we were contributing to something greater than ourselves.
We gave an experience. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like taking someone out to eat at a favorite restaurant. Bonus: the restaurant is a favorite of all in attendance!
We gave gift cards and cookies, or traditional gifts. Although these were among the more expensive gifts on our list, for these recipients, gift cards were preferred gifts, and the cookies added a personal touch, as well as something to “unwrap.” We were able to choose our denomination for the gift cards, which helped keep costs down.
Our kids (and Riley) are the primary recipients of the traditional gifts. To keep things simple, I adhered to the, “Something you want, something to read, something to wear, and something you need” gift-giving philosophy, so each kiddo is getting just four small gifts from us. Bonus: We get to see their little faces light up when they see their gifts. (Although they are very easy to please. Peanut, for example, would be thrilled with just the wrapping paper.)
Each recipient has either already received their gift, or knows of it, or (as in the case of our kids) can’t read yet, so this post should not spoil anyone’s surprises. But I do want to share one more thing.
We spent around $250 total.
While certainly far below the national average, that is still a lot of money to spend in the span of just a few weeks, and I blame going into it without a Christmas budget. Note: there are a couple of gifts under the tree for me from Riley and the kids, and those are not factored into the total…because I have no idea what was spent (though Riley and I are on the same page as far as family finances are concerned, so I doubt it is a huge sum!).
Bonus: now we know just how important budgeting is. And this has also served as a great reminder of the true meaning of the season…and reminded me how important simplifying the holidays is.