How We’re Spending Christmas


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This time last year, Johnny and I were gearing up to add a baby to our brood. We weren’t sure how much it was going to cost us to bring her into this world. And we’d just spent close to $1000 buying all of our baby gear and necessities. So when it came time to create our Christmas budget, we decided on $150 each. It was enough to get us a few nice things, without going overboard on our spending.

And now, here we are with Christmas just around the corner yet again. I’m kind of dumbfounded as to how it’s already here! But a couple of weeks ago, Johnny and I sat down and deliberated on how much to spend on Christmas this year. While we were talking, we realized how much has changed since last Christmas:

Despite those events, we’ve had some good things happen as well:

  • Met our savings goals for the year
  • Each had a modest increase in salary
  • Christmas gift card from my employer
  • Spent very little on vacation (this is only good for our budget, not our sanity)

And so this year, after crunching the numbers, Johnny and I have increased our Christmas budget for each other from $150 each to $250 each. And here are the deets for our planned Christmas spending:

  • Johnny: $250
  • Joanna: $250
  • Baby Girl: $125*
  • Our cat Persie: $10

Total: $635

*That’s a lot of money for a baby, right? We’d originally planned on about $30, but she’s in much need of some new clothes, which have been hand-me-downs from Johnny’s sister up until this point. Baby Girl has actually caught up to her cousin in clothing size (we’ve got a big girl on our hands), so now we’re scrambling to keep her clothed :). We also decided to invest in a few quality toys for her and future children since she’s just been playing with measuring cups and hand-me-down toys up until this point!

Whew! That’s a lot of money when I write it all down. And there’s even more when you bring in our expenses for family, friends, Christmas cards, and a few donated gifts. We might also go over our typical food budget this month since we are hosting Christmas Eve dinner at our house, but I’m trying to get creative with our meals the next two weeks so we don’t have to. Luckily, we’re staying put this year, so we don’t have any travel expenses to account for. And Johnny and I haven’t spent much on ourselves this year. We never did get around to taking a vacation sans baby. And you don’t even want to know the last time I got my hair did. But we are each taking the week of Christmas off from work, which I’m *thrilled* about!

And since it’s Christmastime, however cliche I may sound, I just have to say that I’m putting our Christmas budget out there in the spirit of full disclosure. But it’s the spirit of Christmas that really matters, of course.

And speaking of spending Christmas, Johnny and I have also come up with how we’d like to spend our time (and not our money) in the days leading up to the big day. Otherwise, it’s going to get away from us! How is it already the 13th?! Here are a few activities we have in mind:

  • Take Baby Girl to see (and sit — okay, cry with) Santa
  • Attend Johnny’s work party
  • Go see the lights at Temple Square (best Christmas lights in our area)
  • Go see Catching Fire sans baby (hopefully a matinee)
  • Buy weird gifts for Johnny’s family (per tradition!)
  • Host Christmas Eve at our place

It’s our first Christmas with family in three years — and our first with Johnny’s family in five years! It’s also our first year playing Santa. So it’s gonna be a good one!

How about you? What are your Christmas plans this year (spending aside)?

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24 Comments

  • Reply Brian December 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

    We already did Christmas with my in-laws since they moved to Vegas and we were out there for Thanksgiving. We will simply go to my parents house Christmas morning and do our thing there.

    My old lady and I are limiting ourselves to under $30. Mostly because there really isn’t anything I want/need other than new socks… I have an unhealthy love of new socks.

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Socks was at the top of my list this year, too. Casual socks, dress socks, there better be lots of socks under that tree come Christmas morning.

  • Reply Insourcelife December 13, 2013 at 9:16 am

    High rollers over here :) We used to get each other big presents but had a talk a couple of years ago and decided that there is really no reason to continue. We really do have everything at this point so now our gifts are usually under $50. I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting a pair of NB sneakers bought online for under $30 – can’t wait 😉 We’ll be having a talk with my wife’s side of the family to switch over to Secret Santa for next Christmas as it’s getting out of control with everyone stressing over gifts – so stupid!

    • Reply Johnny December 19, 2013 at 3:02 am

      Honestly, I’d rather use the gift money toward an experience or a trip, but we’ve scrimped on clothing and a few other “wantneeds” (not quite needs, but not totally wants), so we’re splurging a bit and using Christmas as our motivator to get those things. Santa is a bad, bad man. :)

  • Reply Tarynkay December 13, 2013 at 10:02 am

    @Brian- my sister is just like you. She told me that if she ever won the lottery, she would buy a new pair of socks for every day of the year.

    We always stay home for Christmas, though my family is coming up afterwards this year. We are just doing stockings for each other. We just get our 2 year old a new book and small things for his stocking every year for now. He has a lot of very enthusiastic grandparents and aunts and uncles who load him up with gifts and the whole unwrapping thing gets really overwhelming for him. We will buy him bigger presents as he gets older.

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 3:08 am

      Sounds like you’ve got a fun Christmas to look forward to — the perfect mix of low-key and family. And how great that your family spoils your little one at Christmastime! He is a very loved little boy!

  • Reply Rob December 13, 2013 at 10:54 am

    “This time last year, Johnny and I were gearing up to add a baby to our brood.”

    Wot, Joanna! You’re not doing a repeat this year and keeping up with family brood tradition?
    Slackers! (j/k) :-)

    Looks like a great Christmas ahead for you folks. Year-end fun with family and friends are great, eh? Just the thing to break up the cold long winter season.

    As usual, this early Christmas eve we’re heading over to our daughter’s house, where she and her family will host a scrumptious evening meal for us as well as for our son and his family. And, per tradition, our SIL will sneak out mid-afternoon and shortly return dressed as Santa to hand out a few little presents to our 5 little wide-eyed grand children (as well as to our daughter’s little dog, who I think is the only one of them not fooled a bit! lol). Later we’ll exchange presents before heading home. A fun time indeed.

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 3:04 am

      Ha! Sorry to disappoint, Rob :). It sounds like you’ve got a perfect Christmas Eve in the works!

  • Reply Jennifer @ Budgeting in Baby December 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Christmas is always a very busy time for us. Christmas celebrations start tomorrow with my family. We are having a giant get together of my grandparents and my grandpa’s sisters (and offspring). Then the 21st we have Christmas with my mother. Christmas Eve is going to spent with my step mom’s family. Then the Sunday after Christmas is going to be spend celebrating with my dad. Whew, I feel exhausted just thinking about all of those celebrations.
    Hopefully Emmett will be able to meet any members of the family he hasn’t yet met.

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

      What an eventful Christmas! It will be so fun to get together with all of that family! And I have a feeling that introducing your little guy to all of them will be one of the best parts!

  • Reply Halsy December 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    We are fortunate that our families only live about 30 minutes from each other and about 2 hours from us. We are even more fortunate that my family has a celebration Christmas Eve and my husbands family celebrates Chrismas Day so we don’t have the stress of choosing which family to go to. As for your baby budget I don’t think $125 is crazy for an almost 1 year. We did a little over $100 this year to get our 18 month old a Melissa and Doug Play Kitchen then we each pick her something under $20. I got a great deal on a Melissa and Doug number/alphabet chalk board dry erase board combo and a puzzle for my under $20. Can you tell we really favor Melissa and Doug toys in this house :) we don’t normally buy her much toys etc. throughout the year so I have fun picking her a few toys/books/puzzles at Christmas and her birthday!

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:52 am

      That’s great you’re able to see both families at Christmastime! You and I are on the same page with toys, Halsy! We got Melissa and Doug toys for our girl, too! We love ’em.

  • Reply Meghan December 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Okay, that does seem like a lot, but I guess if you have it budgeted and agree, then go for it!

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:40 am

      It’s our most spent to date, for sure. But we’ve saved a lot and not spent much this year, so we’re excited to live a little this Christmas.

  • Reply Linda December 13, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Hey Joanna, if you have a decent second hand clothing shop nearby, you might be able to get very good quality, 2nd hand baby clothes. We have one close to us, and I wouldn’t think twice about buying from there, especially if we had a little one growing fast!

    Obviously your shops may differ, but the one by us, the baby clothes look almost brand new.

    Thrifting – not just for the adults! 😉

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:36 am

      That’s a great idea, Linda. I’ll have to look into it. I know I’d go hog wild :). Our girl is at such a fun age to dress right now that I’d love to have a cheaper option for her clothes!

  • Reply Kasey @ Debt Perception December 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    My husband and I don’t really celebrate Christmas. This is the first year we have a tree, thanks to my mom, who sent us a plastic 4 footer and some lights and ornaments. We might actually do something for Christmas this year. Maybe.

    Otherwise, I’m doing Christmas with my family back in WI at the end of January. It’s too expensive to fly around the holidays.

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:35 am

      I’m glad you have a tree! Our four-footer served us well for several years. And you’re smart to visit family at a less-expensive time. January is usually such a blah month usually, but you’ll have something fun to keep you excited!

  • Reply Michelle December 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I’m keeping it SUPER low-key this year. I already took my mom to NYC for Labor Day weekend. That was her Christmas gift and it was NOT cheap! It was priceless. I’m picking up some little gifts for friends but they got stuff through out the year. Boom-done for Christmas.

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:29 am

      What a great Christmas gift! She will treasure those memories you guys made forever. Priceless gifts are the best gifts!

  • Reply Cait December 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

    This year, I’m spending most of December in a new city, so am making sure I see any/all of the friends I have here. This week, I went to the Vancouver Christmas Market w/ a friend visiting from Toronto. Today, I’m spending the day baking cookies/watching Christmas movies w/ another personal finance blogger who lives close by. And next weekend, I’m having a friend and her two girls (4 and 5) over for a sleepover!

    Next weekend, I’ll also be heading home for a quiet Christmas w/ my family and friends there. Nothing major. Just lots of coffee dates, drives to see Christmas lights, etc.

    Enjoy your time off!

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:19 am

      Oh, I love Christmas markets! It sounds like you’re having a very festive Christmas season, Cait! We need to take a page out of your book.

      I think quiet Christmas’s are the best. There’s nothing better than getting away from it all for a few days. Have a great one!

  • Reply Laura December 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    We usually spend about $150-200 on each other, but since we bought a house this year, we decided to forgo the big gifts and just get each other a few smaller gifts, totaling no more than $100 each. It’s kind of nice that we don’t have to stress as much about gifts for each other! Now our families on the other hand are a different story… I have 4 siblings so we all draw names so we can get one person a nice gift ($30ish). Still, gift giving always seems to be a big mountain to cross! I look forward to the day that I am done and can just focus on the fun of Christmas season.

    P.S. Wouldn’t your total be only $635?? Or were you adding in family members as well?

    • Reply Joanna December 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

      Yes, Laura! Thanks! My math skills have always been questionable.

      Congrats on buying a home this year! That’s a pretty awesome gift in and of itself!

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