Ready, Set, Here Comes Holiday Spending

Holiday Shopping Already??

From the months of October to December, it seems our spending gets a little cray. We always budget out our spending for Christmas gifts, but there’s a lot more to holiday spending than just the gifts. There’s the decorations, the food, the parties, hosting family, traveling, sending out cards, and so on. In the end, it really adds up. Just thinking about it, makes me feel kind of stressed (but also so very excited!!).

As cliche as it sounds, giving gifts really is the fun part (especially when they’re from the dollar store). Since we’ve gotten out of debt, we’re more generous now with our budgeting this time of year. But before the mad rush of holiday shopping begins, here are a few tips Johnny and I plan to follow the next three months to keep from overspending.

Set Out an Itemized Budget for Everything

Yup. Everything, not just the gifts. At the beginning of the year, we solidified our Christmas budget for each other and Sally, so now we just need to make sure we stick to our guns. And our itemized budgeting list will probably look a bit like this:

  • Johnny
  • Joanna
  • Sally
  • Johnny’s Parents
  • Joanna’s Parents
  • Johnny’s Secret Santas
  • Joanna’s Secret Santas
  • Christmas cards
  • Food budget for December (since we’ll probably plan on spending more that month… because baking)
  • Decorations (Johnny will resist this category, but I need a wreath for the door, and Sally doesn’t have a stocking!)
  • Gifts for friends

If we were traveling, we’d probably add travel costs to that list. But we’re planning to travel for Thanksgiving (using airline points) and be home for Christmas this year.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Homemade

Some of my favorite gifts are those that have been handmade just for me. I like to crochet, so if I have the time, I would like to make a homemade crocheted item for my Mom and mother-in-law, and possibly even my Dad and father-in-law — although, men are trickier to crochet something *manly,* like this. I also plan on giving yummy treats to friends and neighbors instead of store-bought gifts. There’s not a gift I enjoy more than a baked treat, and I already have a couple of different options in mind.

Start Shopping Early

Most years, I start my Christmas shopping in October. The same cannot be said for Johnny. Somehow he still manages to find deals because he’s a lucky son of a gun. When I feel rushed, I’m more likely to overspend, and by giving myself the time I need, I feel more in control of my spending. On top of that, by December, it’s sometimes hard to find deals, and items begin to be sold out or picked over. I remember wanting to get Johnny the new GoPro last Christmas (which I ended up changing my mind about), and it was sold out everywhere I looked!

Remember, Your Kids Don’t Need Much

Adults don’t either, really. But kids… seriously. We could give Sally a pack of plastic straws for Christmas, and she would be in heaven. We’re planning on getting her a bunch of smaller things this year (more paper to rip open!) and a few necessities (such as snow pants… hi, Utah!). I know this can be harder with older kids because they start handwriting their lists to Santa and really wanting a certain thing. But for younger children, you really don’t need to break the bank. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that the amount of money I spend on Sal doesn’t translate to how much we love her.

By remembering all of this now, hopefully Johnny and I can keep our holiday spending under wraps! Oh, puns. And even though I recommend starting Christmas shopping early, I don’t feel the same about Christmas music. Nosiree.

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  • Reply Brandy @ Busted Budget October 3, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I’m jealous that you know how to crochet. My great grandmother was an expert at crochet, but she passed in late August. I think I’ll always regret not learning from her. I think that crocheted items make great gifts, as well. But, I agree that men are definitely more difficult 🙂

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

      You can totally learn! I’m a lefty, and no one else in my family is left-handed, so I couldn’t rely on family to teach me. I didn’t learn until college! There are some awesome tutorials online that can teach you in a snap. Just start off with the chain stitch, and once you’re comfortable with that, move on to single crochet. We need more crocheters in our world! 🙂

  • Reply Halsy October 3, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I started my Christmas shopping in July this year!

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

      Ha! That’s awesome. You go, girl!

  • Reply Gretchen October 3, 2014 at 10:20 am

    We have been toying with a radical idea – having Christmas AFTER Christmas. The best deals are found after Christmas, and most kids have off school until January 1st or second. by doing that, we could focus solely on family the day of Christmas, and then open presents later, when they’re cheaper. We haven’t totally made up our minds yet – but we have at least a year because our daughter is only a year old 🙂

    • Reply Tarynkay October 3, 2014 at 11:27 am


      This exists! It is called Ephiphany or Three Kings Day and in many cultures, Christmas is about church and family and gifts don’t happen till the 12th day after Christmas. The idea is that this is when the Magi brought gifts to baby Jesus. My dad really wanted to do this in our family, but once we started school, it was a much harder sell for us kids.

      • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:52 am

        Who knew! Super interesting!

    • Reply Katie B. October 3, 2014 at 11:30 am

      We totally do that!!! Well, for my husband and I, at least! One year he got me this really cute necklace from Target. It was like $30 – not terribly expensive. When we went shopping with our gift cards after Christmas, we saw the necklace on sale for $15!!! The same thing happened with a sweater he bought me the year before – it was marked 50% off within 2-3 weeks of Christmas. So, this year, we agreed to buy each other a few things and then take advantage of sales after Christmas. Last year we had a little “date” to go spend our gift cards and leftover Christmas money (what little their was!). It’s way more fun that way.

      • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:53 am

        Very cool! What a fun, unique tradition for the two of you!

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:52 am

      Very interesting! I’d never heard of this before. I’d love to hear if you end up doing it!

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget October 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    last year, i saved $50 every paycheck specifically for a Xmas fund to cover all the extra expenses, such as gifts, tree, decor, dinners out, hostess gifts, etc. It really came in handy having that extra $1k lying around! We did it again this year, and for this reason, we aren’t as stressed when the holidays come around as to how we’re going to pay for everything.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:55 am

      Very smart! Johnny and I may have to give that a try next year!

  • Reply Rob October 3, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    My wife and I keep our gift giving policy pretty standard from year to year. She and I equally share in the cost of the gifts that we buy for our two kids (and their spouses). These we may buy throughout the year when we see some good sales. As for our grand kids, I contribute cash gifts towards each of their college education funds (Canadian RESP plans) and my wife matches my contributions in buying each of the little ones gifts that we know that they will like. As far as the rest of the holiday season expenses, we cover that out of our ongoing entertainment budget that we maintain for festive occasions such as this.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:55 am

      What a great gift for your grandkids. Seriously, some day they’ll realize that was the very best gift of all.

  • Reply Michelle October 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    The most popular toy for children all over the world is a cardboard box. I’m not making this up! Give a kid a nicely sized cardboard box and they are happy for hours.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:56 am

      I believe it. We give Sally a cardboard box and a crayon, and she’s good for an hour!

  • Reply Mrs. Frugalwoods October 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    SO smart to start planning and saving ahead of time! We’re pretty careful in our gift purchasing for family and we usually don’t get gifts for each other to cut down on costs. But we love to decorate the house and bake! I’m so excited that Christmas is right around the corner 🙂

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:56 am

      Agreed in decorating the house. I get so excited about that. And baking! It’s the only time of year that i truly love baking!

  • Reply Kara October 17, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I always go so overboard for the holidays! Last year I spent a ridiculous amount of money buying vintage German ornaments from Etsy (like my grandparents have) and having food sent from Georgia to Vermont for my perfect Yankee Swap gift.

    This year I’m determined to do better. My first line of defense is a special savings account that I have that automatically transfers a dollar into it from my checking account every time I use my debit card. It helps me save money without even knowing it all year, so I’m hoping that can offset some of the costs.

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