If you don’t have a Christmas budget in place, make one now. This is the budget I’m using this year:
Save 15 dollars per month for 12 months.
12 x $15 = $180
I have $180 to spend for Christmas.:-) The average American consumer spent $796 in 2016 (https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-research-and-data/holiday-spending/holiday-headquarters). Yeah, my budget is way, way below average, but I also know there are a lot of people in this country who are living paycheck to paycheck and have no money to spend on Christmas, so I’m thankful for my $180 budget.
We have 12 full weeks and some odd days until Christmas. If I neglected to start saving back in January and only started saving now, I could hit that $180 mark but only if I saved $15 per week from now until December 25th. Ei-yi-yi. I don’t think anyone on a snug budget could do that, but how about $5 per week? After 12 weeks, that would add up to $60 dollars . . . not a huge amount of money to spend on gifts, but it would be $60 dollars of DEBT FREE spending!
I have 12 people I’m quite fond of on my list who will get hand crafted Christmas cards. I have 16 wonderful people for whom I’ll buy or make gifts. (These 16 will also get cards if I have leftovers.) Then there are wrapping supplies and a few extra dollars for surprises like a hostess gift I might need to take somewhere, or a let’s-pitch-in-gift for the boss. The $180 will divide up like:
12 cards, one dollar each: $12
16 gifts, 9 dollars each: $144
Wrapping supplies: $25
TOTAL: $191 Oops, I’m over budget.
I squished down the $9 dollars per gift to $8.30 per gift:
12 cards, one dollar each: $12
16 gifts, $8.30 each: $133
Wrapping supplies: $25
TOTAL: $180 That’s better!
Consider costs related to your own situation: Do you have a road trip to your brother’s house with gasoline expenses? (We’ll be staying put.) Will you be cooking a lavish Christmas dinner? (We’ll bake a simple lasagna.) Do you have to mail a lot of gifts? (If so, think small, lightweight, and non-breakable.) Do you want to buy a fresh tree this year? (We have a fake, but cute, tiny tree.)
Dear Husband and I each have a small, personal monthly budget to spend on things like haircuts or soldering wire (him) or a tube of paint (me). DH always uses his December personal budget to buy any gifts just from him (and not from us as a couple). I think I’m on his list.♥
DH and I both get cash back on our credit cards. We live pretty frugally throughout the year, so we have no problem wildly spending our cash back guilt free at Christmas time. It usually goes to things like a date night, a trip to the book store, and a charity donation. This year we’ll have about $150 cash back for our Christmas spending spree, woohoo!
Some Small-Budget Gift ideas:
What if I could only start saving now and wouldn’t have time to build up much of a budget? I’d have to cut back on gifts, but it’s okay. True friends would understand and not get their panties in a wad if I handed out ultra frugal gifts. Here are 10 ideas in case your Christmas budget is rather tight, and they’re all physically small gifts, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money on wrapping supplies.
1. Playing cards. A deck of jumbo-numbers playing cards would be suitable for a recipient with poor eyesight. Our Walmart has them currently priced $2.84 with free ship-to-store if not in stock. Walmart’s beautiful “Autumn Copper” cards, with regular sized numbers, are priced the same. And the little travel sized cards are less than 2 dollars, perfect for kids’ smaller hands.
2. A bar of fancy, organic chocolate. Our own grocery store carries Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate at less than two dollars per good-sized bar. Yum, luxury for the palate!
3. Energy gels or chews for the endurance athlete. DH says the PowerBar Performance Energy Blasts in the strawberry-banana flavor are really effective and tasty in the middle of a long run. Our grocery store carries them at less than two dollars per pouch, and sometimes on sale at one dollar per pouch.
4. A Kindle book. I’m currently reading Town Father by Kevin Brennan. It was only $2.99. (Print out the Amazon voucher so you can tuck it in a box and wrap it.)
5. Thrift store or yard sale toys. Okay, this one might be big, depending on what you find. One year we got our daughter a yard sale Sit ‘n Spin. We cleaned it up, wrapped it up, and it was a big hit. Except she wasn’t old enough to get the name right, so she called it a “Spit ‘n Sin.”:-)
6. Burts Bees flavored lip balm. Different flavors are priced differently, but Target has certain flavors, like wild coconut & pear (a unisex flavor, I’d say), currently listed at $2.97. Best lip balm ever!
7. Designer ballpoint pens. Our Staples has Cynthia Rowley ballpoint pens in gleaming gold, a three-pack for $3.99.
8. A children’s chapter book for elementary aged kids. There are so many of the Gooney Bird series books (1st-4th grades) and Stink series books (also 1st-4th grades) that you can’t help but find some on sale at your brick-n-mortar book store for less than 4 dollars.
9. Stationery. It’s pretty easy to find cheap-looking stationery at five-n-dime type stores, but today I ran across a package of 50 cards with envelopes in glorious patterns and colors for $9.99 at Michaels (even less expensive if I had one of their generous coupons). Fifty is a lot, and $9.99 ain’t cheap. But you can break up the set for three different recipients and give each person 15 cards with envelopes for $3.33 (plus the omnipresent sales tax, of course), and still have 5 leftover cards for your post-Xmas thank you notes or a stocking stuffer.
10. A 5 dollar donation in the recipient’s name. Make a donation toward ongoing hurricane or earthquake recovery or a charity the recipient particularly cares about. Print out the receipt or write a note explaining it so you have something to wrap. Do it last minute (because the charity will probably send your recipient a letter) and without giving away the recipient’s email address so the whole thing will remain a surprise.
Make this day even better. Consider:
- Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Marie, the Mexico City earthquake . . . we have so many people who need care and so many reasons to be thankful. Never stop praying for both.