How much do you spend on Christmas?

ghaynesghaynes Posts: 72Member
edited August 2012 in Desktop
I'm curious to see how much others are spending on Christmas. I just started using YNAB this year and I'm building up my Christmas fund. I wasn't sure on how much I should put in each month so I went back and tracked down all my transactions from last Christmas and I spent a hefty $2200. Now I have a large family and we all like to give big presents but spending that much seems excessive and I want to cut back this year.

I'm going to check with some family members and see about not exchanging. Hopefully that will let me reduce spending. I'm going to see if I can make do with spending $1200.

What ways have others done with reduce spending? How much do you generally spend?
Post edited by Unknown User on


  • MRKlinkMRKlink Posts: 799Member, Beta Tester
    We typically try to spend $40-50 per adult in our family, and then $20 per kid. We don't have our own kids yet, so this is family from our parents down. We spend a little more on each other - maybe $75?
    DH has a small family, and we see them all for Christmas (his parents, one sister, her husband, and 2 kids). We buy them all gifts.
    I have a large family (6 siblings, 5 of them married, 20+ nieces & nephews, a couple great nieces & nephews now too). This would be IMPOSSIBLE for us all to keep up with, so we all do a group gift for Mom & Dad (where everyone contributes what they can afford), and then we buy for whomever we are closest to. So DH & I end up contributing towards the group gift, and we purchase gifts for my sister, her husband & 3 kids that live in our area.

    In the past, when we lived closer to each other, we did the "draw a name from a hat" thing. And we had a cap on the spending amount.

    DH's extended family - aunts, uncles, etc. Does a generic gift exchange game that typically has a $25 cap per participating individual. Depending on who is organizing it will depend on the game rules. Last year, we had to bring our receipts and try to get as close as we could to a random exact amount spent, including tax. One year, to "steal" someone else's gift instead of drawing from the unopened pile, you had to beat them at Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots. (Now THAT was fun). Each year rotates who is in charge of the game & the rules, so it can definitely vary. DH is in charge this year, and he has been saddened at the greediness of some of the younger cousins, so his current idea is that we will all be bringing half cash, half gift (so we can still do a fun game!), and the cash part will go to a charity.
  • smallLifesmallLife Posts: 325Member
    As little as possible. My food and drink spending will increase as I hang out with friends and family more often than I normally would, but I avoid buying gifts. I'll probably spend $100 on immediate family - clothing items they could use, practical gifts, etc. I'm probably in the minority here but I think Christmas is an overblown commercial holiday.
  • PatzerPatzer Posts: 3,795Member, Beta Tester
    smallLife wrote:
    As little as possible. My food and drink spending will increase as I hang out with friends and family more often than I normally would, but I avoid buying gifts. I'll probably spend $100 on immediate family - clothing items they could use, practical gifts, etc. I'm probably in the minority here but I think Christmas is an overblown commercial holiday.

    Christmas is an overblown commercial holiday.

    I'll spend $80-$100 on contributions to socially mandatory gift collections. I'll likely drop some money in Salvation Army kettles, but that's Other Charity in my budget. I'll probably get something for my daughter, which could range from nominal cost to $300 or so, depending on what I see that looks like it would be a good fit for her.

    I eliminated "Christmas" as a category from my budget last year, combining it with "Gifts" to become "Gifts and Holidays." I budget $40 per month, with a cap of $600. It's enough for my lifestyle.

  • ajfriesajfries Posts: 58Member
    We don't celebrate Christmas, so $0. But we do spend some money on gifts throughout the year. They usually come out of "household misc." I'd guess we spend less than $200 a year on gifts.
  • YYC27YYC27 Posts: 1,970Member, Beta Tester
    I budget $500/year towards "Gifts" (which covers Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day, etc.), which tends to be more than I need. I usually only get gifts for a few people. I usually aim for $50-$100 for boyfriend/parents, and $10-$20 for people I'm only buying a gift for because it would be rude not to.

    I honestly think the whole gift-giving season is a bit silly. I don't care about receiving gifts, especially if I have to tell the person what to buy for me. I'm an adult, and if I want something I buy it.
  • karenj2karenj2 Posts: 209Member
    Wow - I'm like you, I think last Christmas I spent about $2500 on Christmas. Now, that included the tree, any new decorations, gifts (for us, for our daughter, our neices & nephews, two adults within our immediate family, and a few small gifts for our daycare provider, my boss & coworkers, etc.), my hubby's birthday gift (which is the first week in January), giving extra to charity (Giving Tree, etc.) or tipping folks more, and last year it also included Christmas dinner (including a free-range turkey) for 18 people.

    I'm trying to save up that much again, although I only JUST started this year, so I'm very much behind. (And I now have a separate category for just regular birthdays/anniversarys/"special days")
  • INAB26INAB26 Posts: 1,722Member, Beta Tester
    I just happened to look that up myself recently. We were also in the $2K neighborhood. We have 4 kids, do an exchange with a couple of different families, buy for our parents and brothers and a few other close kids, and it just adds up quickly. That also included some special holiday outings that we considered family gifts. We make a big deal about how spending time and doing fun things together is even better than the stuff.

    I get a little better every year at getting that money set aside ahead of time, but it is a challenge. Part of me also thinks we should be able to cut back, but I also know that we buy very little gift-wise through the rest of the year. Our kids don't get huge birthday parties and b-day gifts tend to be small so Christmas is for the things they've really really been wanting. We even limit them each to 3 gifts from us plus a few stocking stuffers so it's not like we load them up with a bunch of junk or anything.

    So no tips on cutting back I'm afraid, but you're definitely not alone!
  • Budget_NinjaBudget_Ninja Posts: 5,269Member, Beta Tester
    Last year YNAB says I spent $785.08.

    There is just the two of us and we live far away from family so our xmas is usually pretty small. Nice Breakfast and Dinner with gifts and stockings, bottle of wine and some treats. It's low key, our gifts generally include either shipping or postage costs.
  • jessiebirdjessiebird Posts: 4,910Member, Beta Tester
    Christmas is a killer at our house. My husband is a super, over-the-top gift-giver. Even when we've set a budget, he sometimes will go out Christmas Eve day and buy more. Too much is never enough for him. We buy for three kids (two are adults), one daughter-in-law and one almost-daughter-in-law, who often spends Christmas morning with us.

    I know we spent well over $2,000 last year. All of it was paid for in cash (my husband worked a LOT during November and December to pay for it all). I tend to like to make gifts for people and I hate spending lots of money on things that (a) the kids don't need, don't want, or won't use and (b) we have no place to store. With the kids mostly grown, we do a lot of gift cards now. But $$$$$.

    One year, the year we owned TWO houses and were practically going under, my husband bought me a $600 necklace the day before Christmas, just because he loves me and thought it would look pretty on me. Another year, he cooked up a huge elaborate scheme that involved borrowing a van and making excuses for a couple of long trips across the lake to New York state; I woke up Christmas morning and found a beautiful, working, antique "walking wheel" (the giant spinning wheels you see at reenactments). I know that was at least $800. It was a great Christmas morning!

    Last year, I made him promise to go easy on my gifts, and he did better. I got a $79 Kindle and some jewelry. It's still more than I need.

    I love that I am married to someone who gets great joy from giving thoughtful gifts but he also can take it too far. It's something I'm hoping we can scale back in the future. (For reference, we don't exchange gifts with anyone outside the immediately family; but also, we don't have anyone else, like grandparents or aunts and uncles, buying for the kids. The older two do have their mother, however, and she spends way more on them than we do!)
  • bradbrad Posts: 4,786Member
    My three siblings and I agreed a few years ago to stop giving gifts to each other at Christmas (we're all in our 50s and 60s, and we're at the point where we want to reduce the flow of stuff into our lives), so that cut down costs a lot. I still give gifts to my girlfriend and my nieces, but altogether that amounts to maybe $250 each Christmas. I spent much more in the past.

    One year we tried giving experiences instead of possessions, which worked out really well. Possessions come and go, but experiences stay with you for your lifetime. A great home-cooked supper, a night at the opera, that kind of thing. I'd like to do more of that.
  • AnnaeMAnnaeM Posts: 91Member
    I tend to end up spending around $2000 for Christmas as well. That does include food (good cuts of meat, more large meals to cater etc.) and a gift for the house (something we can do together, perhaps some time away), but it’s mostly on the kids. I did intend to spend less last year, and thought I had, but when I added it all up, it still worked out at around the same amount. So this year I’m putting that much aside and hoping I spend less. I don’t have any big plans gift wise, but it is one area where I’m not too uptight about spending. We’re not particularly gift focused as adults. We've often done a draw among the adult family and just buy for one person each with a set limit usually $30-50. Last year we did this complicated (but fun) kris kringle draw. Each person spent up to a max. of $10 on one gift and they all went into a pool with gift swapping (ie. you could take someone else's gift if you liked it better than yours.) Agh! Too complicated to explain briefly but it was a lot of fun and I ended up with a fabulous oven mitt, complete with bling. My DC are not indulged during the year, so I'm pretty cool with how we do Christmas. I did just spend $120 on Father’s Day gifts for my ex-DH... Hmm...
  • DeguelloTexDeguelloTex Posts: 6,446Member, Beta Tester
    About $2400, all in. This includes the tree, food, and TSO tickets. A little more if it's time to upgrade laptops.
  • ghaynesghaynes Posts: 72Member
    Wow its seems like alot of people do some spending during the holiday. I was thinking I might be out of the norm. I'm still going to try and cut back.
  • MomOnTheRockMomOnTheRock Posts: 73Member
    I spent around $1200 last year which I seriously want to cut back on this year. I have a bunch of cousins who I only see around the holidays who I have always bought gifts for but am hoping to cut out. It seems like a waste of money to give presents to people I never see or barely talk to for 364 days of the year. Despite my best intentions, I do tend to go overboard on my 2 kids though. Last year I think I spent nearly $200 each on them.
  • LindseyinWaLindseyinWa Posts: 60Member
    We will probably have to spend less than $300 this year - it's normally around $500. But that's with 5 adult presents, 6 kid presents, and 9 cousin presents, and also extra food and parties.

    It's tight.
  • moneyisfreedommoneyisfreedom Posts: 6Member

    I spent roughly $800 last Christmas, not including entertaining my boyfriend's family, which I forgot to tag. Mint says I spent $692 in total, and I'm guessing there is maybe $100 in other expenses that I wasn't able to tack on there (decor from Walmart or groceries). This was:

    • $150 for my 3 immediate family members
    • $125 for my extended family (4 people plus a gift card exchange)
    • $100 for boyfriend's family (3 people)
    • $20 on the office Secret Santa
    • $25 on friends
    • $200 on boyfriend (I originally spent less, then got carried away with stockings and last-minute buys!), and 
    • the rest on miscellaneous things like decorations and the tree.

    Next year I'd like to spend closer to $300-500. 

    I realized that in most cases my friends/family don't care if it's a $30 gift or a $60 gift, and yet it makes a big difference in the end. Unfortunately, since I'm buying maybe...10 gifts, even a $30 gift is significant! I am lucky to be able to spend some time with family members where eating and drinking is a big part of our celebration. Also, I saved most of my decorations (sans tree) and they will be just as good next year as this. Finally, my boyfriend and I have some financial goals we've now realize exist thanks to YNAB and will strike a $100 cap. Maybe we'll skip stockings. If we find the perfect gift then maybe we just won't eat out at all that month, skimp on entertainment $, or otherwise to scrape up the extra cash.

    We did a gift card exchange last year with my extended family, value $25, and I was lucky enough to get Target. This meant I basically got my money back towards my other budgets since I just spent it as a normal grocery card. I would REALLY love to see us do a gift card exchange for the whole family and just focus on being together. Doing so would save everyone $100. Or heck, do a Secret Santa like someone suggested above and end up with one $50 gift for a person rather than a bunch of gifts.

    It's sad that I spent $800 and still felt like I had to cut corners.

  • ddregerddreger Posts: 2,005Member

    I'm guessing at least $1000. I've got 5 nieces/nephews to buy or make gifts for. I generally do something handmade or get them each a book. The adults (my siblings and parents) have started to pick names, which I like. And when it comes to my boyfriend, I like to get whatever pops into my head.

    But that's not where the overspending comes in. The impulse stuff is usually related to Christmas décor, which I have to admit, I loooove. It doesn't help that I have a few collections going too.

    This Christmas (2014) will be my first with YNAB. I have a category for saving for it, but it's not been added to yet b/c other things have taken precedence. So we'll see...

  • PoisonIvy250PoisonIvy250 Posts: 72Member
    I budget $1350 a year for Christmas (can't remember exactly how I came up with this figure), but this just includes gifts. This is my first year using YNAB, but I hope that I'll be able to deal with the increase in grocery spending for Thanksgiving and Christmas by being under budget the other months and letting that extra roll over.

  • mellocmelloc Posts: 30Member

    We've had a Christmas Club account for years,  saving $25 every 2 weeks (one of the only categories we ever thought to save in advance for!) and it usually nets us around $800-$850. That used to be plenty, back when the kids were little and so were their wish lists. But in the last 4-5 years, it just hasn't been enough, and we find ourselves having to add to it and wind up a little behind after Christmas. I'd like to find a way to increase that budget to around $1000 or $1200.

    That's for a family of 5, plus grandparents, and then we draw a name among other extended family to reduce the hemhorraging a bit.

  • readinggurl101readinggurl101 Posts: 2,573Member
    edited May 2014
    I'm 24 and single. My brother is 22 and his relationship is not at the stage where I would want/expect to give his gf Christmas gifts (although that might change this coming year). I spend about $200 -- $50 each on my parents and brother, and then the rest is cards and small gifts to friends and my grandmothers. (I'd give my grandmothers more but they don't want any physical gifts so I just talk to them and spend time with them as much as possible during the year.) Plus an extra tank and a half of gas for the drive to my parents', but I just pad the gas category for those trips.

    ETA My extended family is pretty big so we have a tradition where we stop giving gifts to each other once you graduate from college. All of my cousins are older so I don't need to buy them any presents. And my mom has decreed it is OK for us all not to buy presents for all of my cousins' children as there keep being more and more of them too.
    Post edited by readinggurl101 on
  • mellocmelloc Posts: 30Member

    Jessiebird, your dh sounds a bit like mine. His love language is definitely "Gifts" - which is both a blessing and a curse, LOL. Mine isn't quite as creative and over the top as yours, but he definitely goes all out. He also will often go out on Christmas Eve to get more. I love that he's generous, and I know it's how he shows his love, but since gifts aren't as big a deal to me at all, sometimes I'd rather have him not get me (or the kids) so much! The best was the year he got me gift cards to lots of different restaurants  - that bought us dates for many months! Win Win there.

  • PartyofSixPartyofSix Posts: 129Member
    edited May 2014

    I'm currently budgeting $150/month for a budget of $1800. I doubt this will cover it:/. Looking at last yr we spent close to $3k. We are a family of six, and buy for extended family as well. It does add up quickly. I typically pick up extra shifts to swing the extra cash.

    We also fund $85 a month on gifts and often I find myself having to add more $$.  I guess gifts are a 'big' thing for us.  I have two kids in school and they get invited to lots of parties - so that adds up quickly. Then family and friends and teachers and births/deaths/weddings.......it seems like giving happens at a lot if social functions!

    Post edited by PartyofSix on
  • TarilynTarilyn Posts: 23Member

    I have a payroll savings through work that I use for our Christmas shopping.  I let it build up all year and then cash it in around November.  It's usually $1000-$1200.  My parents are divorced, so I have 2 families to buy for.  My boyfriend also has 2 kids, and we buy for our best friends as well.  With my Dad's family, we've started drawing names, which helps out quite a bit, but on my Mom's side we LOVE christmas.  I don't really put dollar limits on gifts, I'd rather buy gifts that I know someone would really love, then put a cap on the amount.  That being said, the number in my head is usually around $100.  That's what we spend at my Dad's.  Usually I spend what I have, and if we go over that amount, my boyfriend pitches in what he was able to save as well.  This has always worked for me, and I never have any christmas credit card bills to pay off.  I'm a big list maker!!

  • tartanfairytartanfairy Posts: 136Member

    I have a gifts category that I fund with£50 each month, this is for birthdays/Christmas/weddings ect. For birthdays and Christmas I spend £100 on my boyfriend and £30 each on everyone else. Total on Christmas gifts is about £400 (including work secret Santa). I make my own Christmas cards.

    I normally buy a new outfit for Christmas night outs and Christmas Day (comes out of mental well being category).

    I go to my mums house for Christmas dinner and my sister and I make the starter and the pudding (comes out of food category). 

  • pebblepebble Posts: 3,478Member, Beta Tester

    Like @tartanfairy‌ , I have a gifts category that covers Christmas, birthdays plus miscellanous things like the occasional house warming/wedding/work farewell etc gift.

    I add in $50/fortnight which builds up to about $1300 a year.

    According to YNAB's reports (very cool, I haven't drilled down to a certain category and specific dates before!) I spend $531 on gifts between October- December.  These would all have been Christmas gifts, I try to buy thing gradually starting from about September/October so there is no last minute rush.  This also included about $50 for a mini tree and a few decorations plus cards, wrapping paper etc.

    We flew out on holiday on Christmas Day last year, so any eating/drinking and general merriment would be in the holiday budget, not gifts.  If we stay at home (hopefully we'll be flying away again this year) I'd need to add another $300 or so probably for extra food, drinks, activities, fuel etc.

    Interestingly, though, I've spent over $1000 in my gifts category - most of that was in Feb when I my best friend, dad and husband all have birthdays within 10 days, so that included one dinner out, one breakfast, one lunch plus a few gifts.  So, Christmas is only half of it, February's almost worse for me!

  • polstarpolstar Posts: 148Member

    Last year, I spent £250 on gifts and £300 on extra food, which included a cash donation to my sister, who hosted family lunch on Christmas day. The gifts were for my parents, sister, brother in law and niece and grandmothers; I send a small something to aunts/uncles and cousins, such as some packets of seeds and a related recipe, or some home-made biscuits.

    When I was looking at my Christmas fund yesterday, I realised I needed to up my monthly budget to £50 or so to be able to spend the same again...that really brought home how much I spent. I have better use for that £50 each month!

  • bethsteelbethsteel Posts: 19Member

    I believe we spent about $800 this past Christmas. I would not be surprised if we spent more than that this year, now that we can plan for it.

    Both boyfriend and I don't have that many people to buy gifts for, but our costs absolutely skyrocket from having spread out family. No matter which way you slice it, someone's gift involves shipping costs, and then there's airfare/gas (depending on the year).  

    I don't mind going all out though, because my family never did a lot of celebrating for things like birthdays, Mother's and Father's Days, etc. Christmas season is the splurge. 

  • bettymae1121bettymae1121 Posts: 127Member

    For gifts, we usually come in right around $500, but we have a small family so that helps.  I try to keep non-gift Xmas spending (decorations, wrapping paper) to under $100, it's only that high because I'm still building our supply of ornaments, lights, knick-knacks, etc. In another few years that should come down, I hope.

    I spend a bit more for groceries too since I usually host Xmas day dinner, and cook something nicer than usual for Xmas eve.

  • VixxVixx Posts: 8Member

    We're big fans of Christmas, but really had to cut back last year. I think we did it all (inc. food) for around £800, which includes the gifts of our immediate family (myself, my husband, our 10yo son) and family and friends. For those of us with kids, however, we tend to only swap gifts for the children. Means Christmas isn't quite as much fun, but is much more financially friendly! 

    This year, thanks to savings, I've got £1000 budgeted. However, I'm hoping to reduce that to £750 as we're planning on saving all of our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to fund the Christmas food shop this year! ;)

    I think having kids - and the Christmas secret - can make things really, really hard for parents at this time of year, particularly if they're very young and don't appreciate the financial pressures. 

  • Semirhage527Semirhage527 Posts: 2,320Member, Beta Tester

    Christmas spending appears in two places in our budget.  We have a Gifts Master Category and Christmas is one of the sub-categories.  It gets $24.58 per month with the goal of hitting $295 by December.   We only buy for 3 people -- my mother, his mother, and my sister.  The $295 also includes a small sum for cards we send to others.  

    We each have a master category for our personal spending, and each of us has a sub-category, "gifts for spouse" line that gets $25 a month and is used for any gifts we give each other throughout the year -- birthday, Christmas, etc.   Most of the time anyway, last month my sweet romantic husband insisted on spending some of his personal clothing budget to buy me a dress he thought would look nice on me.  He got serious brownie points for the effort ;)

    Last year, we also added a Holiday Expenses category as a rainy day fund, after we realized that our overall food/travel spending increased dramatically during Thanksgiving/Christmas.  The Holiday Expense category gets $30 a month and we'll use that to buy our Thanksgiving turkey (instead of distorting our grocery spending like we did last year), lights, travel home, etc.  

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