How much do you spend on Christmas?

ghaynesghaynes Posts: 71Member
edited August 2012 in Frequently Asked Questions
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: 642Member, 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: 322Member
    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: 3,793Member, 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: 56Member
    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: 1,854Member, 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: 1,481Member, 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: 4,555Member, 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: 3,328Member, 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: 2,166Member
    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: 2,496Member, 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: 71Member
    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: 50Member
    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.
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