6 Years of Blogging. This article has been viewed 12,131 times since it first published in 2007. We have a ton of preparations for the holiday, but a good perspective keeps us focused and frugal.
We received a question from Maria asking how we budget for Christmas. We surprise people when we say we spend roughly $300 during the month of December specifically for Christmas gifts. Here are some principles we live by throughout the year to make sure we’re prepared during the Christmas season.
1. We shop all year long. If we are at a garage sale in June, for instance, we may see a great deal on a toy that we can’t pass up. Every sale we come by, we ask ourselves, “Should we save it for Christmas?” After buying it, we’ll stuff it in our closet. We have a few boxes of stuff in our closet that are “hands off” for the kids. We pull these boxes out around December 1 and sort through them all and make a list to make sure everyone gets a gift.
2. We keep to a list. All our kids get the following from Mom & Dad: 1 present, 1 book, and 1 stocking stuffer. We wrap all this on Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed. Our kids traditionally get up on Christmas morning to see a floor full of gifts under the tree. We don’t veer from our list; everyone gets the same quantity from Mom & Dad.
3. We emphasize gifts to each other. Mom & Dad aren’t the major gift-givers in our family. The kids spend December making gifts for each other, visiting the dollar store, and wrapping gifts to place under the tree. Already (today’s Dec. 4) there are about a dozen gifts wrapped and sitting under the tree.
4. We don’t give a lot to relatives and friends. We have nieces and nephews that we send gifts to, and they are, truthfully, a bigger part of our budget than our own kids. Friends don’t get a lot from us. We also don’t give to adult relatives anymore. We used to do this in our 20s, but we don’t do it anymore. We don’t feel like we’re missing anything, either.
5. We exchange Christmas letters. We pour a lot of time and energy into creating a Christmas letter that we send to approximately 300 families (we post it online, too, sometime in December). We can’t afford to give gifts to all our friends, but we don’t really feel the need to. We love our friends and we’re glad to share the Christmas season with them through letters. We take each Christmas letter we receive and tape it to the wall. By Christmas, we have hundreds of pictures, letters and cards covering our dining room wall. It is quite the conversation piece in our home. There is usually a family picture of families bigger than ours!
6. We emphasize the spiritual roots of Christmas. Gifts are awesome, and it is a great amount of fun to have the gifts stack up under the tree throughout December. We hold off on our gifts till Christmas morning. For one, this builds excitement for the kids. But more importantly, we spend Christmas Eve celebrating the Ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ to the world. Every kid prepares a “gift” to Jesus (a song, poem, speech, picture–something of their talents), we read the Christmas story from the Bible, and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
That’s how the Jeubs do it! Do you have ideas on how to celebrate the Christmas season without being caught up in the expense of it all? Post your ideas in the comments section below.