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How Much Are You Spending for Christmas?


After reading the responses to how we are already over our $150 budget for Christmas, I thought it might be interesting to hear about your Christmas budgets (if you celebrate). You may want to include info about what it includes since that can vary.

For example, our budget includes the following:
– Gifts for family, friends, teachers, etc.
– Cost for lighting displays (estimated – nifty calculator here)

Our budget does not include the following:
– Toys for Tots purchases (they go under donations)
– “Special” food for Christmas Eve & Day (that goes into groceries)
– Spending for any new Christmas decorations for the house (they go under household since they are reused every year)

On the same note, a reader sent me a tip (thank you!) about a thread on the MSN Smart Spending message boards about Christmas shopping in case you would like to read more budgets or add to the conversation there as well.

Smart Money Christmas Thread (hopefully this link will work for a while).

So…how much are you spending for Christmas?

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  • Reply Rob in Madrid |

    As we don’t have kids and no local family we tend not to do much on Christmas. We don’t bother with lights or trees any more, not that I’m a Grinch but I found they tended to look more tacky than anything. I love Christmas lights etc. This year will be a bit different as we have family visiting (wedding present) so since they are on a very tight budget I expect we’ll pick up alot of the costs for them.

  • Reply Twiggers |

    Last year we probably spent over $5,000 on gifts and another $1000 on decorations and stuff. This year we’ll be under $500. We’re going to visit family out of country so we won’t spend anything on family here in the US. My Dad & I agreed not to buy gifts for another since he is going through some tough financial times….instead we’ll spend a nice dinner together and celebrate that way. My brother is also going through some financial stuff so we won’t exchange with him. That just leaves $40 for coworkers, about $150 for grandparents, and a couple hundred for Mom.

  • Reply SusanG |

    We spend about $1500:

    $300 for our son
    $200 for my husband
    $50 each for my parents and my in-laws
    $50 each for nieces/nephews (6 of them)
    $20 each for 5 bosses
    $40 for the tree
    $50 in tips for hairdresser, newspaper deliverer, mail carrier, UPS carrier
    $100 for gift wrap, stamps, pictures for holiday cards, and the cards themselves
    $200 for Holiday Dinner
    $50 in baking supplies

    which leaves us with about $60 for host/hostess gifts when we get invited to parties (about 3 each season – a $20 bottle of wine for each).

  • Reply Jade Cow |

    We spent about $250 on gifts for both families. We like to give my younger sister some cash to spend on herself and we bought something nicer for his parents since they are paying for our wedding. We have all the decorations we need from previous years, so we are only going to buy a Christmas tree ($50). Then there are gifts to each other. We tend to go all out with those, but I think this year we will each keep it under $200 (in previous years we had spent as much as $500 each). In part this is because neither of us wants anything particularly expensive this year. We are careful to use wish lists, so we only get each other things that we really want or need rather than clutter.

    Overall, I think it doesn’t matter how much you spend, as long as you can afford it! If Christmas gifts are super important to someone, they should put away money for them throughout the year so that they can go all out. If there are not, then small thoughtful gifts are plenty.

  • Reply Abigail |

    My husband shops in a very particular way. He wanders the stores and gets inspired that way. He does some brainstorming ahead of time, but mostly he’s an in-the-moment guy.

    Because of this, I’m giving him a slightly larger budget than mine, since I’m a planner by nature. Through MyPoints and shopping a few sales/garage sales, I am able to keep my side of the spending to right about $100. I’ve asked my husband to keep his down to $300 — preferably $250.

    I would have a lower budget than that, since we’re repaying some credit card debt, but it’s our first Christmas as a married couple, so we want to celebrate a little bit more than we otherwise would.

    For his parents and brother, we’re getting one main gift and then a small item for each of them. The main gift will also be covered by MyPoints and for his brother, we’re regifting an MP3 player. My mother’s gifts have been gathered over sales for a few months now.

    So that should have us come in around $400. It’s still not ideal, but we decided that a little bit of celebrating was worth it.

  • Reply Meg |

    I just finished blogging about this, it’s fate.

    Originally we didn’t set a budget.. horrible I know.

    But when I sat down and totaled it all up we came in at $156.96 I can’t believe it was that low this year. I’m so proud.

    Missing Christmas Budget

  • Reply mc |

    Stockings: each child received a Christmas ornament that reflected their hobby/interest & chocolates (total about $15-20 each child)

    Gifts: each child receives 3 gifts (about $50-75 per child depending on age as teens seem more expensive)

    Church giving tree: 2 gifts @ $25 each

    We do not give one another gifts or buy for extended family. We do send Christmas cards which is about $100.

    I will spend a lot on food & baking supplies. Our holiday tends to revolve around church, the kids and family rather than presents.

    We have 1 family gift that we open for the epiphany – probably $100-200 range.

  • Reply Rachel |

    We budgeted $250 for kids outside our immediately family (nieces, nephews, etc.) and only spent $108.37 instead (score! ;)).

    We originally had budgeted $750 for our family – 2 adults and 2 kids plus that budget pays for our tree and christmas cards/stamps for this year. BUT we cut way back on our budget due to a medical bill for my daughter breaking her wrist a couple months back. We have spent:

    $80 on a tree, stand & flocking
    $25 on new stockings for the kids
    $50 on my husband’s gifts
    $28 on Christmas cards (we still need to buy stamps)
    $100 total on both kids for 1 small present each and 1 larger present plus stocking stuffers

    And we’re done – the only things left we will buy are gifts for the kids from Grandpa (he sends a check and wants us to go pick them out) and my husband wants to get me a gift but I don’t even want him to – if he does it would be $50 or under.

    This does not include the Operation Christmas Child we did this year which was a little over $150 to do two boxes (one from each child) and also did not include the 2 children we sponsored through our church to have a Christmas party in Uganda this year which was $100.

  • Reply Sallie's Niece |

    I used to have a $50 limit on all family members and then give gifts under $10 for a couple of friends. Now I’m hoping to get away this year with no more than $200 all told. Not done shopping yet but I hope it works.

  • Reply Jilse |

    We set aside 1,000 into our holiday account this year. We’ve just finished up our shopping and we spent 780.00. We generally spend 50 dollars a person for our Mom’s, Dad, and siblings. I spent 80.00 on my hubby, and he spent about 75.00 on me. I spent around 150.00 on each of our girls. Yes, a little much but they really don’t get anything through out the year until Christmas from us, so we spoil them a little.

    Extended family we’ll spend 25.00 on, and for my daughter’s teacher we’re spending 10.00. We’ve cut back since last year so I am pleased.

  • Reply jolie |

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I honestly have never calculated my Christmas expenses. I suspect I just did not want to know. I am finding it very interesting reading the responses and seeing how different people budget for this. I guess I will have to do some math to figure out mine.

  • Reply MB |

    I just calculated it out and we’re coming in a hair over $200. That includes gifts that are donations made in honor of someone else. With 12 people that we’re getting gifts for, I don’t think that is too bad.

  • Reply Frugal Dad |

    Our Christmas budget is $700 this year, and includes a couple “Secret Santa” missions and other donations. We have agreed, as a family, to skip buying presents for the adults and buy only a couple nice gifts for the kids in our extended family. We saved in a Christmas fund all year, which made shopping so much sweeter this year–all cash!

  • Reply Ali |

    After figuring out what I could actually afford to set aside for gifts this year, I am looking at a $400 budget! Eek! Luckily I don’t have kids to shop for. (I did budget in a few toys for Toys for Tots which is a personal tradition for me.) So far I am doing ok after asking everyone for a list of 10-15 things around $25-40 each. Course I had to provide one of my own. We all agree that we have plenty & aren’t in NEED of much. So we are able to get the items we want for each other instead of having to come up with something that may end up in the regift bins. Sales & coupons are my best friend right about now…. that & half.com & ebay.com!

    Good luck.

    Stinks to be in debt in the holidays, but I just decided that I will pay a touch more than my minimum payments, even if I would like to & normally would pay more. I love my family & enjoy giving gifts… just can’t over do it this year.

  • Reply Brenna |

    My husband and I started this tradition about 8 years ago when we were going through school – no gifts – just time spent together. It’s been tough to enforce with the rest of the family and since we are expecting our first child any minute now, this year we emphasized to family no gifts for the adults.

  • Reply cheryl |

    We are somewhat similar to you. Our food for that day and all goes towards our grocery budget.

    Total for presents for me and my husband, our pollyanna with two other family members, all nieces, in laws, friends and bosses – 13 people total was $523.16. My husband and I spent more than that alone on what we got each other last year. So we really cut down.

  • Reply Ssmith28 |

    All total my gifts for 16 people will be right around $275. Luckily some siblings went in on some bigger gifts and we have the only grandchild photo mugs with his picture printed on them for $9 have proven to be a very hot commodity among the grandparents. I doubt hubby and I will do gifts for each other since we just dropped some serious coin on new garage doors/openers. I am very pleased looking at that figure because. We paid CASH! for everything. In the past December was always crunch month and we always leaned on a CC to buy gifts. It feels good not to pay for someone’s else’s “stuff” with interest for another two or three years.

  • Reply Honey |

    I get an extra paycheck in January and after figuring out my January expenses (that’s when my car insurance is due b/c I pay for 6 months at once), I figured that I had about $550 to spend.

    $200 boyfriend
    $50 best friend
    $30 next best friend
    $50 sister
    $30 dad (he doesn’t want anything but I usually get him a calendar with pics of me from throughout the year)
    $30 two immediate co-workers (though I am thinking of making some breakfast breads for them instead)
    $55 bf’s cousin
    $40 bf’s aunt
    $30 bf’s grandpa
    $30 bf’s grandma

    We do all make lists so that everyone gets something they want and will actually use.

  • Reply Jim ~ mydebtblog.com |

    Our budget is $750 which is taken out of 3 pay periods, one from last month and the two this month. I feel good about this too because it’s planned and we’re not using our credit cards. In years past, everything piles on the credit card and those statements come January are scary.

  • Reply Stephanie PTY |

    It’s looking to be just over $250 for me this year. I’m a college student, about to graduate, so I’m somewhere between trying to save my money to start a life, and wanting to be a responsible adult that gives as much as she receives.

    I’m mostly focusing on my family, and I’ve kept some costs down by spending a good amount on ingredients for cookies to give to my siblings and some of my friends. I like the idea of working on my baking skill and also giving a gift that I know will be enjoyed! I’ll have to keep my other gift hush-hush for now, though!

  • Reply danielle |

    This year, it’s cookies for everyone. A lot of them are already done and in the freezer. I may still need to get some more eggs and butter, so what’s that? Like $5 max?

So, what do you think ?