Do you have a Christmas Budget?

With December just around the corner, the media headlines are full of Christmas, from gifts to food to toys and budgets. Some families are no doubt anxious and worried about the holidays and seeing to it that their kids don’t go without and everyone gets something from under the tree.
Hubby found this one yesterday (source) and I thought I’d add my five eggs worth.
Grab a cuppa and a sandwich, this is a long one.

Budget is my middle name, but in years past (and now too to some extent) I had to plan months in advance as most Christmases saw me entertaining, not only the in-laws, but the ex wife and partner, and even an uncle and aunt invited to our house by previously mentioned in-laws, so I was busy in the kitchen most of the day.
Not everyone got presents though, and that wasn’t just because they never bought for us or contributed anything to the meal. My generosity could only stretch so far.
The article says Three Tips for managing your money this Christmas, but twice in the narrative they mention five.

The first is something everyone does all year anyway when they’re on a tight budget, and that’s to make sure all bills and expense is covered before you even start to think of extras.

The second is to shop around for presents and stick to a list (maybe that counts as two).
This is all well and good if you have the time, and the means, to shop around without being a busy parent holding down a job and having kids in tow when you want to shop. On-line shopping can come into its own then, but don’t forget to take into account delivery costs.

The third is to be realistic and make sure you can afford increased costs.

OK then, my five pennuth:

Have a budget, and stick to it. If you have a large family, everyone is probably in the same boat, so to spend a little extra on kids, buy token novelty pressies for adults. We had a LOT of fun limiting adult gifts to cost no more than £1.

If you are all going to one house for Christmas, have a Santa sack for the kids, and donate one gift per child in your family to it. So if you have one child, that’s one gift, two children two etc. You can do the same for adults, but for me Christmas is really for kids, the younger the more pleasurable because they have no expectations of designer clothes, phones or shoes.

Again if you are all meeting at one house, take something for the buffet table. Rather than alcoholic drinks, I used to make a fruit wine punch and continue to add lemonade to it thus weakening it down as the day wore on.

If you prefer to buy gifts for individuals. do not exceed your budget. Years ago for me it was £3 per child and £5 for couples, but you would be lucky to get something decent for that price today as cheap usually means nasty, unsafe and breaks within minutes, unless you can get something in the sales earlier in the year.
Yes, there is nothing wrong with buying Christmas gifts in the January Sales, or during the year to take advantage of bargains! The only drawback with that could be that tastes change in 12 months and you may have gifts unsuitable for those originally purchased for.

Many years ago Christmas Clubs were starting up in January accepting regular monthly payments which you would then receive in December ready to shop. Unscrupulous people and firms going to the wall put the kibosh on that and those who could least afford it lost hundreds of pounds, if not more. However, you could do something similar with a small bank account purely for that purpose in your own name.
Food shopping early is OK if you have Will Power or can hide it. Watch out for mince pies though, many of those in the shops now have a best before date BEFORE Dec 25th.

Above all, be honest with yourself and your family if you are feeling the pinch and cannot splash out as much as you used to or as much as you’d like.
Christmas is a time of joy and giving, but if you are going to get stressed trying to keep up with everyone else, there is always Plan B.
One box of chocolates or biscuits per family plus a card, and shut yourselves away for a few days.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the cost. Some people tend to forget that.

Here’s a poem I wrote for 2012

I think of Christmases long ago,
Holly, mulled wine and mistletoe,
Times have changed so much I know,
But we wish you a merry Christmas.

Twinkling lights on the Christmas Tree,
Wonderful food for dinner and tea,
Oh how merry we all would be,
Together each year for Christmas.

Presents were opened, one by one,
Thought and love packed into every one,
Happy and tired, when the day was done,
Warm memories of Christmas.

Loved ones have moved far away,
Keeping in touch whenever they may
As time rushes on, day after day,
But we think of them all at Christmas.

The street is quiet as we close the door,
Two of us and the dog, never no more,
Curling up by the fire with the ones I adore,
God Bless you all this Christmas.

 

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! We have recently lost our beloved dog Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney, and now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of my GSD so had hers done too. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
This entry was posted in Just a thought, money matters, My life, Opinions, Personal Thoughts, Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Do you have a Christmas Budget?

  1. rugby843 says:

    Pretty much a no gift holiday except for a book exchange secret santa

  2. willowdot21 says:

    I do agree Di , if you do not act sensibly it all becomes a nightmare 💜

    • I know, and I had my fair share of ungrateful brats after spending a fortune on them, money I could not really afford but it was ‘expected’. I am so glad it’s not like that any more and Hubby and I love our Christmases because we make sure we have some fun.

  3. I love the poem.

    When reading through the list I thought about Christmases past where the pinch I felt was because of my own insecurities. I was always afraid my gifts wouldn’t be good enough. And they never were. But that was because the recipients were ungrateful bastards. This year I am on a budget and I’m jonesing to buy the cats another climber but they don’t need it and the money would best be spent elsewhere. So no climber this year…. Unless I won the lottery.

    • Thanks Jen. I had ungrateful brats too……… I remember almost £300 of stocking fillers for one being referred to as Junk. That was the last year I spent a fortune on them.
      With Hubby, we had fun picking gifts at charity shops or car boot sales for pence because we were well and truly skint. Our first Christmas was one of the best actually, because we had so little spare cash and put more thought into what we bought, and for whom.
      Maybe you could revamp the climber a bit and save a few bucks?

  4. There have been lean and very lean holidays in my life. Now that I am retired I set myself a budget. It’s all about the kids. I’ve tried to stop all adult family gifting, but was vetoed. So I try to find a family gift. I used to have a “Christmas” saver account with my bank. It was awesome. I used to shop all year long for my kids. I had a locked closet with my stash. In my opinion it’s hard to buy for my grandkids now. They have everything.

  5. murisopsis says:

    Absolutely golden rules! We never broke the bank buying gifts (or food for that matter). In the early years when the boys were very young we were able to purchase a few things for fun and most of the rest were from Grandparents, Godparents and Aunts/Uncles…

    • When I was living in Bath, one year Masters of the Universe were all the rage and naturally the boys wanted them all. I met up with the ex wife and suggested her family buy all the bad guys and partner and I (and families) would buy the good guys. They got the lot, including the relevant HQs!

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