7 Christmas Budget Areas Beyond The Gifts
When considering your Christmas budget, it is easiest to figure out the amounts you require for the gifts.
- Will you budget the Canadian estimated average of $850?
- Or will you spend less than that?
There is no easy answer to how much you spend on Christmas. Everyone has different access to money, different customs, and expectations. This is an individual family budgeting decision. There is no right or wrong answer, other than to spend only what you can afford to spend. Don’t start the new year off with increased debt.
As a result, there are many more things to look at when figuring out your entire Christmas expenses. In fact, there are 7 areas of your Christmas budget we will explore today.
For instance, do you already have an artificial Christmas tree in storage? Perhaps you traditionally go and get a real tree. And then there are all the lights and decorations for both indoor and outside.
Let’s not forget all of the food too. Do you host any Christmas dinner parties? If so, what do you need to purchase, bake, or get a caterer to provide?
As you can see, there are several things to consider when deciding ultimately how much you need to have in your entire Christmas budget.
1. Starting With The Gifts
Some of the extra expenses you need to calculate in with your gifts include:
- wrapping paper or gift bags
- basket wrap
- perhaps even a gift wrapping service
- postage or shipping charges
2. Christmas Cards
Although not as many people exchange Christmas cards anymore, there are still those who do. Especially the older generation. So you need to figure out whether you are:
- Buying Christmas cards or making your own.
- Also you need to take the time to gather up all the current mailing addresses.
- Don’t forget the money you need for stamps.
Barry and I still have some people that we exchange cards with. Those who reside in our community, we try to take a few minutes to slow down and go have a cup of tea with them. However, just like you, our schedules get crazy busy and, this is not always possible. So, pop a stamp on the envelope and mail it. However, that stamp expense can quickly add up if you have very many Christmas cards to give out.
3. Traveling Expenses
Does everyone come to you for the big feast? Or do you have to travel across Province or State to get to the big celebration?
If you and your family have to do the traveling, don’t forget to calculate those costs too. Costs such as:
- meals while traveling
- air fare, train fare, or other even bus tickets
- accommodation, how much is the motel or Bed & Breakfast?
These are just some of the traveling expenses you might run across if you have any real distance to go. So make sure you budget for those as well.
Even the gasoline used up while doing some more localized day trips needs to be factored in. Especially if it is using more fuel than you normally have budgeted for your family on a weekly basis. You may need to scrounge up extra cash to pay for an additional tank or two of gasoline.
How elaborate are you with the decorations? Do you decorate inside and out?
Barry and I, don’t even put up Christmas lights or even a tree anymore. We enjoy the light and yard displays of our neighbors instead.
However, with small children in your home, the excitement of Christmas also includes the joy of decorating.
So the decisions of what kind of decorations and whether to make or buy them needs to be considered.
A great place to round up some decorations for:
- the tree,
- and even outside,
can be quickly located at your local Dollar Store. However, don’t let the fact that things are $1 or $2 each fool you. If you don’t go in with a list of the type of things you are looking for, and a set budget, you can quickly find yourself in financial trouble.
You know what I mean—that trip to the Dollar Store can quickly get out of hand. Suddenly you are at the cash register with a cart full of really cool, yet cheap items. Then the cashier asks you for a total dollar amount that sets you back with surprise. Yes, you know what I mean. I’ve done it too!
So, even at the Dollar Store, enter with a list of specific items and a predetermined dollar amount that you are willing to spend. Factor this into your Christmas overall budget.
Also, you can grab some great deals at thrift stores, garage/yard sales, and even local Christmas bazaars. In Muskoka, an annual tradition for over 10 years now is the Christmas Giveaway hosted by Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs. This event provides free artificial trees, lights, decorations, and even winter clothes to many hundreds of families every year.
5. Yum! Don’t Forget The Food!
Admittedly the food is one of the biggest highlights of the Christmas season. As a result, these costs need to be considered as well.
Are you providing any extra meals? Perhaps you have a pot blessing event to attend, so you need to factor in the food items you are taking.
And of course, there are the cookies, bars, pies, and more.
Hey, while you are busy baking in the kitchen, why not make some of these goodies into actual gifts for some on your list? They will “eat them up” for sure. Many of us enjoy good home cooking. And knowing that the best ingredient baked in is “love” makes these baked items even more special.
So, making a small tin of cookies for family is perfectly acceptable. One year, money was tight and I made some Bon-Bon Cookies and bundled up a tin of them for my sister-in-law. She loved them! In fact, the next Christmas she wanted to know where they were. She had hoped to get another cookie tin of them.
Oops! This might start some new family traditions.
But remember, when cutting your financial burden of the season, the greatest gift is the memories.
So, don’t be afraid to make memories out of tin of cookies.
However, don’t forget to calculate the costs of your supplies. Buy the 10kg bag of flour when it comes on sale for $7.99 or less. Stock up on 2kg bags of sugar when they are on sale throughout the year. Doing this will help ease some of the expense of other items such as the candied fruits or fancy sprinkles.
6. Family Traditions
Perhaps your family has some already well established traditions. You know, those things that make Christmas, Christmas for your family. Perhaps it is the addition of a new Christmas ornament for the tree every year. Whatever your tradition is, if there is a cost involved in making sure it happens, add that into your Christmas budget as well.
Perhaps it is going Christmas caroling and you need to grab some hot cocoa afterwards. Whatever those incidental expenses might be, don’t forget to add them. After all, they help to make those precious Christmas memories that last a lifetime.
7. Charity—Sharing God’s Love With Others
The Christmas season is a big time of year for charities. Whether it is humanitarian such as the Christmas Kettles, or medical research, or even a disaster relief fund, these donations must be factored into your Christmas budget as well.
Perhaps a memory making family tradition is putting together some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. As I’ve pointed out earlier, a trip to the Dollar Store seems inexpensive, but if you aren’t careful, you can quickly get caught of guard at the checkout. So, make a budget for your charity gifts as well.
Other charity donations may not cost you physical money. For instance, it could be as simple as giving the winter coats and boots that your children have outgrown to a local coat drive.
There are many ways that you can give back to your community that do not cost a lot. This is especially important if financially you don’t have a lot to give.
- and if possible, money.
But remember, there are many ways to demonstrate God’s Love to others as we celebrate this season of the Birth of Jesus.
7 Christmas Budget Areas Beyond The Gifts
As you can see, when one stops and starts calculating the different areas where you spend money at Christmas, it can quickly add up. Let’s recap the 7 Christmas Budget Areas that you need to consider:
- gift extras such as the wrapping
- Christmas cards
However, if you prepare some budget amounts to work with, you can accomplish this. The ultimate goal is creating precious family memories rather than putting your family into financial distress in the New Year.
Remember, decorations can be as simple as construction paper chains wrapped around the tree. Why not try making a string of popcorn? Make an extra bowl of popcorn and enjoy a family friendly movie afterwards. Then you can tuck the kids into bed knowing this is a memory that will last decades. Much better than buying a commercial strand of decorations that have no personal connection with memories.