So far in this series we’ve talked about why we’re on a mission to create a more meaningful Christmas with our kids, changing our mindset about the holidays and five ways you can earn extra cash for Christmas {we also discussed in this same blog post why you may not need to do so!}.

Now that we’re inching closer to December, I wanted to share some ideas for “keeping it real”–in terms of your holiday budget, that is.

A budget for the Christmas season really consists of more than just buying gifts. In the past I was unrealistic about what this busy season was really costing our family and so I because a little stingy as we approached Christmas. Human nature being what it is, I tended to skimp on the giving to others. In an effort to be more realistic, lets look at what holiday spending may include:

  • Gifts for spouse
  • Gifts for children
  • Gifts for family
  • Gifts for teachers, coworkers, friends, etc
  • Christmas cards
  • Stamps for Christmas cards
  • Wrapping paper, bags, bows, etc
  • Food to bring to Sunday School programs
  • Food to bring to school programs
  • Food to bring to parties or gatherings
  • Food to bring or prepare for a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal
  • Ministry donations
  • Church giving
  • Tangible giving to charitable organizations
  • Miscellaneous, “can’t believe I forgot about that” expenses
Whew! Just looking at that makes me tired! 
Do you know that December 17th is a HUGE day for online retailers? It’s the cut-off day for shipping your gifts so they arrive before Christmas. Thousands of retailers offer free shipping, mostly because they know people wait until the last minute and will impulsively spend money in droves.

Don’t want to be that person? Would you rather spend wisely so you can give more to causes that are important to you and encourage a giving spirit in your kids? Here are some tips that are helping our family this year to keep our budget realistic and more simplified:
  • Look at your income and make an estimate of a general amount you would like to spend on Christmas this year in the above categories. 
  • Earn extra cash to make that possible or cut back on your weekly coffee habit for a month or so. Easier said than done, right? But remind yourself that its worth it, especially if you’ve decided to increase your giving this year.
  • Decide what you think you should spend on each of your children, your spouse, family, friends, etc. Take away $5 from each of those numbers. {More on that in a minute.}
  • Log on to Pinterest {for a short time–ha ha!} or brainstorm only one or two simple homemade gift ideas that you can easily make for a group of people {teachers and friends and coworkers}. This not only helps you stay on budget but streamlines your gift-giving process {there’s the simplifying part} so you’re not wasting time searching for gifts online. Instead, spend that time creating a fun new Christmas tradition with your family or serving others {we’ll talk about ideas for that next week}!
  • Find some charities or ministries that you are passionate about and decide on an amount to donate to each one. Add $5 to each of those numbers. {Guess where those five dollars came from?} Here are a few ministries that we support.
  • Cut down your gift-giving list. Now, I’m not saying you should stop giving Grandma the jam from the home show that she loves getting each year. But if necessary, you may need to shorten your gift list if you have a tendency to buy something for every single person in your life. May I suggest though that you shorten your own personal gift list first ;)
  • Give “experience” gifts. Maybe instead of getting a bunch of things for your kids that will just clutter up the house, you could purchase an experience for them, such as a trip to a nice hotel with a waterslide park or a yearly pass to a favorite museum. There are good deals to be had on these things at various times of the year.
  • Find budget-friendly recipes that you can make for a holiday dinner or party. Erin from 5 Dollar Dinners has a great holiday entertaining e-book that provides lots of delicious and frugal meal ideas {plus lots more} that’s on sale right now for $1.99 {use the code THANKS}. 
Those are my thoughts! Next week, we’ll turn our attention to one of the most important parts of the Christmas season: serving and ministering to others with our family!

Your turn! How do you budget for Christmas while keeping your priorities straight? Share your money-saving tips in the comments!

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Feminine Adventures

Anna and I would love to have you join us for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Link Up! Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here.)

We’re now sharing some of our favorites each week over on our Thrifty Thursday Pinterest board!

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3 Comments on Making a Realistic Budget for the Holidays (Simplifying and Serving During the Christmas Season) and Thrifty Thursday

  1. Great ideas! I always struggle as one who LOVES to give gifts with keeping it simple…I have learned and the experience gifts are a great idea along with getting a family item that everyone can enjoy for longer than the 2 days one plays with it after Christmas. Thanks for the tips.

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