Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Simplifying Christmas~Simplifying Budget and Gift List

The Simplifying Christmas Meme is hosted by Heather at Heart of a Mommy. If you would like to participate, or just read about how others are Simplifying Christmas, click here. Today's Topic is about Simplifying our Budgets and Gift Lists

Every year my family tries a little harder to simplify our Christmas. We have made steady progress each year but still feel we could cute back.

This year's budget and gift list for my family:
$150 each for our 4 kids (This may seem like a lot but last year for instance my girls got an ipod and boys got a guitar plus a stocking with candy)

$25 for my husband and I (We have not exchanged gifts in several years but my husband said that he missed it and would like to this year)

We have instilled in our children a heart for serving and giving instead of getting or being served. This has helped our family a lot in controlling the gimmies. Therefore we volunteer through out the year at various places instead of only during the holiday season.

We also like to make and give what we call token gift to friends, co-op teachers, neighbors and librarians. They are usually small food gifts or crafts. We have made cocoa envelopes, bags of 2 cookies each, small boxes with 2 homemade chocolates. We usually make 25-50 to hand out and it can not cost more than $5-10 total for the project. Our rule is that it has to be nice enough that we would be happy to receive it but that the receiver would not feel the need to return the favor. Believe me we really have to think to come up with that many gifts for so little but it is a fun project.

You can really put together some nice gift baskets or bags if you consider the following places for cheap gift ideas:
1) Dollar Stores
2) Thrift Stores
3) Yard Sales

When my children were younger we had a tradition of taking them to the dollar store and they could buy a gift for each sibling and parent. Then we would go home and decorate lunch sacks or they would wrap them and put them under the tree. On Christmas Eve we would exchange these gifts they really enjoyed doing it and they were so happy to be able to give. We discontinued the tradition when the kids decided that it was too much money to spend for our family ($20 total).

We decided many years ago to not give gifts to friends. They are welcome to come for dinner or invite us over during the holiday season. We have friends who invited our family to visit the weekend before Thanksgiving and we all had a lot of fun hanging out and we baked cookies, make hard tack candy, and make popcorn balls.

The one think that stress me out about the gifts is I always feel like I give nice things but they are not always appreciated by my extended family (notice my short list). We have never exchanged gifts with my husbands family because his dad would just sent a check for the kids, his mom couldn’t afford anything, and his brothers are in their mid twenties and since it was never started they don’t expect to start.

We have a very short list of extended family members to give to: $5 budget per person

My Dad (John Deer Stocking & ?) $1.00

My Mom (A cat themed gift basket that I put together collected from thrift stores and yard sales) spent $1.75

My sister (A collectible salt & pepper shaker themed gift basket that I put together collected from thrift stores and yard sales) spent $1.50, brother-in law (?), and 2 teenage nephews (Computer Games) spent $6.00 each boy

My sister (?) and 1 teenage nephew (Movie) spent $3.00

Our rule is to not start a gift giving tradition with anyone so we are not forced to keep it up. As soon as my children and nephews are grown we will completely stop all gift giving to the people on our short list which should be in the next 2-3 years. We do not want to keep it going so long that they have to start giving because the short list could start to get too long for everyone. We intend to only give gifts to our grandchildren whenever we have some and not to our kids or them to us.