General chatter - $$$ Holiday Spending on Gifts? $$$

12-01-2007, 08:46 PM
Hello all!

As I gear up to do my Christmas shopping, pretty much all online this year, I got to wondering what you all are planning to spend yourselves for your own holiday season. I thought it'd be interesting to have a poll and see what the average holiday money flinging will entail ;)

* Poll is optional of course! :D I'm also interested in your own thoughts on this topic!

I just transferred $400 from my savings account to my checking account in preparation for many online purchases tomorrow. I am aiming for that $400 to cover my family and friends: Total of 9 single adults, 2 couples (I'm planning on one gift for both of the couples) and 2 young babies, so about $31 per person, but some will be less $, some more $.

Some of these are friends who may end up with very simple and small gifts because we recognize we both like to keep it low-key. And the two 6-month old babies are definitely small bumps in my budget this year. As they grow though, those babies, my niece and nephew, are sure to get modern versions of the toys I loved as a child! ;)

I tend to overspend, at least compared to my salary, so this year I'm going to rein myself in more than usual. I also love the idea of 1 gift per person, and that includes from others to me, if at all! I'd like to keep my own giving and receiving heartfelt, simple and light. Like a good book, a hug, and maybe a plate of peppermint brownies & milk, heh!

But then, I've spent what was for me large amounts of money on gifts and loved every second of it :lol: I really enjoy finding gifts that the person will love... and yes, I have gone into debt on gifts before, though I try not to!

The reason I ask about specific dollar amounts is that I wonder how commercial this season really is. I get from the commercials on TV that the advertisers would love for our homes to be filled with diamond jewelry, big screen TVs, Wii game systems, or a whole bunch of big ticket items. Is this reality though? I'm not saying if it is that this is a sorry state of affairs ;) I'm just curious how representative of real life this luxurious spending really is of people today.

Please feel free to follow up with a post if you'd like, about what tiny or special or big gifts you are planning on getting... or holidays planned with thriftiness or homemade gifts in mind.... or how you feel about Secret Santa giving at your workplaces.

I'd also love to hear what some make for homemade gifts or plan for unusual gifts! :)

12-01-2007, 09:23 PM
Hmmm...there is a good question. I have four children and tend to overspend with them (as they get older the gifts are smaller but MUCH more expensive!).

I tend to struggle with gifts for those that I work with and need to get a little something .... I was thinking of decorating jars (or buying them) and putting pistachios in them...relatively healthy compared to everything else they will receive!

Something that makes a great gift for those that have little ones is to make an ornament and put the little ones pic in the ornament. I know they are selling these now but I have a bunch from when my kids were little (before they were selling them) and I treasure them more than anything else. My dh is a teacher and every year at christmas time he paints small puzzle pieces a green color, takes a picture of the students (in action), has the students glue the puzzle pieces around a wreath templete, has the students add some 'holly,' glues the pic in the center, add yarn to hang and they have a beautiful ornament to share with their family. He gets lots of complements...and, of course, we got the idea from a teacher of my daughters years ago.

I would love to hear other ideas!

12-01-2007, 09:35 PM
My husband and I have had small to almost non-existant Christmas budgets the last few of years. Last year was very tight, so we asked family members for a "no gift" Christmas. Most didn't listen, but at least toned down the giving. I guess we technically didn't abide by the terms either, as we made handcrafted gifts. Everyone loved the gifts we made (my husband cross-stitched, and I crocheted afghans), and my sisters even mentioned (hinted) when we visited in September that their afghans were getting a little worn out from constant wear, and they would certainly appreciate new ones for Christmas. I had some of my needlework with me, and my nephews (6 and 2) were pointing out projects in my books that they wanted me to make them for Christmas (they picked out enough to last the next 10 Christmases). I have a few surprises for them, but I did let them trace their feet and choose colors for slippers they picked out from one of my books. They're crocheted in three colors and resemble classic converse high-top tennis shoes. The six year old, chose blue, red, and orange. And the two year old, was just learning his colors, but picked the three he knows and likes the best: green, blue, and white.

12-01-2007, 09:57 PM
:) My family has spent the past few years NOT giving anything for x-mas as we just couldn't afford it. This year we are going to, but on a small scale. Here are some of my ideas....

1. Do an amazon wish list....I do this with a few best pals, and believe me, it really helps! All I have to do is order one or two things on their wish list (and it can be expensive or not), and it'll be sent straight to them!

2. Bake some cookies, or cakes, or as someone else suggested earlier, put some nuts in a jar and dress it up very pretty. Can give this out to co-workers, pals, etc. Not everything has to be material objects....

3. And finally, gift cards. I was astonished earlier when my local news stated that more than half of the gift cards given out last year went unused. It's FREE MONEY! I personally would LOVE to get a gift card, especially from a favorite store. Some folks say it's impersonal for a gift, but I think it makes more sense as the person can get what they really want, instead of you guessing for them.

12-01-2007, 10:29 PM
Although we really try to focus on CHRISTmas around here and the free BEST gift Ev-ERR that was given to us beginning with the birth of Jesus....we do enjoy the spirit and magic of SANTA.

We usually spend $150 on each with a daughter in law and son in law (rocks for him) added this year that will come to $ our extended family exchange of $25 gifts for the name drawn...mailwoman, newspaper, neighbor kids, church toys for needy, toys for tots...etc....I guess we are around $1,500. Gosh I shoud have voted after I added it up...I voted 900-1,100...oh well..gosh :dizzy:

12-02-2007, 11:16 AM
Our budget is low this year. I normally spend under $500. But this time needed to stay under $300. Altogether, I've probably spent about $250. Most of that is gifts for my son, and one gift exchange with my nephew. For the rest, I'm making gift baskets.

I found some wicker baskets on sale at Wally World for $2 each, bought a couple cans of green spray paint for .96 each and painted the baskets green. Bought 2 rolls of red and white checkered holiday wired ribbon with silver edging and am making bows and lining the edges of the baskets. Bought 4 packs of red and green tissue paper for .97 each. Bought a large bag of Lindor truffles (I think around $4), a bag of walnuts (probably 2 bucks), 4 bottles of apple cider ($1.97 each), a box of mixed Celestial Seasoning fruit teas (maybe 2 something), and a box of candy canes ($1.97). I'm going to pick up a bag of apples and oranges and some pears the week of Christmas and put the baskets together with walnuts and fruit, a bottle of cider, a pack of the flavored tea, some candy canes, a handful of the truffles, etc. It's cheaper than ordering something. Each one probably costs less than $15 and has more than one I could get from say Hickory Farms for $50.

12-02-2007, 06:13 PM
Just finished up the Christmas online shopping: $648. Not quite my goal of $400! :lol: I'm selling some stuff on eBay though for $247, so it comes out to be pretty much $400 overall spent in the budget :devil: Phew!!!

Next year I'm thinking I will make everyone personalized wall calendars. I'm a graphic designer, so I got the skills and printing presses and the folding and stapling machines at the office ;) I could put in photos I know each person would like, and family birthdays and anniversaries. I've had this idea before but never got it all together in time to create them (my job can be insane and I'd be designing it there after-hours, until I get a Mac at home.)

If I start now, I think I can pull it off for next year hehehe!

What do you all think? Personalized calendar = chintzy or a cute idea? :)

12-02-2007, 06:45 PM
I'm a grad student, and it's practically impossible enough for me to actually live on what I'm making, so it'll be a **** of a time seeing how I can actually afford to buy anyone *anything.*

I'm trying to keep it under $300, but I don't know how to do that without being just.. downright cheap. Oh well, it's gonna have to do!

I really like the personalized calendar idea.

12-02-2007, 06:48 PM
A few things I've done in the past for friends and coworker gifts:

~A bucket of unpopped popcorn from Blockbuster with a $5 gift card and 2 boxes of candy inside. This was a huge hit!
~I bought plain jars and filled them with homemade candies (truffles, buckeyes, almond bark, peppermint bark)Another big hit!
~Cellophane bags filled with homemade cookies *This is what I'm doing this year*

12-02-2007, 08:04 PM
I love the idea of personalized can take pic's all year and they will love it!

12-02-2007, 08:12 PM
I'm a single Mom so I only buy for my son. He still believes in Santa so it is more expensive at this point - but I'm glad he still believes. If I'm doing my job as a parent he'll always believe in the magic. I make cookies, fudge and such for neighbors and friends. Most people understand.

12-02-2007, 08:47 PM
We have a total of 6 kids and 4 grandkids. So, Christmas hits our budget pretty hard every year. I usually spend about $200.00 on each of the kids and can still get away with cheaper toys for the grandkids that are all age 3 and under. I always buy a more expensive gift for my MIL. This yr. I bought her 3 large mantel type shelves to hold the high school graduation pic's of all the grandkids. These were not cheap, but I know she has been wanting them and DH will have time to install them for her.

We always make sure that all kids and grandkids are bought for. If there is money left, then DH and I will buy gifts for each other. I have always told our kids that if there is anything especially expensive that they want to ask for it at their birthday when there is only 1 person to buy for instead of 15.

My favorite inexpensive gift I have received is a large jar of home-made sugar-free hot cocoa powder from my sister last yr. at Christmas. We ended up using all of it over the cold winter while playing cards in front of the fireplace. I did think of her, each time I made a cup.

12-03-2007, 12:19 AM
BTW, here's a pic of what I have so far. I also found those cinamon scented candles on sale for $1 each. I still have to fill it with the fruit surrounding the cider in the center, then add the tea, candle, candies and candy canes to the top.

12-03-2007, 12:28 AM

That looks AWESOME! Nice spray paint work! Those are gonna be really beautiful all filled up! :D

12-03-2007, 12:34 AM
I think the calendars are a great idea. That might be because I have made them for going on 7 years now. I use picture it to make a fun collage of pictures for each month and then I use Calendar Creator to create the months. People really do love and cherish them. I also put the birthdays and anniversary's on the calendar! Here are a couple from this year...

My budget is in the $1,600 range. I save for it all year. I just have so many people on my list.

Shy Moment
12-03-2007, 01:07 AM
We don't spend a lot on Christmas anymore. My children are now 17 and 20. I buy all year long and most of the thing are things they need and want like clothes ( these do not have to be new ). They get one big gift which is usually a video game. This year my daughter wanted a printer, found a nice all in one at tigar direct for less than 45 dollars includeing shipping. After the kids stopped believing in Santa we really started the " There is a reason for the season ", we always did this but more so after Santa was gone. Now, coupons for " Not having to do dishes night or mom will clean the bathroom on your bathroom duty night " are bit hits with the kids. My son gives me coupons like, one free oil check or air put in the car tires. My daughter gives me coupons like, will make dinner for one night or will fold all the laundry on my non laundry weekend. Gifts do not have to cost money. Those from the heart sometimes are priceless.

12-03-2007, 01:43 AM
When I was in college, I had no money for Christmas presents so I applied for credit cards (not for the credit card, but for the free gift they usually gave for signing up) for gifts for my parents. My younger sisters were 2 and 4 when I started college and I'd buy them several cute animal soaps (50 cents each or so) and buy a pretty handtowel or large washcloth to use as wrapping paper. After college, when I was living at home to save money and going to grad school, I gave them each a coupon book of 12 coupons for for a free monthly outing with me, (we called it "going sistering") to buy a $5 item. The each got their own seperate outing, unless they agreed that they wanted to go out as a threesome. We'd go to the bookstore or video store, or a matinee movie (which at the time was $5), the dollar store..... Anywhere we could spend a little time and they could spend less than $5 on something fun.

I knew they'd like it, but I didn't realize how much until the year of my first good job, and I bought expensive presents. They loved the gifts I gave them, but were heartbroken when there was no "sistering" coupon book. I told them we could continue the tradition without the coupon book, but instead they decided to make their own handrawn coupons instead. The next year, they reminded me several months before Christmas that they wanted "sistering" coupon books and we continued the tradition until they were nearly in highschool and I moved away.

12-03-2007, 05:37 PM
Hmm...ya'll are sure giving me some good ideas here! :) One suggestion for a few folks above....instead of trying to get everyone a gift, why not just prioritize things a little bit...for instance, get your family gifts, but everyone else a nice card with some cookies? There's no need to break the bank here...

Also, a friend of mine who comes from a LARGE family has this tradition set up....every year, they draw names and they only have to get one gift which is for the person they drew for. So everyone ends up with a gift, and no one is broke in the process...:)

My family has been more centered on just having a Christmas dinner every year rather than on the traditional huge tree with overflowing presents. It's amazing how much pressure society and the media puts on ourselves to meet that expectation.

12-03-2007, 06:10 PM
I splurge on my immediate family and my partner...everyone else gets something very small and inexpensive.

This year, my partner and I agreed on a mutual budget of $150 mom, dad, and sister will come to $250 or so total. Sarah's mom, dad, step dad will be about $200. So that is $750 for the immediate family gifts.

For casual friends, coworkers, etc, I'm making cookie baskets. My grandmother made them every year from recipes in her special cookbook, and she marked the years she made them next to the recipes. It is really special to be able to use her recipes. I'm also going to dip some candied orange peels in chocolate and possibly dry some persimmons to go into the baskets. Ingredients are pretty cheap, and baskets I'll get at the dollar tree, so the total budget for this project is about $100 for everyone (there are 18 baskets).

Closer friends and my grandpa are getting hand knit items - hats, scarves...Sarah is making blankets for her mom and dad. For all of the knit gifts (covering a lot of family, friends, etc) I spent about $200 in yarn (2 full blankets, 7 scarves, 8-10 hats)

12-03-2007, 06:10 PM
It's a darn good thing DH took our jars of coins to Coinstar over the weekend! He brought home $700. I have spent about $300 on each of my 2 kids. Everyone else gets a limit of about $50 per present (a lot of gift cards!!!). With the size of my immediate family that $50 per person adds up to $1000 (a couple friends are included). Then everything has to be shipped out! We always donate to charity at this time of year, too. And add to that the number of birthdays in the family (11 in Nov, Dec and the first week of Jan) at about $30-50 per bday gift, I'm up to $2000 easily. I'd rather skip the whole gift thing myself and just spend the day visiting.

12-04-2007, 02:46 PM
My budget until last year was much larger due to the fact I had more family Christmases to go to on both sides. I'm fortunate in a way I guess that all of my family members except two family members all live within 30 minutes-5 hours from me here in DFW Texas. I also have a very large family on both sides. Then last year both of my grandparents on my dad's side and my mother's side, they decided they couldn't physically handle hosting the Christmases anymore at their homes since they are getting in their 60s/70s and now it has been delegated to their children and it's usually the people that live the farthest from me that offer to have it at their house and they all do it on Christmas day so I have to pick and choose whose house we go to and often we just go to the Christmases that are closest to us since me and Hubby only get Christmas day off and don't want to spend it traveling. I find it's easier for me to stick to a budget when I just do gift cards or cash and I don't get all shop-happy from looking around haha. I started doing gift cards three years ago when I got a whole bunch myself and I realized how much I really appreciated gift cards because I can choose what to get and not have to deal with returning things that I don't like or things that don't fit and etc. I really love craft gifts of all kinds. I'm just not a crafty person myself. I always screw something up. I can bake and cook but that's it. My budget is always 500-900. This year I'm doing pretty well since I've got a lot less people to shop for again. I've only spent $610 so far (this includes my christmas gift and hubby's christmas gift which were 200 each, he got a gun and I got a nice digital camera) and I'm going shopping later today with a friend and have three more gifts to buy for my best girl friends and something for my mom. And I intend to only spend 20 each on my friends and my mom I have no clue what I'm going to be getting her lol. But I'm liking these ideas that I'm reading. I think next year I'll be doing more of these crafty ideas since I'm tired of the commerical feel of the holidays already and I've not been on my own that long and actually buying gifts and I really do not do huge gifts either, I've only been gift buying for only 5 years and I'm already tired of it and when I have kids I want to instill the idea of being together with family on the holidays is fun and visit and not have it just be centered around gifts. I'd love to learn to knit and etc. So I guess I know how I'm going to be spending my holiday vacation lol teaching myself to knit.

12-04-2007, 02:59 PM
I have a budget of $25 per person. That is all immediate family (parents and siblings, BILs, SILs, nephew, niece, and a very close aunt). DH and I agreed on a budget of $100 for each other. We are buying two very close family friends presents (again, the $25 budget). All in all, it will come to about $650. Not too bad considering my budget (before DH and I agreed on how much to spend on each other, so not including that) was originally $400.

12-04-2007, 03:11 PM
We are dirving from Washington to California for Christmas with three stops in the state. Given the price of gas, hotels, and food we have to limit our gift budget to under $300. We are trying to keep each gift under $20.

We are buying for immediate family (Dh has a large family) and our circle of close friends has decided to pick names this year. I'm making some gifts (crocheting a purse for the friend whose name I got) and I'm baking cookies/fruitcake. I've also been making those crocheted snowflake ornaments that you starch. They are surprisingly easy and quick to make.