The key to surviving Christmas – Be Less Generous

Christmas.  The ultimate wallet-drainer.  Fund-sapper.  Broke-maker.  You either have to save  for months ahead of time or throw everything on credit and pay it off for the next year.  It’s a difficult time, especially this year for a lot of people. 

My side of the family is all pretty tight on funds this year, so for the first time ever, we exchanged names and are all only buying one gift.  We increased the per-gift budget, but we’ll be saving about $300 in the end. 

We also pared down our budget for the girls.  Last year got out of hand with Eirinn (poor Avery was still at the stage where you could wrap an empty box and she wouldn’t have known the difference).  She was two and got a portable DVD player, for Pete’s sake.

This year I think we’re spending about half on them, total.  Between getting one bigger present for the two of them to share, instead of a big one each, and I haven’t spent full price on anything (BOGO’s and 50% off’s at Toys R Us and the standard Winners’ discount).  Plus I’m putting larger sized things into the stockings, as opposed to a million little things. 

Some of the stuff I’ve bought is stuff I had to get anyway, I’m just wrapping it up and pretending it’s a present (beach towels for a trip we’re taking, plate & bowl sets that we were running low on, etc.)  I can almost not count those because I would have to buy them anyway, whether they were a gift or not. 

Don’t get me wrong, they will still get their fair share of Barbie’s and Moxie Girls and baby dolls, but more like one each instead of one in every colour, which is usually my style (I did, however, have to get an entire collection of board books for Avery, but I got them at half price at Winners, so it was basically like I bought 2 books instead of 4, right?)

I think AH are forgoing large gifts for each other in lieu of saving for a tv that we’ll purchase at an enormous discount (fingers crossed) during the Boxing Day sales.

Another technique for spending less, or at least presenting the illusion of spending less, is that I’ve stretched my spending over a few months.  Twenty dollars or so a week is a lot easier to stomach than $1000 dropped at once. 

I’m still spending a ton overall, I’m a Christmas nut who likes to give even more than receive, but I’m slowly getting it under control and being more sensible with what I’m buying.

***

What are you doing, if anything, to make Christmas easier on the budget?  Are you crafty and making gifts?  Paring down your spending?  Cutting people off of your gift-giving lists?

***

After I wrote all this, I did a mental inventory of the girls’ gifts.

They’re getting a wooden train set with a table to share, a movie each with a matching teddy bear (Snow White and Tinkerbell), a stack of books, two outfits, plate/bowl set, a Barbie car w/ two Barbie’s for Eirinn and a coordinating Barbie for Avery, a Moxie Girl for Eirinn and a present-yet-to-be-bought for Avery (the only thing I have left to get for them).  And that’s not counting their stockings, which are about half full of beach towels, train conductor sets, two tree ornaments each, and more books.

Post re-titled “Do As I Say I Do, Not As I Actually Do, Because I’m A Dirty Lying Liar McLyington With Spoiled Kids And An Empty Bank Account.” 

I guess I suck at self-restraint.

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11 thoughts on “The key to surviving Christmas – Be Less Generous

  1. I’ve decided to not pay any of my bills. I’m liking it so far. Of course, they’re going to take my stuff soon, but that’s okay, it’s just stuff.

  2. I am brutal!!! I swore I was going to spend less this year and I’ve spent more!! I got way too much for Aleah. I might actually just keep some stuff for her birthday (that’s how overboard I went). At first I thought I was only going to get certain things, but once I got out shopping, I saw so many things that she would love and I caved. Stay away from Chapters!!! I went nuts in their this year. They have such fun, educational toys. Owen is getting every single building/design toy there is. He has Jeff’s exact engineering brain and loves that stuff so as his Mother, I can’t help but buy him the things he needs to advance those skills (and to hold his interest for long periods of time which in turn helps moi!)
    Anyway, no tips for spending less here. Do I buy things on sale? Yes! Do I look for the best deals? Yes! Then because I buy on sale and get good deals do I make up for it by buying more? Yes! It’s just too much fun spoiling kids at Christmas!

    P.S. Where are you going on a trip? Oh how I’d love to take a trip!

    P.P.S. Does Eirinn like My Little Pony? That is Aleah’s fave right now. The baby ones that come with the theme parks and coffee shops and salons and everything else under the sun.

    • We’re going to Disney World next October. We’ve been planning it since before Eirinn was born. We said we’d take a trip to Disney the second we’re done having kids and the youngest is old enough to enjoy it.

      Eirinn likes My Little Pony, but she completely into Barbie and Polly Pockets, especially.

  3. We’re definitely cutting down this year. Since Alex has been sick, we’ve lost approx $500 a month in wages and it’s starting to take its toll. We’re just getting one small thing for each other and one toy and some clothes per kid. Extended family will be receiving lesser gifts, probably gift cards. We have no choice. Everyone understands. The girls always get so much from the in-laws it’s usually shameful. Half the time I don’t want them to open some of the items so we can give them to a Christmas Charity.

    At work I’m running a food bank drive and a children’s christmas drive and the more and more I hear the statistics, the sadder I get. We’ve already raised two “paper” boxes full of food, and we still have 5 weeks to go. I’m hoping to get a total of 8. It’s for our local food bank in Pickering and they could really use our help. It’s a very sad time of year for some people.

    • What a coincidence, I’m also running the food drive at work! I’m just getting started this week, though, so no progress to report as of yet. Although, I brought my contribution today and it filled the box I had for the drive! I think I need to get a bigger box!

      I always make the girls (well, I do most of the work) sort through their toys and books before Christmas and birthdays. We have a strict One In One Out policy with toys, so before Christmas we will donate a good sized garbage bag or two full of stuff they no longer play with.

      • Good idea the one in one out.

        re the food bank, we’re doing theme weeks. Last week it was Italian Dinner. Anyone bringing in food donations were asked to keep to the theme, so we got a lot of pasta and sauces etc. If they brought a themed item in, they got a ticket for a raffle (for a company coat, hat and scarf) as an added incentive, people love Swag! This week’s theme is baking and we have been pretty successful so far.

        When the box fills up, we put the contents in a back room that’s lockable and the empty box goes back. We plan on taking a picture of our drive against our logo (in the boardroom) to use in our newsletter (which I also do).

  4. We’re cutting back this year. In fact, our group of friends that we usually gift-exchange with are now doing Secret Santa only for the kids (I’m the cheapo that suggested that). And family is getting entirely jilted from us this year, we’re on a crazy strict budget, so they will be receiving homemade stuff instead of the gadgets/electronics we usually wreck our heads trying to find.

    That being said – I just went out this weekend and splurged on a new Christmas tree. But that’s an investment… 😉

    Good on you for having all your shopping done. Wow. I haven’t started. At all. That’s a lie – I bought 2 pairs of pj pants at Old Navy during their sale this weekend for the hubs. Go me.

    • Well, I am ALMOST done the girls and I have a couple of things for AH, but other than that I haven’t even started. I mean, that’s the majority of it, but I still have most of AH, 7 other family members, 2 kids’ gift exchange presents, and Bosco. If I’m committed to cutting spending, I could probably not buy anything for Bosco. But then he’d be sad.

  5. We tried to scale back and do an exchange between siblings and spouses but one shopaholic sister pooped on the idea. For the kids we actually have scaled back. I gave M and L 20 bucks each to buy a gift for each other and G. G’s already done his shopping. After that they get one gift from the North Pole and 2 from me and Shawn (and whatever gets stuffed in the stinky socks!) Since we are doing Christmas at my parents the kids won’t even really notice the scaling back. Presents for 12 people=score!
    We will make a cash donation to the food bank again this year. They get discounts and know what is needed (last year they were able to buy 200 lbs of food for every $200 donated)

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