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It’s the biggest week of spending all year. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all in a row, it’s important to stick to a budget for your holiday shopping or you’ll easily overspend. Budgeting for Gifts this Holiday Season is a guest post.
Stephanie is the founder of Military Travel Mama; she is the wife of a military professional and mother to two children. Follow her blog for more about military life, military discounts, family trips, healthy eating, and parenthood.
Reduce Stress And Increase Festiveness
People get stressed out during the holidays, and one of the primary reasons for that is how much is spent every year on Christmas gifts. If you’re in a married household with sons and daughters who have reached adulthood, five of you could spend around $3,500 on average on gifts. That’s enough for a used car!
While some in the family may be doing well enough to afford so much every year, this can really stress the budget of others. It’s important to remember that there are other ways to show your family you care for them than purchasing expensive Christmas gifts. Following, several ways of reducing and redirecting Christmas spending will be explored to help get your imagination going.
$700 is the cost of a drive to that resort town an hour away, and a weekend—or even a week—in a hotel there. There are options at $50 a night which a small family could use; seven nights at that rate is $350. Even at $100 a night, you could do six evenings plus $100 for gas. Beyond that, just spend what you normally would on food.
Now granted, this isn’t always feasible for some families; but for those who have the ability to travel, it could be just the thing. There are also discount holiday specials available to take advantage of. In Costa Mesa, California, there are deals available for flights to Hawaii at $99 round-trip. Such deals fluctuate, so shop around; here’s an example of one from five years ago.
If you can find a cheap motel at $100 a night, you could fly in a family of five for two nights at that cost and spend a weekend in Honolulu for Christmas. If you’ve got relatives or friends in Hawaii who you haven’t seen in a while, and are themselves looking to shake things up for Christmas, you might go stay with them a week and still have money left over when you get home.
You don’t have to get everybody’s dream gift every Christmas. Sometimes that’s the thing to do. But as your children grow older, their desires will be something beyond the monetary. How do you buy your eldest daughter a husband for her twenty-fourth Christmas? Likewise, families strapped for cash probably can’t buy their sixteen-year-old a car.
But you could buy them a Matchbox or Hotwheels toy in the make and model of the car they desire, and wrap it up! Some teens may not see the humor in that, some will. Also, young children love candy, and it can be cheap. If you’re able to steel yourself against the coming sugar rush, this could be a good buy. As could jack-in-the-box type gifts, or wildly inappropriate ones. You might wrap up a stick of deodorant for your teenager.
As long as you have some “real” gift mixed in, you can have a very fun Christmas with gifts meant to be nothing but a joke. Time spent together is the most important thing. Even dream gifts are forgotten after a while, but family time stays with a person.
Budgeting And Strategy
You might set yourself a budget per person, then buy multiple gifts within that budget of varying kind. If you’re buying for seven, budget $50 per person and you’re at half the national average on Christmas presents.
You can buy them some curiosity from a flea market, a few savory sweets, maybe a joke t-shirt, and something special. This kind of strategy helps you maximize your buying power. Especially for young children, there are “cheap” toy solutions which are still fun.
Check out the Holiday Gift Guide for Unique Ideas
More For Less
Even the costliest Christmas is empty where families don’t spend time together. The chief element in saving money and yet having an excellent Christmas is spending time with those you love. Factor that in, and you’ll always have a good Christmas even when money is tight.