Not every Christmas is the same. Some years cost less, some cost more. This year ours costs less and we plan on giving more. We’ve decided to budget Christmas expenses at $325 for this family of five. This includes decor, kids’ crafts, presents, cards, wrapping supplies, everything except the kids’ Christmas pajamas (which I bought on sale last month).
Marcello and I feel strongly that God is calling us to give more. In order to give more, we need to save more. We want to give sacrificially, not just skim off the top. I don’t know how sacrificial not buying any holiday decorations or extra presents are, but it’s a start!
Here’s where the money went or how it was saved. Maybe you’ll find an idea that will help or inspire you to save a few dollars.
• We’re not traveling, family is coming here. (And we’re so excited!)
• Our kids are still young, so I can get away with simple presents — like making a regular binder a Pokémon card book with a cover printed on our home computer. They’ll be excited their name is on it with Pokémon! To be more specific, from us, the boys (4 and 5) are getting Playschool Star Wars ships, Pokémon binder with cards and figurines, art supplies, books and some second-hand board games and movies. Clara (19 months) is getting a baby doll cradle, baby, magic milk bottle, a wooden pull toy, play phone and dollar store bracelets.
• Marcello and I are not giving each other presents this year, but that’s not uncommon. We prefer to focus presents to each other on birthdays instead.
• We’re keeping things simple with family gifts. For a budget-friendly gift guide, go here.
• The kids are buying presents for family at the dollar store with their own money. I’ll let you know if the family actually gets any presents!
• Stick with the decorations you have. I wasn’t going to buy any new Christmas decorations, but I had a moment of weakness and spent $15 at the Dollar Tree. Darn it, sparkly over-sized ball and star ornaments!
• I get my cards for $15 from Costco. I saw the cheaper ones aren’t popping up on their photo homepage, so here is the link to the 50 for $15 cards. The card stock isn’t as nice as some, but they are going in the trash in a few weeks sooo …
• I buy one nice outfit for the boys each year that will work for any event or holiday (Christmas, Easter, school programs, weddings …). This year it’s black denim pants, light blue button-downs and navy and lime green striped ties. Getting a non-seasonal tie is key for boys so it works in summer and winter. For Clara girl, I found a sweet little red dress at Once Upon a Child consignment store for $7.50. (It’s Baby Gap and still has the tags on it.)
• The boys forgot about stockings. I don’t have a good place to hang them, so I’m going without them this time. Hopefully no one will notice?
• I got creative with holiday decor. We have a big rosemary bush out back, so I added some to a candle set I already have for a fun touch. And of course I made a couple placemat pillows. If you are tired of hearing about them I am truly sorry. They’re so easy and inexpensive I can’t help myself! At this point I’m just cutting a slit in the back of a placemat, sticking an insert in and not even sewing or gluing it shut! Such an easy switch out for every season. See here:
Here’s how you know what’s really important to people: Look at their calendar, and look at their bank statement. The way we spend our time and the way we spend our money says what’s really important to us. When you give to God, guess where your heart goes? It goes toward God. It draws you closer. It’s an act of worship.” — Rick Warren
Because we’re saving money this year, we’re thinking hard where we give it. December brings an overwhelming amount of donation requests. It’s hard to know where to give. I felt a gentle rebuke from the Holy Spirit years ago when I donated tithe money to an organization that was not Christ-centered. I’m not saying I wouldn’t give them money on top of tithe money, but God’s money should go to work for God’s kingdom. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Maybe you know someone personally who needs help, who is in a season of trial. I would urge you to get out of your comfort zone and do something. Do it with the name of our savior on your lips. It will bless them, the Lord and yourself.
Giving to others will bring more true joy than any new purchase or treating yourself. The high is higher and it is contagious. When you do something kind for someone, they desire to pay it forward. Has anyone ever given to you in a time of need?
I have so many questions for you. Do you think $325 is exorbitant or not enough for your family? Would you share how much you plan to spend on Christmas? Or how you plan to give?
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” — Matthew 2:10-11