Last year we spent $414.84 on Christmas gifts. The American Research Group reported that the average spending for Christmas in 2015 was $882. That means we spent less than half the average last year. This year, I’ve set a goal to spend just $50 total for Christmas.
(My husband looked at me after reading that last sentence and said, “$50…really!?”, like I’m crazy or something… 🙂 )
One issue with spending less than the average family on Christmas is that the kids pick up on it, especially as they get older. They see their friends receiving gaming systems, computers, tablets and new iPhones. And sometimes they express their disappointment over not having such extravagant gifts on Christmas morning. But I do think they (eventually) come to understand.
Could we afford more expensive gifts? Yes, but it would limit our ability to do other things. Instead of buying expensive gifts, we take vacations (admittedly on a budget), go camping and boating and enjoy various other activities, such as water parks and rock wall climbing. These activities create more lasting memories than a new iPhone ever could.
This year, I’m going into the season more prepared than last year. I love a good challenge, so I’ve set a total budget of $50 out of pocket for all Christmas gifts. Though I don’t believe in excessive gifts, I’m no Scrooge. Nor am I Superwoman.
To accomplish this feat, I’m using my cashback credit card rewards. I have right around $300 in cash back credit card rewards available right now. But, even with the rewards, it will be a challenge to keep my spending under a total of $350.
Anyone want to play along? Even if you don’t have cash back rewards, you could challenge yourself to spend less!
How We Gift
As I was writing this post, I was trying to remember what gifts we gave last year. Honestly, though I can remember a few, I have forgotten most. The gifts I do remember giving? The ones we made ourselves!
We try to make as many homemade, handmade gifts as we can. Last year, we gave our parents a handmade bird feeder, crocheted scarves (for moms and grandma), wooden coasters, and homemade jam. Best of all, they loved these gifts!
For some odd reason, teens don’t have as much appreciation for the hand made gifts. Go figure. So, most of the cash back rewards will be used for our teenagers’ gifts, which will be $100 or less each – and from Amazon, as I don’t like to “go shopping”.
Our daughter’s teacher gifts will be a small treat and gift cards purchased with credit card rewards.
In our attempt to simplify over the years, we have whittled down the list of people we give gifts to. Though the grandparents more than make up for our limited gift giving to the kids, we have asked them to cut back on gifts too. Less spending, less shopping = much less stress. Win-win.
What We Do
My husband takes a week off each Winter break and we all hang out with extended family and at home with the kids. I LOVE this time of year. It’s like a staycation – which I love because, unlike a regular vacation, there isn’t the stress of packing and traveling.
During the week, we spontaneously find activities outside of the house, like rock wall climbing, going to movies and going out to eat. We travel to my in-laws for a couple of days (this just costs gas!) and spend time with my family during the week too. The fireplace is often roaring on days spent at home, with lots of popcorn and Redbox or Netflix movies, plus games! We often spend the week mastering our strategies on the new games we received as gifts.
It’s relaxing and simple. It’s about the time spent that counts, not the money. And, it’s positively wonderful!
Giving is an important part of this season for us. People seem to be in a more giving mindset this time of year, so I like to take advantage of that to collect donations for a local shelter. For the past three years, I’ve set up a collection at my daughter’s school and we’ve collected truckloads of needed items for the shelters. Over Winter break, we get a few kids (and parents) from school together and deliver the donations. Last year, we even got to tour the homeless shelter, a great experience for everyone.
Giving to those in need in our community helps my family just as much as it does those we are trying to help. Every year when I’m in my garage sorting donations for the shelter, I’m overwhelmed with emotion at people’s generosity with their donations. The feeling of gratitude is indescribable.
How do you do Christmas? Have you tried to spend less and simplify the holidays? What’s your most memorable gift?
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