Keeping Christmas Simple: Part 1 (Gifts, Shopping, Spending)

by Merissa on December 10, 2012

in Featured, Simple Living

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Christmas is almost here and planning is in full swing now. Have you ever stopped to think about how much time and planning we put into one day? Yes, it's one lovely day, but still, kinda crazy when you think about it!

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It can get overwhelming. You want to have a nice day but you also know that you can't break the bank. No day is worth waking up in January with a pile of debt. So how to we do that? Have a nice sweet, simple holiday without having a completely stressful time getting it put together?

First, set a budget.

No really...I mean it. Know how much you are going to spend on each person and don't go over that limit. I'm sure you will have some on your shopping list that have a wish list a mile long but you don't need to fulfill that.  They may want those things now but in the long run, time, effort, and love are what they will really appreciate. Maybe that sounds a little cliche' but in the back of your minds we know it's true.

Make a gift list up for the year and keep it in a special binder.

That way you always know what your gift recipient wants throughout the year so if you see a special sale you can grab it then, instead of being pressed to shop and bargain hunt all in the last month of the year.

Shop in whatever way is easiest for you.

I know we all say that we would love to support small businesses and shop local but honestly, it doesn't always work out with our budget and with our time. And that's ok! This year I couldn't get out as much as I could in previous years so I stuck with mostly Amazon purchases that I could get shipped right to my door. It definitely lessened the stress of shopping (no surprise here but I'm not in any way a big crowds person!) and I could stay under budget and still get great gifts.

Stop beating yourself up about giving homemade gifts!

There is nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, wrong with giving homemade gifts! I think it's amazing! It means that you cared enough to put your time and effort into something special for your gift recipient instead of just picking something out at the store. (Of course there is nothing wrong with that either although I suggest heart goes into both types of gifts!) If it makes your life and the life of your pocketbook easier by making and giving homemade gifts, then by all means, do it!

Here are some of your Christmas budgeting ideas from the LHL Facebook page:

  • We make our gifts for each other and friends - Sandy
  • My family just does "secret Santa" so we can ensure everyone gets something and we focus more on our time together than in gifts. - Kim
  • I prefer to do homemade. - Dawn
  • Our family does a Pollyanna, too. On Thanksgiving we draw names. The gifts are handmade and under $20. Family is more important than fancy gifts. - Naomi
  • Hubby and I always decide the amount we have to spend total on the 3 kids, then we divide that equally into thirds so that we spend the same amount on each kid. the kids know this and know that if they have an expensive item coming they will obviously have less total gifts. - Every Which Way But Down
  • We pick up stuff during the year and usually we are almost done by Nov. I love to shopt sales and clearances! - C Misty
  • Quite a few years ago we decided that Christmas was too expensive and, therefore stressful. We made a pact that our budget would be £10 per person. But we love giving LOTS of gifts to open so it gets terribly competitive as we try to outdo each other whilst keeping in the budget... You'd be surprised at what you can achieve... My Mum looks out for free samples and various collect X box tops and send off offers. My sister has an eye for a bargain and trawls the sales. And I am pretty crafty so do quite a bit of hand made stuff. This year Mum has rediscovered a passion for knitting so I daren't buy a new woolly hat! We have way more fun than we did before our pact and don't worry about how we are going to cope with the January overdraft... - Amanda
  • We started using the 4 gift rule last year. Something they need, something they want, something to read, and something to wear. - Aimee
  • We use points on our credit cards to get gift cards for our kids and older grandkids. We still buy for the little ones. Very stress free... - Nancy
  • We do black friday shopping every year. We bring 300 dollars with us and we can usually get the entire family done....both kids, my parents, Russ's parents and my siblings and their spouses. Not bad... :o) - Krystal
  •  I try to set a $50 budget on my kids because I always spend the same on my kids and their significant other. I try to make it special for each one of my kids and get gifts that pertain to their interests or what I feel will be special to them. - Janica
  •  We do a bit of everything, really. We do buy some gifts, usually small things. I am always making something, be it a cross stitch, or this year I'm making skirts. We sometimes re-purpose things we got for other holidays that didn't quite fit us, but always carefully and in good taste. We also give cookies, candies, and other home-made edibles, plus this year I'm doing up jars with cookie stuff in them. - Allyson
  • We use points on our credit cards too. I "buy" gift cards for the stores I know I'll be shopping at, and then go purchase the gifts. We really don't buy for many people. Mostly just our son, our few nieces and nephews and a small gift to each other. - Laura
  • We have an only child (expecting number 2 in April), and our rule is that "Santa" stuffs your stocking with candy/cheap trinkets/things you need (socks, gloves, etc), and you get three gifts from mommy and daddy. If three gifts were enough for baby Jesus, they are enough for you.  Our total budget is $100 max. - Laura
  • I make, garage sale, and buy on sale all year long, and stuff in the closet. I take it all out the first of Dec and hope I covered all I need - if not, very little remains .... And starting Dec. 26, I'll start sales for next Christmas. - Marci
  • Yard sales, thrift shops, homemade goodies. Three kids, six gifts each plus handmade items for them in their stockings. I also cash in on surveys, mturk, and swagbucks throughout the year. I don't think I have spent out of pocket more than $100 so far, biggest purchase being a refurb tablet from brads deals for $50 for my oldest daughter. I sell on yard sale sites and trade as well. The stress and credit card debt isn't worth it. The kids help make the homemade gifts, they also each have a 10$ budget to but for each other, handmade tokens as well from then to extended family. - Julie
  • Never really had one until this year....had a "family" meeting at Thanksgiving so everybody knew what to expect...set $$ limit at 25-50 and let everybody know from those of us that had "overspent" during the "off season" will be giving homemade gifts. - Mindy
  •  My husband and I set a $30 limit for each other who ever gets closer wins and the other person has to make a three coarse meal with ingredients the winner chooses. Kinda like iron chef. Then for the kids we do one gift for each child, one gift to them all as a family, and then we fill a stocking with small stuff. But that's it! - Erica
  • We do 4 gifts each for our 4 children: Want/Wear/Need/ Read(Educational). The want gift we have the kids give that to each other. So they get to help pick the want gift. - Carlena
  • This year, we have a new nephew in the family (the first) and we aren't buying gifts for everyone as we usually do, we instead are pooling our money and just buying gifts for the new baby. - Being at Home By Nature
How do you budget for the holidays to make life easier on yourself?

Find more Simple Living Tips on Little House Living.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jean(ie) December 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Hubby’s girls came up with a great holiday gift idea for family. Each member draws one name and that person gets a handmade gift. One gift for the whole family. The rule is that it has to be at least 75% Handmade. And you have all year to make it. I drew my son-in-law and he got a upcycled denim and flannel quilt. Hubby drew his ex-father-in-law and we made a jam-a-month package for him (homemade jam!). It’s actually fun! And the one gift? Easy peasy.

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2 Sassysally July 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

I have 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren. I decided to go with money gifts last year so each couple got $75 and the singles got $50. Then I did stockings with beauty and hygiene products I bought throughout the year. The grandkids got a special gift, a book and a stocking. Kept my stress level way down. I also compile a calendar using pics from our vacation to give to other family members. I know that gets used.

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3 meital November 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

I actually make most of my Christmas gifts by myself…people appreciate them more and I have fun making them…

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