Christmas, it’s the spirit of joy and a reminder of Jesus Christ and all that is good and happy in this world. I won’t even let my kids talk aboutthe possibility of Santa being “pretend” because he simply isn’t. He is everything that is good and charitable in this world. We see him in so many places at Christmas. I love the spirit of Santa Claus because it so closely resembles what Jesus did when he was on the earth.
And then there’s the presents. All the presents….
The stores, the wrapping (UH the wrapping!).
Suddenly all that spirit I was talking about is gone. I feel frustrated and sad, deflated and tired.
That’s not how Jesus wants us to feel.
Buying Christmas gifts on a budget has many things going for it.
- You don’t over-spend and over-saturate your kids with gifts.
- It doesn’t make you hate the January credit card bill — it’s not a surprise
- Sometimes the best gifts are less expensive, and just takes a little thought.
I’m sure you guys can all think of your own reasons to do Christmas on a budget. I’m sure most of us go INTO Christmas thinking this year will be different!
I resisted it for a long time. Somehow, I equated Santa with piles and PILES of toys. Plus, toys for babies are so cheap we could buy and buy! I loved it!
Here are some tips for buying Christmas on a budget that I learned over time:
- Buy at 2nd hand stores. I have a personal rule that Santa doesn’t bring things from Goodwill. He only buys new toys for little boys and girls. He sometimes just buys accessories for something fantastic that was bought at Goodwill. I’m not saying that everyone has to have this policy. But, back to 2nd hand stores — they’re AWESOME at Christmas. I bought Princess P a whole fancy kitchen, it was pretty expensive (although, not insane) but I regret not having bought it 2nd hand as those toys hold up really well to a lot of play.
- The budget could be a # not really a $ — sometimes I say to myself that each child is going to get 5 gifts, and that’s it. The reality is that Princess P would literally scream over a ream of paper for her to color on. The other two want something a little more expensive to ooo and awh over! That usually means one very large item and then 4 other smaller things (often accessories, I am not too proud to wrap up a cord for a phone in a separate box). I do try to even out the # of boxes to open, hence wrapping the cord separately.
- Look at what your family can afford, or wants to afford. I think it is important to have a # in your head, although I’ve actually never done Christmas that way. I do plan to keep an extra 500 our of savings to pay them off in January, but it’s all a mental thing
- Try to fit Christmas gifts into your regular budget. I tend to pick up things at Costco through much of the fall and that I just absorb into our normal Costco budget, that way I’m not faced with as much financial ugliness come January.
- Write it down — if you plan to only buy 5 things, write down what you’ve gotten along the way. I have a password protected file in my phone’s memo that keeps all my secrets. I also write down ideas I have for each child there.
- Don’t buy something just because it’s “the”thing — I have mulled and mulled over getting Princess P an American Girl doll. However, my mom has gotten her a couple from Target that are really similar and they have just sat unloved in her closet most of the time. However, the crayons and markers I got her last year have been WELL loved (and are likely to be re-stocked this year).
- Think about what they REALLY want. I think a big part of Christmas is getting that thing your mom would never really let you have. Like in A Christmas Story when he gets the bee-bee gun. That’s Christmas to me. So, I’ve gotten my kids wii’s, I’ve let my parents buy them DS’s — and life kept going, the world kept turning and they didn’t turn into spoiled brats. If there’s something they REALLY want, can you make it happen (and you might not be able to, that’s OK too).
- Include books. Books are SUCH A great gift! The kids are home, they need something to fill the quiet electronics-free time that I demand daily. Having a new book is exciting. And fairly cheap (I get books at Goodwill all the time for Christmas — check there!). Games are great too! Brings the whole family together while you’re all home!
- Think activities more than stuff. Our house is pretty full, my kids really just want to play on their phone, tablet, DS or any item that is charged. Getting us all out of the house to DO something or GO somewhere is a total win.
- Think subscriptions. I’ve been seeing SO many cool subscription programs popping up. They can save your budget by paying for them a little bit all year. Plus, I REALLY like that not ALL the joy comes on Christmas. Spread it out all year! Some ones that I really like are in this post:
Some photos from dollar photo club.
Check out my gift guides for more Christmas ideas!