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Holiday Budget Planning and Results

The following is a post from staff writer Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting for the fun stuff along the way.

I’ll admit it. Mr. BFS and I went a little Christmas crazy this year. :-)

In the past, we’ve limited ourselves to $400-$500 for all of our family, friends, and each other. This year we seemed to have spent about $850. We had a great financial year, so this hasn’t hurt our goals or budget (much, lol), but I’m surprised on why our costs zoomed up.


I apologize to everyone who’s ever had my husband and me over for the holidays. We spent a few extra hours this December cleaning and about $150 extra on food and small decorations.

The three get-togethers we hosted were a ton of fun and totally worth it, but I’ll just forewarn anybody who hasn’t hosted before that there are some extra expenses to keep in mind.

Remember that you will need enough chairs or sitting room for your guests. We already have “invested” in a hardy table and 4 chair set from Lifetime, so that helped. You’ll also need to budget for extra food. We kept it simple and cheap by doing a one-pot meal and then hosting a potluck, but we then threw the budget out the window and served steak, chicken, and fish for Christmas Eve, so that all added up.

Secret Santa’s

My husband and I participated in 4 more Secret Santa’s this year than last year, which accounted for at least $100. I personally love gift giving, so I’m perfectly happy we spent the extra dough, but it is something to keep in mind. The extra $15 here and $20 there really does add up. My words of advice on this are to pick your Secret Santa groups wisely and budget in advance for the extra cash you will need.

Lifestyle Inflation

Our last main reason for going over our normal spending amount seems to be that we concentrated on finding the right gift for the right person and disregarded the prices somewhat. Even though we all agreed on spending $25 or less on gifts, we sort of ignored that rule if we saw something that was just perfect for a certain person. This explains the $60 photo printer we bought for my husband’s grandfather, lol. Again, I am not complaining, but keep in mind that small splurges in gift amounts add up fast.

Overall, it was a fantastic Christmas and I wouldn’t mind repeating it next year. I’m just keeping in mind the extra costs so I won’t be surprised again. :-)

How did you do with your holiday budget this year?



  1. We did very well! Our budget was helped by my wife making some of the presents. She loves doing that and there is nothing like putting some of your self into a present.

  2. We too had a bigger budget and pretty much respected it, except for a $50 more than expected. I don’t mind spending a lot for Christmas if I think I can afford it. Since it was the case this year, we were very happy to give those gifts. I also ended up buying more gifts than expected because a lot of them were reduced. So instead of stopping there, I found something else that could meet the initial budget.

  3. Hi Crystal! Sounds like you guys had a great Christmas.

    One of the reasons why I Christmas shop all year is because then I can find the right gift for someone, but usually get it on sale, or wait for it to go on sale (rather than buying everything in December or November).

    This year however, I only completed about 50% of my Christmas shopping come November, so we definitely spent more than normal too!

    Happy New Year’s:).

  4. I did pretty well. Stayed under budget for gifts for family and made presents for my co-workers and friends. Minus my glue gun burn I would say it was a pretty successful Christmas!

  5. I find with any set budgets (like $25) for gifts, they tend to forget about taxes and extras. Its great to buy something online for $25, but when shipping is $6 and tax is another $5…. well, that gift is now $36.

  6. As a family, we don’t over indulge with Christmas presents and swapping presents so it’s usually easy to keep it under budget. We pretty much had everything planned and organized by October. The ‘social’ part and eating out was low-key this year so that helped keeping the VISA bill under control.

    With young kids though, my budget is bound to go up … What’s the rule around presents for kids as they near teenage age? It wasn’t much back in my days . . .

  7. I also went over budget this year, mainly because we spent more on a couple of people (like my mother-in-law) than we had budgeted. All in all, though, we did spend less than last year. And I agree that Secret Santa’s do add up!

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