I thought Christmas was in the winter?

Is it just me, or does it seem like Christmas is being shoved down our throats sooner than normal? Don’t get me wrong. I freakin’ love me some Christmas time. The music, the awesome movies, and the overall joyful spirit of most people make it my favorite holiday. But Christmas spirit is for Christmas time, and according to my calendar we still got plenty of time before Santa Clause’s fat butt makes its way down my non-existent chimney (so sad the Ninja abode doesn’t have a fireplace).

Costco started putting their Christmas products out back in mid-October. OCTOBER! That’s insanity. I mean come on, we had two MAJOR holidays to get through, Halloween and Thanksgiving. I think Costco is lame for jumping the gun on the Christmas spirit. I’m a much bigger fan of the way Nordstrom has handled the holiday season. Check it…

Although I don’t like celebrating Xmas before Thanksgiving, it’s important to be mindful of the expenses associated with the season. To the best of my knowledge, Girl Ninja and I have spent exactly $0.00 on Christmas gifts thus far. There are five in my family and six in Girl Ninja’s. That makes eleven total people we will be buying gifts for (counting ourselves). Since it takes a good chunk of time to shop for eleven different people, we sat down last weekend to discuss our Christmas budget.

Last year we spent around $1,000 (don’t remember exactly how much) and felt pretty good about it. We were able to get some solid gifts for the ones we love without losing sight of what the day is really about. Since the budget last year seemed pretty reasonable we decided to keep it the same this go around.

As Girl Ninja and I talked about what our limit was for each other we thought about making it a set dollar amount (like $200 each), but instead decided on a new strategy. After we buy our nine family members gifts, we will split the left-over money between the two of us. If we spend $600 on our family, that leaves $200 for each of us to spend on each other. If we spend $800 on them, we have $100 for each of us. Definitely keeps things interesting.

I have no idea how good of an idea this actually is, but you know what they say ” ‘Tis the season…to totally experiment with a new way of budgeting.” Yeah, that’s exactly what they say. Right?

How much is the Christmas shopping budget in your household? Do you set a specific limit for each family member (like siblings $50, parents $100 etc)? Anyone else notice stores started pushing Christmas way early this year? WHY!?

30 thoughts on “I thought Christmas was in the winter?”

  1. nothing! well, nearly nothing. We buy presents for under 18 year olds in my family (which means four kids this year) we don’t buy our parents gifts although we do sometimes get a super market voucher. I bullied my workmates out of secret santa this year and we all put in our five bucks to by a world vision gift. And did I say four kids? The youngest, mine, isn’t even two, he’s not getting a present better than being allowed to rip every single tissue out of the box and maybe run around the house naked for most of the morning. We can use some of the mountain of tissues carpeting the floor to clean up puddles. Two things that will fill his little soul with glee. We have a big lunch, awesome deserts and read terrible joke books, we are also in the southern hemisphere, so we might drag out a paddling pool or sprinkler to play under. I hear tell that some people make a big production of it, I think I have two christmas ornaments and they were gifts!

  2. In my family and my husband’s family, you buy gifts for everyone under 18 (cousins and cousins’ kids). We have 14 to buy for, so the gifts are about $10 each. I also have four nieces and nephews…they get about $50 each.

    We probably spend about $50 on each parent and each sibling, too. My married siblings usually get a joint gift with their spouse.

    We’ve never gotten our grandparents a gift, but now that we’re full-blown adults, I think it’s time. That’s another $100 total.

    So, after we buy for each other too, it will be about $1,000.

  3. We spend about $1,000….which includes our 2 kids (including Santa gifts), both sets of parents, work collegues, teachers (and with a special need child, we have 8-10 just for him), and a few friends. And ourselves. It is all about the budget in our house.

  4. Canadian Thanksgiving is in the middle of October, which means there’s no major holiday between Halloween and Christmas. So the Christmas decorations tend to go up first thing in the morning of November 1. My city already looks like a winter wonderland. It’s kind of awesome. Even though it’s still an unseasonably warm 15 degrees C.

    Last year I think the budget I set for Christmas was $500, which included all of the gifts I had to buy, plus my tree, any new decorations I wanted, and extra money for going out with friends, which I obviously did more of during the holidays than I would normally. It worked out pretty well, and I had about $50 leftover, which I donated to charity.

    • Melissa, I was at my local Canadian Tire just after Thanksgiving… they had moved the Halloween seasonal down a few aisles and had their Christmas Trees displayed right by the entrance. There was a huge inflatable Frankenstein overlooking the new tree displays; it was hysterical! Wish I’d taken a picture LOL! At the check-out cash-dude and I were laughing about it, and when my transaction was finished, he wished me a Merry Christmas LOL!!

  5. I really am annoyed as well that stores are exploiting Christmas earlier each year. We don’t decorate until the first weekend of December so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving first.

  6. I’m in Canada and I did see Christmas in Canada this year in early October. I went in to go buy Halloween candy and came out with a pack of Christmas cards! (there’s Costco for you).

    In terms of gifts because we’re at the age where the kids have started coming (and we all want to buy for the kids), among the adults we pull names so that each adult purchases for one other and we all get a gift. We also do a $10 Christmas game (this probably isn’t politically correct but I know it as a Chinese Gift Exchange and googling it I didn’t find any other names for it) and add a theme on it for fun, so one year the items have to be food related, or all the colour blue…this year they all have to be home made. I think this is a great way to keep the fun without breaking the bank.

  7. Lowe’s had their Christmas stuff out on October 15. 85 degrees outside and I’m walking past a bunch of inflatable snowmen and fake Christmas trees.

    I’m thinking I can really cut the budget this year if I make the kids pay for their own Christmas presents out of their allowance.

  8. FYI Macys has their Holliday stuff out starting in Sept. I know because for many years I worked there.

    We make home made gifts for my husband’s coworkers, and all the therapists and teachers for my 2 autistic sons, about 60 people total. I make gourmet foods to give as gifts and they are a huge hit, but cost us about $75 for all 60 gifts with some things left over.

    Other than that I buy only for our 3 kids, and will spend less than $200 for all three total.

  9. As I noted on my reply to Melissa’s post, we in Canada are seeing Christmas stuff as early as mid-October. I used to work retail; our Christmas orders started arriving in July; way too early for my liking. My sister’s birthday’s Nov. 27; kind of an unwritten rule we don’t think about Christmas until after she blows out the candles on her birthday cake.

    My husband and I will spend about $300 on gifts for ourselves, or buy 1 family gift… or go away for a weekend. We don’t exchange gifts with my sister and Dad; we instead buy toys/food for my Dad’s church Christmas Drive. We buy gifts for my Mom and Step-Dad (about $150/each); we each get $50 from my Hubby’s parents; we buy them a gift that’s about the same in value. We tell my BIL every year not to buy us a bottle of booze (we seldom drink), but he never listens… we usually re-gift it to our condo’s maintenance guy.

    All in all, I’d say we spend about $700 max; and we’ve got the money set aside in the budget.

  10. The dollar store in my town had Xmas decoration up back in October, and Halloween stuff was still up. As for a budget for gifts I don’t buy stuff for my siblings. For my parents I try to keep the gifts under $50. I guess I’m lucky since I don’t really have to buy for anyone. Less stress.

  11. Instead buying each other gifts, DH and I together purchase one thing that costs a little bit that we both have been wanting for awhile. Like a new mattress, or small flat-screen for the bedroom, rock-climbing class for 2, ipod dock, etc. This year it’s between a fake Christmas tree (our current one looks like Charlie Brown’s) and an ipod dock.

    • Oh yeah, we spend about $400 total, including parents, in-laws, nieces (not siblings), and ourselves. Sometimes it’s obviously higher if we travel to a family member’s house. It comes out of extra money we make – this year it’s from money made coaching football.

  12. I very rarely go shopping (other than for groceries!), so I haven’t noticed the christmas stuff out yet.

    As for gift budgets, my family doesn’t really do gifts anymore. My siblings and I decided three or four years ago (when the youngest of us was about 22) to stop buying each other gifts for birthdays and christmas. We go in together to buy our parents presents (pitching in of order $75 each), and I’ll buy and/or make something for my 2 year old niece, but that’s it. We take a really nice family camping trip to Florida in December that our parents pay for, which is their christmas gift to us. Being together and having fun is how we prefer to spend the money!

  13. Hmm. Now that you mention it, I think I’ve only stepped into a proper store once since Halloween, and I didn’t really venture outside of the produce aisle, so I don’t recall seeing any Christmas decorations/sales/etc. Perhaps I just do a good job of ignoring it.

    Having grown up in a predominately Mormon area of the state, this is also first year that I’ve had a significant number of Jewish friends, so Hanukkah has also been taking up residence in my mind. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

    I’m not worrying myself with holidays too terribly much anyway. I’m finally getting my wisdom teeth out, so I probably won’t be able to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast. Christmas celebrations will likely be small as well, on account of the miserable economy.

  14. We agreed to drop about $30-40 per person in my family (4 people). In my wife’s family (8 adults, 2 spouses, 1 serious girl friend, 6 kids), we change the rules. We buy individual gift for the kids (clothes usually) and “family” gifts for the adults. We usually spend $100-$200 on each other, but as for our daughter (turns two on 12/22), we currently have no plan…… which could be tragic.

  15. Me and my fiance decided no gifts this year. And not in a “this is test, you better actually buy me something” kind of way. We’re both financially able/debt free to get stuff we want. I wanted to get him the new iPhone (he still has a 3g, poor guy) but he has the means to buy it if he really wants to upgrade. Same with me, he was going to buy me a massage/spa package, but heck I can just buy it myself.

    Me and my closest gal pals (we’re a group of 7) also agreed that we won’t be buying each other presents this year, so we can focus on the children! Christmas is for the kids right?!? I think I can manage if my gal pal doesn’t buy me pajamas this year ;P

    We decided we would just do a nice girl’s brunch together.

  16. I do believe that Nordstroms makes their employees come in and decorate on Thanksgiving so that it’s ready for the day after…which sucks worse then decorating beforehand IMO.

    Plus….this can’t be from this year…the 27th is a Sunday and the sign says Friday.

  17. I used to work in a Hallmark store and they “premiere” their Christmas ornaments in July. I used to hear A LOT of complaints about that. One lady was really worked up about how I, single handedly, was ruining Christmas for her and everyone else who came in the store. I told her I understood, and was sorry but that the collectors start looking forward to the ornaments in March(!) when the catalog for the next season came out. She stopped dead in her tracks and said, “That’s right! I need the storybook ornament!” She actually bought two of the very ornaments she came in ranting about. Ay yi yi.

    I am single with no kids of my own and I spend about $500 a year on Christmas for about 20 gifts for friends and family, plus a little something for coworkers and a couple of toys to donate to Toys for Tots. My tree, cards, and postage also come out of the fund which I save throughout the year through the Christmas Club at my credit union. None of my gifts are super-extravegant and range from $10-$35 per peron, with a bit more for my two closest family members. I wait for sales so I can get the most bang for my buck. I also make a lot of my gifts–this years I am making ornaments for my coworkers and spend only about $13 on materials to make 16 ornaments which was much less expensive and way more personal than the small office gifts I have purchased in the past.

  18. Well firstly NInja you are WRONG. Christmas is in the Summer 😛

    We only buy for kids in our family. I budget $150 each for my 3 kids and $20 each for my 3 nephews. I prefer to spend the time with family rather than worry about presents and they can buy the things they want anyway. I also HATE shopping and crowds. We are doing a secret Santa at DH’s family dinner so 4 presents under $10 each for that.

    I am also a mean Mum because I won’t let the kids watch Christmas movies or sing Christmas songs until December. That way they stay a novelty and I don’t want to scream after hearing Rudolph for the millionth time. We also don’t put our decorations up till after my sons birthday which is the 2nd December so that his birthday is not overshadowed by Christmas.

  19. We spend around $2500 a year, usually. We have 7 kids in our household (my best friends took me and my boys in after I had to leave an abusive marriage) and 3 adults. We generally go crazy with the gifts, because we just love seeing the look on this kids faces on Christmas morning. This year, we have less money to spend, so we sat the kids down and told them that we were implementing a new tradition. We are going by an old Victorian saying for our gift giving for the kids and each other “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read”. They were surprisingly good with that and are having TONS of fun making their list up. So we expect to spend about $1500 this year. We buy something for our parents (there are 4 sets of them between the 3 of us), something for Nana, and my step-sister who comes over. These are usually in the form of gift cards. Then of course, we buy for each other. We also have an exchange at our family Christmas. The adults do a $5 gift exchange, and each parent buys their own kids a gift, about $10, that is from “Santa”.

    I loathe Christmas shopping, so we usually have most of it done by December 1st. This year, not so much. I agree, Christmas just seems to be coming earlier this year. I love what Nordstrom’s is doing…excellent.

  20. Funny I heard my first Christmas song of the year literally minutes after reading this yesterday:). When I saw trees and gift baskets at Costco before Halloween I was a bit shocked. We plan to put our holiday decOrations up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Although my twins’ birthday is 12/24 and they would love to have lights and our tree up today!
    Biggest budget killer is flights for 4 to WA:(

  21. I feel like a tightwad reading all these comments. I don’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore but I will send my mom some flowers for her table centerpiece like always. I sound like Scrooge but I think that this is one holiday that has outlived its purpose, if it ever really had one. Aside from being an excuse to spend money I don’t really have, what other purpose does it serve if I’m not even remotely religious? The stores are full of cheap crap and disposable junk which pisses me off. I spend on birthdays and anniversaries but there’s something about this holiday called Christmas which makes me want to rebel and hurl at the same time.

    • I agree with you. I wish we could all agree not to buy gifts. Families should just focus on spending quality time together – eating, drinking, playing games, talking, singing. Anything! I was so excited last year to get gifts for the kids on my in-laws side. The gifts were from Santa. What a downer it was to see the behavior of the cousin next to me. She was mopey from the moment gifts were being passed out, opening her presents, putting them down unhappily, and at the end she said “Is that it?”. I almost asked her for our gift back. That is what Christmas has become for kids. I vote for a no gift christmas!

  22. We have a pretty big family. I have 5; no sibling in laws, he has 9 including a sibling-in-law and 4 nieces. Then you have us and our two kids (16 and almost 2). We try to stay under $1K for family and then spend outside of that for us. We are doing gift cards/cash for the siblings, and actual gifts for the parents and kids. It’s harder as the kids get older, and we want to spend our money on things that will actually use. (We’ve wasted a ton of money on crap that is collecting dust). They will soon be venturing into the gift card category. Our anniversary is also in December but those gifts are separate.

  23. Immediate family – $25.00 ea. Close friends – $20.00 ea. Co-workers – $10 ea Teachers – $10 ea ( I would love to do more but we have 10 teachers/therapists) and for hubby and the kids…I have no limit but usually don’t go over $50 ea.

  24. Our budget is 1,200 also – for 3 kids and about 8 family or couple gifts for our parents and siblings families (food/wine or games etc). This year we’re also budgeting 1,000 for travel.

    We live in Africa so Christmas is really downplayed – virtually no decorations, those we have come out early December. With the exception of the grand hotel in town – they have elaborate lights and decorations, so we go on December 23rd to see the decorations and have tea.

    We haven’t been in the US for Christmas for about 10 years and DON’T miss it!

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