Friday, December 4, 2009

Extended Family Christmas Budget

I am a daughter of a divorced household, so we have two Christmases. My husband's parents are married, but both grandmothers are alive. Thus we have two sides of the family to work with there, too.

My Mother's Family


They usually want pictures of the kids for Christmas, and I like making food for them. One Christmas craft with stevia fudge will be going to everyone. I'm going to be making my mom some Ukranian egg ornaments and, if I have time, I'll make some for my aunts and Grammy. I'll be posting about these this coming week. I budgeted $20 to give my mom some fun jewelry and she will also get surplus stevia.


I have a young step-brother and step-sister, aged five and eight. I have budgeted $5 for each. He is getting a small toy car, and she is getting an ice cream sandwich maker. Both gifts will contribute to their ever growing car and kitchen collections.

My Father's Family


My Dad had more kids than my mom. My mom had me and my two brothers, who are twins. One brother is counted in my Mom's family, getting a Christmas craft and fudge, and the other doesn't celebrate Christmas. Then, from my Dad, I have my half brother and sister, each of whom will get a Christmas craft with fudge.

Dad and my step-mom will get a Christmas craft with fudge, my old bread maker and bulk yeast that I never got around to putting on ebay, and surplus stevia. I asked if they wanted the bread maker and surplus yeast for Christmas and they did. I might have gotten more than what I usually budget for them if I resold it, up to $40, but I'm glad to be giving it to someone who can use it.


I was thinking of making a cheesecake for my step-sister. I did cheesecakes for everyone a few years ago and she ate the one I gave to her family real fast. She's 13 and doesn't eat much, so she needs it. I found a Wham-o ball for my eight-year-old nephew and a Baby Einstein toy for my three-month-old niece. They each had a $5 budget, too.

My Husband's Family

They used to have a gift swap where everyone drew a name and gave a gift of about $10. Dan's uncle has been under-employed for several years now and has two kids in college, so that has stopped. They still buy for our kids, which I would rather they didn't, but I guess it makes them happy to buy gifts for little kids. Just about everyone buys too much for our kids.

We exchange gifts with Dan's parents. We have an up to $40 budget for them, and it's Dan's job to decide what to do. I always have lots of suggestions for him, though, because I like to help. They will also be getting the Christmas craft and fudge.

Dan's maternal grandmother has Alzheimer's so we are giving her lots of pictures of us and the kids along with her Christmas craft with stevia fudge. Dan's paternal grandmother will also get a Christmas craft and some Turkish egg ornaments if I have time to make extra.

Everyone in each branch of the family will also get wallet sized photos of the kids.

To sum up, we have a $20 budget for each of our parents, including step-parents. We have a $5 budget for the kids we buy for. Everyone else gets the same homemade gift.

The purchased gifts have been bought with swagbucks gift cards. Yes, swagbucks paid for Christmas. If you haven't signed up yet, you should. If you have, refer your friends. Referring is not only good for you, it is good for your friends, too. (For full disclosure, this post is full of Amazon referral links, but their primary purpose is to show what cool stuff I'm getting, not to sell you that stuff.) If I didn't have swagbucks, about half of this would have been saved for, and half would be purchased through mystery shopping.

So, I've gotten my family's shopping done, but I still have crafts and cooking and wrapping. I'll be writing a separate post about our immediate family's budget and what we'll be getting each other. That shopping I have not finished yet.

How much shopping have you gotten done?
How do you decide how much to spend on everyone?
Will this year be different than last?


Farwood said...

Emily I'm interested in learning how you make Turkish egg ornaments. I made some as a child at my grandparents one Easter with a tool that melted the wax over a candle flame. Sounds like you know an easier way!

I too am planning on doing some holiday baking. I have some pretty tins and baskets I picked up at the local thrift store and tissue paper saved from gifts given to us.

We were married this summer so the family will also be given pictures of the whole family. I am keeping my eye out for nice frames to put them in at the thrift store.

My husband will be getting some books I ordered used that he wanted. He will also be getting a little book or jar filled with all the reasons I love him and am so happy to be with him. He may also get some new clothing or a gift card to his favorite store.

My MIL will be getting a blanket I purchased years ago which I bought on a whim and was too pretty for me to use.

My SIL will get a gift basket of some sort- either a spa one with homemade bathsalts, bodyscrubs, and fuzzy socks; or a movie one with a few chick flicks, fuzzy socks, and popcorn. I did this for my MIL's birthday and she liked the basket I'd put together.

FIL will be getting some nice warm shirts.

My Mom will get her annual gift of nice warm clothing from the thrift store. She doesn't like clothes shopping so this helps her out!

My brother may be getting a new large crock pot. We bought one last year and the handle broke on it. When I called the manufacture they said they didn't have any replacement handles and sent out a whole new unit instead. We can live with out a handle on our crock pot so we are saving this as either a x-mas or wedding gift.

I haven't decided what to do for my Dad and BIL beyond the cookies.

We don't set a budget per person though we probably should...

This year will be about the same as last year.

Jennifer said...

My parents, MIL, and all the grandmothers will be getting a photo book of the girls. Each will have roughly cost $10 with coupon codes and free shipping.

The cousins of my girls are getting toys within a $5-10 limit.

No presents for our siblings, and they will buy none for us.

I, too, have used many swagbuck amazon cards to purchase presents with. I have about 92 referral friends and average about 40 swagbucks a day from that.

oceans5 said...

I usually don't set a strict budget. Especially not for my kids. I shop wisely for all of our families though. The kids I try to shop wisely for but Christmas at our house is a BIG deal. I love seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning. I have done about 60% of my kids shopping. I have kept all the receipts and I am already up to $300 spent. Yikes.(We have 3 kids.) I understand everyone has a different feeling about Christmas gifts but I just love to do it big. I do NOT spend more than we can afford though.

Some years it is less. 2 years ago I made my mom, aunt and grandma gift baskets which were a HUGE hit. I put stuff like jam, tea, hot cocoa mix,etc. in them and tied them up w/ cellophane. Very budget friendly. I try to keep my families gifts at $20 or less each. Then hubby and I just kinda do our own thing. I don't even budget for him because I never know what I am gonna get him until the last moment. The reason this year is costing so much is because BOTH of my girls wanted to start their Barbie collection SO bad. Have you priced Barbies lately? LOL. Insanely high.

I really like your ideas. I love making stuff for gifts. This year I am crocheting both my girls a blanket for their dolls and my son one for his favorite stuffed animal.:)

Jenny said...

What about your own children? Do you get gifts for them or do they get enough from other friends/family?

Emily said...

Jenny, as I said in the post, I'll be writing a separate post about our immediate family's gift budget. We get small gifts for our children, but keep it small because they get so much from everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now I feel like a massive over spender. I love love love giving gifts. Believe it or not, more than receiving them.

For our siblings (1 each), my husband and I usually budget $100, our parents and any other family guests we may be seeing at Christmas (we live in a different country than all our family, so aside from immediate members, the rest get gifts when we see them), the budget is $50.

Friends would be between $20-$30, but same rule applies as extended family guests. Colleagues, etc. would be about $15.

We usually don't buy for each other... our major purchases through the year (this year 2 cars, new house, and new laptop) count as Christmas gifts to one another. On the other hand, birthdays we always do, anniversaries we'll take a vacation (this May being our 1st), and Valentines is usually a dinner out.

We are obviously not very frugal, although we are very smart and thorough with out purchasing and background information search (re: getting the best value for our money).

Tammy said...

I make apple pies in foil pans and freeze them before baking. (A local orchard near us has what they call "horse apples" for $5 per bushel, and actually they are big, perfect great apples! I think they are just wind-falls. If you can get over the fact that you're buying "horse apples" for Christmas pies, you can really get an awesome deal!) Everyone gets a frozen homemade pie with instructions for baking (unwrap and put in 400 degree oven about an hour). Also, a nice homemade card with photos of our children, and some special soap that I make too. A lot of the relatives tell me they look forward to these certain gifts and not to change anything!

Tammy said...

Hey I forgot--I would love to see that recipe for stevia fudge!!

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

My family is getting containers that I've picked up at yard sales, etc., for them. Cookie jars or tins that I thought they would like, mostly. Each will be filled with that person's favorite treat. M&M cookies for my brother, coffee cake for my youngest sister, mint brownies for the other sister, etc.

Treva said...

I have purchased everything except some stocking candy for DD. She is pretty easy to buy for at age 5; I just checked out the clearance aisle of WM every time I was there since July and slowly built up a supply of things I know she will love. We limit gifts to 3 plus a stocking, so that makes it quite easy. I bought 1 of her gifts with a mypoints GC. (Total $40)

I have not purchased anything for my DH, but I know he needs some winter gloves and a scarf (I don't knit or crochet, so will be buying those) and he's always up for something guitar related. Also, he loves chocolate, but b/c he recently went on cholesterol meds I've really cut back his sweet foods, so I will buy him 3 or 4 large dark chocolate bars since those are his favorite.

My parents are at that stage where they don't want or need much. Their big gift is traveling 750 miles to spend Christmas with us in our new home. My mom loves homemade cookies and we have recipes that have been passed down from my great great grandmother, so I make a LOT of cookies in December -- usually around a dozen to 15 types of cookies, bars, and fudge. (I'm hoping to expand to candy making in the coming year.) I bought a $3 brag book from Walmart this summer and I'm going to print out pics of my daughter that have all been taken since we moved. And I did buy my mom a couple of chocolate oranges when I found them on sale one day a couple months ago. I will need to buy my dad a box of cordial cherries. He's diabetic so a small box will last him through March or April; he'll eat one every few days and that's it. ($10 on storebought stuff, plus homemade cookies and use of my printer)

My husband's extended family will be getting gift baskets of homemade goodies and spice mixes that I'm fond of. There are 4-5 people in each household, so it's a lot easier to make 3 gift baskets than come up with a gift for each family member. The 3 younger children will all get something though -- books. ($20 for each basket, $10 for the books)

This is definitely an inexpensive Christmas for us. We had a big Christmas last year and the year before, but we have chosen to cut back since I'm not working and we want to see if we can keep me down to a part-time job in the future, so I can be home more.

Snork Maiden said...

The link you provided is for Ukrainian eggs, not Turkish, I am not sure there IS a such thing as Turkish eggs. The eggs you pointed to are a Ukrainian Easter eggs.
Also, you don't have a Christmas tree, but give out Ukrainian Easter eggs? Their history would probably make your husband hiccup for a week straight. :D

Emily said...

Thanks Snork Maiden, I changed it to Ukranian. Yes, the eggs are really for Easter, but I thought they would be so pretty as tree ornaments. I'm not sure my husband understands what I am doing with the eggs I am hollowing, as he lets me take care of my family's gifts...

Clisby said...

We are not all that frugal, but the only people we buy gifts for are our children and one young nephew (we married late in life, so most of the younger generation in the family is grown). My mother has laid down the law that she doesn't want gifts except for family/kid pictures. She's 81, and the last thing she needs is more stuff. My husband and I might buy each other a token gift like a CD, but neither of us will be hurt if that doesn't happen. My siblings and I stopped giving each other gifts years ago - we all have too much already, and it wasn't any fun. Of course, it would have been fun if someone had given us a cabin in the NC mountains, but I'm not holding my breath. I think those of you who are giving homemade treats are on the right track. Back when my siblings and I exchanged gifts, my favorites were food - a nice bottle of wine, a jar of homemade pickles, etc. I could enjoy it and then it was gone - not taking up space. We'll spend maybe $400 in all. (When our children were as young as Emily's, it would have been WAY less.)

Anonymous said...

We stopped exchanging gifts with our siblings and their families several years ago. Instead, we all take the money we would have spent on gifts and do something charitable with it. It has made Christmas so much nicer.

dust in the wind said...

I love you "no stress" approach. You have a good plan and are comfortable with it which goes a long way in giving yourself a nicer Christmas, too! This is something I am trying to learn and get better at. Being the youngest couple (by far) of both our families it can get overwhelming when I feel like we need to "keep up" with everyone else. My husband is still in school, like yours, we are expecting our third in the spring, and money is tight. But we love to give gifts so this year I am not comparing, only giving what I can in the nicest way I can. It make Christmas so much more enjoyable! Thanks for all the posts.


amulbunny said...

Since my kids are adults, they get one big gift each and the usual assortment of sox and pajamas still. My husband and I tell each other what we'd really like, and since our anniversary is the 21st of December, we count it as a double gift. I get my mom something special and my dad gets an audio book. We don't see his family so we don't do anything for them. When they lived here we did the bring a 15$ gift and we pulled names and had a blind game of exchange.

One year when things were really tight, we made candles with a lost wax and sand method and made planter/candles for the relatives. They were really nice.

I hope you can get a little tree.

Rachel said...

Emily, I try to keep it at $20 per person. I feel you can give someone a nice gift for that price. Since I now have 5 small grandchildren, i look for deals all year. i have found some nice dolls for my grandaughter at Goodwill. When Walgreen puts their toys and art supplies on clearance, these are great buys! I try also to really listen to people and buy something that they think is special.

One of the neatest things I have ever heard is from my friend Missy. They always gave their kids three gifts for Christmas. She said that she figured if three gifts were enough for the Baby Jesus, it was enough for them!

Roxanna said...

I usually pick things up through out the year for people. I don't ever really have a budget I just buy what I think they would like :)

Anonymous said...

Love your blog a lot, but it's kind of misnamed. With the mystery shopping, ad revenue and swag bucks, you are not living on less than 1000.00 per month. That money counts, too, as you are using it at various time as part of your budget.
No offense. I just think it's kind of misleading.

Emily said...

Anon, we are still living on less that $1000 per month. Extra money goes into savings. Our expenses are under $1000.

slugmama said...

I use to buy throughout the yr and tuck back for xmas. But my kids are teens now so that doesn't work. They now get neccesities in their stockings(socks, toiletries, etc.)and money or gift cards. I don't buy 'stuff' anymore so they get money and they can be the ones responsible for buying the I usually sew or crochet them something personal(pj pants, boxers, vests, blankets, etc.)as I have those skills.
Hubby and I exchange small gifts. He's a bibliophile and chess player so he enjoys an amazon gift card & a gift cert. to a nice restaurant. I usually get something I've been wanting, like a pricey kitchen tool or new slippers. This year I am asking for a
We also do a Secret Santa for the immediate family. Each person draws a name and buys 1 gift & there is a limit on price. Each kid must spend their own money on this gift, hubby & 1 don't bankroll that.

The only other family are our siblings & 1 nephew. For the Sibs, it's either baked goods or foods I put up(jelly,relish,tomatoes), or gift baskets of food &/or toiletries that they can use/like. I coupon so most of the things I put in the baskets were free or very inexpensive. The nephew gets a gift card and something personal too(handmade). Except for the nephew, I try to gift consumables to family and not 'stuff'.

All totaled, I budget/spend about $400 on gifts(the bulk of it goes to the 3 teens)& that doesn't include the Secret Santa.

This year, I am giving the 4 kids(mine+nephew)each $25 in addition to their usual gifts. This money is to 'invest' into microlending site. It's a project of mine, to try to foster an entreprenuerial and giving spirit in them. Some of them are way too self-centered(they ARE TEENS!lol)and I want to get them thinking about others more and giving back to those who don't have the privileges that they do.
Next year, I am going to go to a "only buy gifts for those you see during the holidays" gifting plan. If they don't live here, they get a card and photos only. Gifts are meant to be personal and shipping something off across the country is NOT very personal. If I can't hand the gift to the recipient, it's not happening.

heather said...

i'm a total over spender for christmas as well. i love to give and really don't ever have much of a christmas list myself. we really have a small family-my parents, grandparents, us. my husband is estranged from his family. so that makes the money stretch further.

growing up as an only child i probably was spoiled. i remember and love the magic of the season and waking up to the mass mountain of gifts. so i do the same for my girls. i only have 2 kids, and would love to have more but i know i can't afford to have more and be able to do all of the things i want for them. my motto is that they are only children once for a limited time...then it's the real world for the rest of their lives.

also after being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, i learned how short life can really be. so instead of getting caught up in things like responsibility and frugality i'm more about living life to the fullest now. that's a change for me!

honestly, i have no idea what i spend on gifts. i have no budget. i just love to give and i have literally spent every last dime doing it. but...i do draw the line at credit cards. my gifts are bought with cash only.

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