Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I know that without planning it can be stressful. I am type-A and tend to over-plan, but I think sometimes that is an advantage! It takes away the stress of the holiday when you know you have enough time and money to do everything you want to do.
I start by making a list of all the events that will cost money during Christmas. Then, I work on what I am buying for myself and for others. Finally I add it all up and make adjustments if something doesn’t work in the budget.
Make a list of the events coming up and the costs that will be associated with them. For example, to see the nutcracker, are you going to wear new clothes? Are you going to order a drink? Will you have to pay for parking/uber? Find the true cost of the events and total it up.
Here is an example of how I would calculate an event:
Frankenmuth, MI day trip:
- Gas there and back: $25 (I used GasBuddy’s trip cost estimator)
- Parking: $0, there is plenty of free parking at Bronner’s and in downtown Frankenmuth
- Bronner’s: Estimated $50
- Lunch Estimated cost: $40 (Frankenmuth Brewing entrees are $12-15 each)
Total Estimated Cost: $115
To find all the events you need to attend, make a list or Google Calendar with all the events from your kid’s school, search on Facebook Events for fun things going on in your area, and look at last year’s calendar to see if there is an event you will be repeating. I also take a quick look at the major event arenas like Van Andel Arena, Civic Theater and DeVos Peformance Hall to see what they will be doing for Christmas shows.
Make a list of people you need to buy presents for, and set a budget for each person. It is nearly impossible for gift giving to be exactly fair, so I would put a little wiggle room in each person’s budget.
I like to do this in a Google Spreadsheet so I can share it with my husband and we can access it on our phones. We can put ideas for gifts next to each person and know where we are at with the budget at all times. We also keep the list from the previous year so we know if we went over or under budget on a person to decide what this year’s budget should be.
There are a lot of cute printables with gift budgeting on them, and if you want to write things down on paper that is a great idea! Otherwise, I just love the convenience of having it in the cloud.
You & Your Home
Make a list of things you want to buy for yourself or your home for the season. One thing we buy is new Christmas pajamas, so that needs to go on the Christmas budget. I include (most) of the Christmas décor in this budget, so if you need a new Christmas tree or something else, add it here.
I also include Christmas cards in this part of the budget. It’s important to me to send out Christmas cards to our friends and family because it brings me so much joy to receive other people’s Christmas cards.
Total it all up!
We save $100/month throughout the year so we have $1100-1200 in December (depending on how you count December’s savings towards this year or the next). This gives us a nice buffer for presents and events so we can really enjoy the time together.