Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas debt

The money treeI heard the other morning that Americans spent, on average, $600 this year on Christmas gifts. Apparently, this is down from $800 in previous years. I don't know about you, but I was absolutely amazed that people spent that much on Christmas gifts!

No wonder we have a credit problem in this country. Unless these people are saving up all year for buying gifts or spreading it out, which is probably true for a percentage of Americans, they are really taking a hit at the end of the year.

I don't think I spent more than $200 mostly because the majority of the gifts I gave were made from scratch. The ones that I spent money straight out-of-pocket were toys for the kids and gift certificates for nieces/nephews out-of-state.

Did you end up spending more or less than you were expecting on Christmas gifts? Or, maybe the question should be, did you end up spending more or less than you wanted? How does it compare to the national average?

66 comments:

camelama said...

I spent $40.00, spread over three people. That was supplies for two handmade gifts, and one book bought online with a discount and free shipping. This is down from previous years, as I'm unemployed currently and look to be so for a long time. No debt - I made $45.00 selling a bag I'd made the week before from found material!

Latigo Liz said...

Definitely spent less this year than any year previous. Went home-made or gave the gift of “time.” The hubby being a WaMu casualty wasn’t good. And he’s not having much luck finding anything new yet. We’ll be OK, eventually, but we paid down debt and are cutting back most near everything frivolous/unnecessary.

Angel said...

We spent less. Everything was handmade, upcycled or free w/coupons. In total, we spent just over $200 ($120 on shipping) on 9 adults, 3 kids, 4 dogs and 3 cats in 5 states. I started collecting in June. It was the first frugal Christmas I've ever done and by far, the most successful. I can't imagine spending $600!

Milk Donor Mama said...

I spent $50 on DH, $10 on catnip and whatnot for my two cats for the year, about $50 on my DD, and about $50 on postage, and probably another $25 on baking supplies and cookie tins. For the grandparents, aunts/uncles and 7 teachers, I made giftbags from my CVS/Walgreens stockpiles and they also got framed photos / dvds / photo books that were pretty much free thanks again to CVS and other free photo deals. DH spent about $50 on me.

statia said...

I spent twice that, and maybe a little more. But I also have a lot of people to buy for. I also save up cash for the holiday spending. I never put it on a card. I stick to my limit.

I'm not rich or anything, by any means, I just save my pennies because I actually love to buy gifts and I don't really do it during the year. Commercialism? Perhaps, but Christmas is just one of those things that I love doing, and I'd like to think I did my part in helping stimulate this crappy economy.

knittinandnoodlin said...

I spent $600 (most of which was for two spendy electronic items for the munchkins) and was really proud of myself...that is half of what I spent last year. I paid cash...I never quite got the whole going into debt to give gifts. The grownups are all getting homemade cookies once a month all year.

I think if I hadn't moved two weeks before Christmas I would have ended up spending more, though...purchasing yarn to knit things for everyone.

ceruleanscars said...

This year, I felt like Scrooge. We didn't do cards or make anything or attend any parties (or host any parties). Still, I spent about $120 on books for my nephews.

Where my husband is concerned...well, we broke all records. We wrapped up our anniversary, Christmas, our birthdays and every minor holiday into a 12-day vacation. We've paid in cash. It's decadent, and I'm still gulping at the amount of money (and waste) expended.

Yet. In 10 years of marriage, we never took a trip for just us. We are both having a blast, and we're reconnecting much more than we did after his last leave. (He's deployed to Iraq.) So, it's money well invested.

emergingcrone said...

We spent less than that, but more than last year. We tend to give one another things we would buy anyway - but don't because we are frugal. But we combine that frugality with a joyful tradition.

I love the ritual of wrapping and guessing and wondering and being surprised - even when I knew what was in the package at one time - but later forgot.

So yes - there were socks and underwear under the tree - but the socks were the cool kind my son loves for XC and the underwear is the kind he wears on his winter runs. Along with some books and guitar strings - a balance between wants and needs.

Something we were very conscious of this year was trying to be sure that when we spent cash - that most of it fed a local business in our community. Small businesses are hurting from everyone cutting back and these are my friends and neighbors.

For my friends, I gave the gift of time. I spent a lovely evening giving cooking lessons. That was one of the highlights of the season - Hestia at someone else's heart(h).

badhuman said...

We spent about $200 including shipping a couple care packages to friends and family. This is about what I spent every year, we didn't make any gifts this year but I'm already planning on what we will do for next year so I can start sewing!

Jen R. (aaron-n-jen.com) said...

Did you actually keep track of everything you spent? Or do you just not have many people to buy for?

We spent a little under $800 this year. We saved up all year to do it and not a single thing went on credit (I'm actually a little annoyed that the first thing to jump into someone's mind is that people must be going into debt to spend that kind of money). We don't have much money - we're a one income family (low income at that), but it was important to me this year to really pay attention to what people wanted for Christmas and I shopped all year off and on (sales and such) for really cool gifts.

I set a budget. $50 each for my husband, me, and my two kids (4 for $200), $100 for Santa, $50 for the family, $20 for each of my cousins (5 for $100), $40 for each of our parents (4 for $160), $30 for each of our siblings (5 for $150).

I bought one Wii game for my husband ($50), a few toys for my kids (wooden blocks, playdoh, pogo stick, shovel, sandbox toys, teaset, a car for each (tradition), and a few other things ($200), I bought fabric to make things for my mom and sister ($40), Jenga/Hi Ho Cherry-O/Pocahontas for the family ($50), a gift certificate for my brother ($30), $30 for my sister's boyfriend, a present for my dad ($40), a wine basket for my mother-in-law ($40), a wireless mouse for my brother-in-law ($30), a toolbox for my sister-in-law ($15), a gift certificate to a restaurant for my father-in-law ($40), cash for my other brother-in-law ($30), and various toys for my five cousins ($100). My husband spent $50 on me.

None of these gifts were extravagant, although we did spend a little more on our kids (mainly because I'm going to be homeschooling them and I needed some of the "toys" we bought them for some educational lessons, so might as well get them for them at Christmas). We spent probably twice as much last year, so this was drastically less than normal. We also didn't buy for as many people as we did last year.

We did really good and I'm proud of us.

Anonymous said...

We spent way less than the Nat'l average. But did spend $200. Mostly on stuff we knew would be needed not just wants. Like the AAA basic membership for our new driver in the house..one tow would have cost more than the membership. Stuff for college classes she would need to fork out on. We gave cash to nephew and made stuff for everyone else from supplies at home we already had. So it breaks down to 10 people
$200 not bad. But thats still more than we normally would spend. Usually we keep it UNDER $100-either from thruft stores, e-bay or craigslist the things we know people are looking for or want. Hubby and I forgo gifts for one another.

Figuring that our situation w/unemployment may not turn around soon we are already working on craft stuff for family for next Christmas. We're in the plannng stages. I know we would certainly like to get it well under $100 for Christmas 2009.

Ijust don't understand how folks can go and spend $600 or more for one day when there are 364 other days we can be doing something for each other.

Segwyne said...

We spent less than the average, but more than I hoped to. We spent about $400 on 5 kids and 3 adults. I spent $60 on yarn to hand knit presents for everyone, and then each child got socks and underwear, a cocoa mug with some cocoa and a candy cane, a book, one toy/tool depending on age, some hair doodads, tights (4 kids are girls), and a movie. DH got a book from the kids and me, and he got me a watch and a new purse (mine was falling apart). I feel pretty good about how much we spent, but next year I want to spread it out more over the year.

Green Bean said...

I spent a hundred more than you. Most of our gifts for the kids were second hand, many of them free, or homemade. The big money was on a gift certificate for a slide to digital photo service for my parents, professional photos of the kids for relatives and yarn used to make scarves.

Anonymous said...

Every year I vow to spend less, but somehow we must have spent around $800. I did not, and would not, go into debt for it though. We save what we can all year.

I have 15 nieces and nephews to buy for, and I mailed two parcels to Europe which cost me $45 each for the shipping. That really hurts, but it costs about the same as me buying the very same items for them over the internet in their country - with the exchange rate the way it is there is no way around that. At any rate it costs less than visiting them!

My kids get a bigger item bought for them and I fill their stocking. The rest of the year I really don't buy them anything, though they do get allowance.

Then grandparents give the kids a good cash gift so I have to reciprocate unless I'm destitute. My husband only asked for wine and sherry, which he has not bought for months for himself as we've been cost-cutting. I got socks, and a flight bought on airmiles, which is what I asked for. Usually the only items we seem to be able to save money on is our gifts for each other.

Everything we spend effectively goes to our kids because they get whatever we give back in equivalents from relatives. It is a good time for them.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

We did homemade Christmas this year and it was great! Spent about $100 for supplies and did gifts for 20 people. I love sewing so it was fun and our little guy learned a great lesson

steplikeagiant said...

I made all my cards from junk mail and this and thats I collect over the year. I spent $50 on my husband - a wool sweater and stocking stuff (chocolate, olives, special foods that we never buy during the year). I gave my dad $100 and a $25 fleece hat that sent him over the moon. I gave my best friend's son $50 for his college account. Two cans of dog food for the pups who usually eat dry. I gave hugs to everyone else.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I spent more than I'd intended. This is because of somthing I'm struggling with as a parent: I have one child (6 y.o.) who is very "boy" and does not take care of his own belongings, nor that of others. I don't think it's fair to expect his siblings to suffer because of things HE broke. I had to spend some extra money to replace some items. Yes, I know I should take the money out of his bank to pay for it, but his only "bank" is a 529 for college. And he only gets $6/month allowance. Sorry for the long rant but I'm at a loss of what else to do right now, other than just watch him as close as possible and keep saying "NO, NO, NO!!!" I know, they are hard lessons to be learned. I'm learning too.

Elise said...

$150 spread over 14 people. I'm still a college student, so I don't have to buy for any kids, just parents, siblings, and friends. I made gifts for most of my friends. And I bought my sister a vintage sewing box (she's on a vintage kick lately). I had already given my dad a handknit gift for his birthday two weeks ago, and my mother and sister are getting handmade gifts for their birthdays (both within the next week).

However, I have a feeling my parents exceeded $600 this Christmas. I received a sewing machine, which was new and probably expensive. However, it will last me forever and can be used on many greener things in the future.

Heather @ SGF said...

We spent about $450, but then we have 25 nieces and nephews, most of which we send money for the holidays. Next year, I'm planning on crocheting some of the kids scarves instead of sending money since it will help to cut back on expenses, but I'm going to have to start in January if I want to get them all done :)

We did local gifts for parents this year, so we spent some dough, but it all went right back into our local economy.

Everyone else just got all those cookies I made in December (30 dozen). Those cost a little, but it also gave me an opportunity to visit loved ones and share a little of the holiday spirit.

Jan said...

We didn't spend this year because we didn't have the $$ but when we do buy gifts its expensive because we have six families (our kids and spouses) with 12 grandkids. That's a minimum of 24 gifts!

TurtleSoup said...

Well, I spent more than I ever have. I spent $300 on my 4 children. THis was the first year I felt like I had the money. In previous years, their gifts have been handmedowns, gifts from others. I enjoyed having the cash to spend for them, but my husband and I decided that we preferred the Christmas mornings of previous years. A good lesson learned, but no regrets, either. My husband bought an ipod earlier in the year and insisted it count for Christmas and his birthday. I realized there wasn't anything I wanted or needed. So, the children made service coupons for us. I did handmade gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and teachers. Even had them all ready by Thanksgiving gathering, so I didn't have to ship anything. GET THIS THOUGH!!! My 1st grader's class had a gift exchange to 'teach the child about giving'. They were asked to write down 3 things they WANTED and then we parents had to buy a TEN DOLLAR gift for the name they drew and that person's three gifts. I called the teacher and explained how inappropriate this was given the current economy and how it did NOT teach giving. I said I'd love to give $10 towards the class putting something together for needy children, or another charity. I told her not to include my son, but he came home with a name anyway and I succumbed. That was the most painful $10 I spent. It was so WRONG. My son didn't even know if the person we gave to liked the gift we picked out. All he was concerned about was the star wars book and pokemon he got. Do you think I should mention this to the principal???????

aelfie said...

I spent about $600. And I am proud of myself about it. That $600.00 was spread over 22 adults and my three kids (upon which, I admit, half was spent, handmade Waldorf dolls aren't cheap), and included several donations in the name of someone. I also spent about $150.00 in Disney Points off my Disney Credit Card on 13 other kids.

For that many people, I think I did a damn good job.

However, I had saved over the year for that money. And worked an extra day at work this month to make up a shortfall. It all got charged to my cards (I want the points), but the cash is sitting in my savings account ready to pay it off at the end of the month.

Sharlene said...

I think we spent about $350. Way less than before. My kids are only two so I just rewrapped gifts given to them for birthdays. That certainly saved some money!

fhe said...

Did you know we spent $16 billion on Christmas decorations in 2006? I don't have recent numbers but the figure was growing 10% year over year.

Compare that to all foreign aid, which stood at $19 billion. That does not include military "aid."

$1.2 billion goes to real christmas trees and another $0.6 billion for real plastic ones.

ruchi aka arduous said...

I spent about $200 on 11 people which is the least I've ever managed to spend. But it helps that I'm in school, and everyone knows that so they all were okay with not-so-extravagant presents this year. Also it helps that all my friends and family like reading because I bought almost everyone books!

TheNormalMiddle said...

We bought a Wii this year so that was a big hit to the budget, but it was the only gift our 3 kids received. We did not exchange gifts with anyone in the family except one small toy for my new niece. So in all, I think we spent about $350 on Christmas. All paid for in cold hard CASH. We no longer have debt of any kind and will not go into debt to buy gifts. Period.

Marcie said...

I dont' think I've spent that much in the last 10 yrs on C-mas gifts. Consumerism is a HUGE problem in this country. I think its the root of many of our issues.

Maggii said...

We spent considerably more than the 'average"....we have 4 grown children....and a lot of extended family we buy for....we did pay cash for all we bought though....

Robj98168 said...

I spend less and less every year- learning to make gifts is a definite advantage, And like Santy Claus I start about in January. I, like you cannot believe that folks spend that much either. Of course the cost of Wii's don't help and I am lucky I don't have to buy them!

Kelsie said...

I spent approximately $60, if not less, on gifts for 5 people. The best part is that most of what I gave would have cost much more had I not hand-made it. The other best part is that almost all of them support sustainable living for people who never really put much thought into sustainability. The one concession I made was a video game for my partner, as there wasn't anything I could make him that we didn't already have! For my mom, I made a set of 8 dinner napkins (mushrooms, jello molds, chickens, and retro flatware) as well as a set of washable flannel makeup removal pads. For my dad, I took a black and white portrait of his beloved cat and printed it at a photo kiosk. I found a simple frame for a buck, and my dad loved it. I also made him a healing salve with plantain, calendula, yarrow, lady's mantle, self-heal, comfrey, and lavender from my garden, infused in safflower oil and blended with beeswax. My brother got a throw pillow for his new apartment, and my grandma got a hip-granny shopping bag to use instead of ugly plastic. I was so glad at the reception of these gifts, as well as how great and stress-free it was making and giving these gifts. Even if I end up fabulously rich in the future, I will continue giving hand-made. I only wish I could knit a videogame!!

Village Green said...

I've always wondered at the compulsion to buy a whole bunch of gifts at the same time to give to a whole bunch of people. I like the idea of having a fun time at the darkest part of the year, but why that has to involve so much expense and effort is beyond me. Of course, I'm not religious so that may be part of it. On the other hand, I like to give gifts to the people I care about, so what I do is when I find something that is just the gift for a special person, I give it regardless of the day or time of the year. Kind of like merry unbirthday presents. Anyway, it is heartening to see that so many here scaled back and did handmade gifts.

Melinda said...

We spent about $200 as well, which is probably half of what we spent last year or the year before. I have a huge family, and there is certainly pressure to buy gifts for all of them. No amount of pleading for drawing names (or other solutions) has worked. So this year, most of our gifts were gifts of food - homemade and/or locally-sourced. And a Chinook Book (local eco-coupon book).

Next year I'd like to spend less, and focus on giving experiences rather than things.

Christy said...

I spent about $200 on gifts for the whole family, mostly handmade, except for hubby and a few things for the boy. Hubby however, went overboard. He got me a .22 rifle and the boy a new monitor for his computer. Putting us around $600 for our family total. Sigh.

ZombieKitteh said...

Wow...I spent 3 bi-weekly paychecks. 3 X 450.00. I wish I could have got away with $40 or so. But I had to buy for the parents, cynthia (best friend) and Andy (hubby). Andy alone was over 300. But He spent more than 250ish on me. I got a sewing machine though...so more will be homemade in the coming months.

I feel like a failure.

Allie said...

I spent more than I wanted, because I wanted to spend $0 (I don't celebrate Christmas, but sometimes feel obligated to do gifts for certain people). My total expense was about $40 or so. I believe I spent about twice what I normally do.

My ~$40 was spread out over 6 people. ~$15 for some replacement dishes for my mother on eBay, ~$15 on jams, chocolates and coffees for my boyfriend's grandmother/new-husband and another ~$10 on the ingredients to make food gifts for his parents too.

kimberly said...

i opted out of christmas this year. didn't step into a single store/mall... i got my boyfriend a futon off freecycle (spent money on the gas only), sent out cards to about 6 people and bought flowers and chocolates for the people i visited. i think i spent less than $40 in total... not bad. it was pretty awesome not dealing with the mayhem this year.

Knit2dye4 said...

We spent about $1000, but we have a large extended family that we have a gift exchange with every year, in addition to our own 4 children, and several of the gifts we bought were useful, such as knitting supplies or leatherworking tools (those were expensive, by the way). The big, useless splurge was the $150 we spent on a Nintendo DS and a game for it, for my 13 year old son who has been begging for one for two years now. We also included in our total $300 we gave to a family that we are very close friends with that were otherwise going to have no Christmas for 5 children. This was a financial stretch for us, but we felt it was worth it. We definitely spent more than we planned, and we did put it on a card, but only to make it easy to keep track of how much we actually spent.

Correne said...

Well, I live in Canada, and our dollars don't buy as much stuff as yours do (it's not just the exchange. Things are truly more expensive here.) I spend about $1200 every year on Christmas, and I don't feel remotely guilty about it. I always have a budget that I stick to fairly closely.

About $800 or so is gifts for 4 kids and 9 adults. More of it goes to the kids than to the adults. I also make a substantial donation to the Christmas Bureau or Salvation Army, I try to help out my sister with a few gifts for her kids, and I usually end up spending extra on groceries (wine, alcohol, chocolates, turkey, nuts, and special fixings all add up.)

Erika said...

We spent around $400 for 12 adults and 13 kids. We, too, set limits on how much we were going to spend, down to a written breakdown, and we stuck to it. Commercialism, yes. Would we like to get the things we got for folks even if there weren't any "holidays," yes. Many of the gifts were handmade, many were antiques/collectibles, and a few were new. I'd like to start now for next year and make (I knit, sew, and quilt) gifts for next year.

--Erika

Laura said...

$44 for two people. That was spent on dinner out, including tip, on christmas night at an awesome chinese food place with a bunch of friends.

I have opted out of the christmas beast entirely and am so much happier for it. No stress. No money wasted. It is a wonderful gift I have given myself and the earth. :D

Joyce said...

We save up all year, so we don't charge anything. We spent $600, our budgeted amount. It's a large family, and our young adult children actually need things, so I thought it was reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I went over budget and spent $800 for Christmas total (three kids). Gifts were something small for DH and I (20 apiece), small things for family and the bulk for kids. I shopped sales and online bargains and started in September. We paid cash that we had saved for.

Anonymous said...

We spent more than that... quite a lot more... but I don't feel bad about that... We didn't go into debt, and didn't buy things just to have something to wrap up... We "bought" beehives and rabbits through Oxfam, donated money to the local homeless shelter, bought my FIL parts for his car, paid for an airline ticket for my MIL to visit her 90+ year old dad, sweaters for both of us, a jacket for my husband, wool pants for me... (and other stuff).

But I feel good about our Christmas purchases... we bought things with less packaging, bought gifts that will reduce future waste (a metal container for carry out for my SIL, battery chargers... for example) supported companies that have sustainable business practices, and local independent women owned stores...

Kathy "Peak Shrink" McMahon said...

I didn't really spend a dime, to be truthful. We had a "potlach" in my town, and all the presents I gave, came from there (I brought things to give away, as well). Made Holiday cookies at a friends, but she didn't want me to bring any fixin's. We decided that it is just a waste to send out cards, and we just couldn't bring ourselves to kill a tree for three weeks.

They said it was the worst Xmas shopping in 40 years. I guess I contributed to that....

Abbie said...

We spent a lot less this year than in previous years. However, we're all adults, no children in either of our families, so there wasn't a lot of "spoiling" going on from us. My husband and I just do stockings and give gifts like socks, underwear, shampoo, etc. Just stuff we need. I don't exchange with my brothers, since we decided we shouldn't waste our money and time. We try to give homemade gifts and thoughful gifts instead of money. I gave my mom an IOU for a shopping trip (window shopping) and lunch at a nearby casino. The time will be so much more meaningful than the money involved.

mudnessa said...

I didn't spend much on actual gifts, but I have some making up to do, promised my husband some shoes. I did spend more than usual because I hosted Christmas day for my family and bought all sorts of food and goodies to munch on through out the day. That was a gift in itself but I think it was a lot less than years past even including that.

Caitlin said...

We spent about $400 on 35 people. Luckily one side of the family does secret santa or we would have had 50 people to buy for! A large portion of the $400 went to our two secret santa people (since everyone on that side of the family only gets one gift we allow ourselves to go a little overboard.)

Lots of cookies were made, lots of used books were given, and I even sewed something that didnt fall apart (a true christmas miracle!)

Rosa said...

We spent about $400, I think, maybe $450 including mailing costs, and another $40 on gas for traveling - that's seven immediate family members, three extended-family members (they rotate names, so we went to a party with like 50 people at it and bought gifts for three), hostess gifts, plus food gifts for a bunch of friends and gift certificates/small gifts for another few. Oh, and $100 on cedar/pine garland for the house, from the greenie hippie garden store where it's made from Christmas tree trimmings by local people.

But I went cheap on the butter for the toffee I made, and I wish I had gotten the grass-fed stuff. I don't know why I had that fit of cheapness - i think the mandatory Christmas spending makes me feel poor, and panicked. It would have tripled the cost per batch, up to $4 from $2, but the total extra cost would only have been about $10.

But I had the biggest fight I think I've ever had with my partner. He thinks its *insane* to think that there are any circumstances under which he would not buy a gift for his mother (such as, if we went to the name-drawing method for immediate family, along with the larger family) and *nobody* would ever be OK with that and she would go to her grave thinking I hated her guts if I took her saying "that's a good idea" as meaning anything other than "I guess you hate my guts but I am not going along with your ridiculous plan anyway."

The worst part of that fight is that I DIDN'T GET MY MOM A GIFT THIS YEAR so apparently I am a cold, unfeeling, unnatural child. I am still so angry about this it
s insane, and we are never going to be child- and family-free for long enough to even talk about it.

joan said...

We spent about $325. We have four kids and four nieces and nephews. The eight kids-ages 6 to 17- agreed to buy a llama through Heifer instead of having their usual gift exchange, so $80 went to our share of that purchase. The adults on both sides of the family stopped exchanging gifts several years ago. Ideally we would have spent a little less, but we didn't break the bank, and the kids didn't get nearly as much "junk" as in the past-a couple of gifts each, and stuff they really liked and will use. So overall I'm happy with how it went. I'd say it's about the same amount as last year.
I'd like to get it below $250 next year. This will mean planning ahead, not a strength for me or the hubby,but we'll try.

Donna said...

We spent $325 this year on gifts for 9 adults and 4 children. It's more than I would have liked, but about the same as last year. I make a lot of food gifts, but I try to use really good ingredients and they are expensive, too.

Stephany said...

I think that total I spent more than that despite making many handmade gifts.
Materials still cost money and we have a lot of family to buy for. On the other hand, I don't ever use credit cards and I spread the spending out over the year. I am at peace with it. We don't shop much during the year.

Stacy said...

We spent about $3000.00. I know that is a lot but half of it was for a very nice lap top for our Son. We paid cash for everything. We did not buy for extended Family at all. We look at the lap top as an investment for when he goes to College.

I was actually glad we did not exchange with extended Family as it is more stress than it is worth and we end up with a bunch of stuff we don't need or want.

I plan to hit the stores tomorrow for some deal and stimulate the economy some more. ALL CASH.

knutty knitter said...

Wish I had 600 to spend on anything! I think I spent about 10 dollars on everyone combined. Probably another 10 dollars on one child, the other got a hand down. Hubby spent around 5o dollars on everyone and the kids about 20 each. Thats 9 adults and 2 kids. Most of my stuff was hand made from scraps which helps substantially.

The kids did get some really good presents but nothing too extravagant. Most expensive was a trip to the ballet and a plane ride (neither of them have ever been in a plane before.)

Dinner costs were shared by all and made by all too.

viv in nz

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I spent about $800 over 2 months and all was paid in cash. I was shocked at the amount when I totaled it up BUT that did include significant cash gifts for my brother (who recently lost his job) and my daughter's babysitters. We ended up buying/making gifts for 20 people (more than our usual amount) so I don't feel TOO badly about the amount.

Billie said...

Lets see:

100$ for my husband.
100$ for me
200$ for 2 kids
30$ from the kids to us
130$ for 10 other relatives + 61$ to ship it all home

18$ for two friends of mine
xx$ - whatever Eduardo spent on his friend

Only the 200$ for the kids was from our joint account with the rest coming from our personal allowances. We spent at least 650$ spread out over 17 people. Many gifts were handmade and one gift came from the thrift store. This is about what we spent last year.

This is what we felt we could afford and we stuck to our budget. I felt like it was a very reasonable budget. It gave us a great Christmas morning but wasn't totally extravagant. What more could you ask for? We were all happy with what we got and I feel blessed that we could give each other our wishes.

Tara said...

We spent less than previous years, but not by much and still a bit more than I would have liked (we give gifts to 15 adults and one child). We did a lot of homemade gifts this year, and while we felt really good about it, I don't feel like it helped us much financially. After buying supplies to make all the stuff we made, we spent just about as much as if we had bought finished goods. I certainly don't regret that, though. I loved giving the homemade gifts, and I'd do it again.

Sweetpeas said...

I can't say how much I spent, I buy gifts throughout the year when I find things on sale or through co-ops, etc. I can say we spent less than $600, probably somewhere between $100 & $200, and certainly didn't go into debt to do it. But actually based on alot of the people I know, I'd have guessed the average was higher than $600 or $800, it seems like alot of people I know spend well over $100 for each child plus numerous gifts for other friends & families.

Robbie @ Going Green Mama said...

All told, I think I shelled out $90. In that, there were two bookcases for my kids (one dollhouse one we got in box, that retails for $199(!?!)), a few photos for a handmade album of photos of my husband and the kids (supplies were given to me by my mom), and a new book for my husband. I also made a photo album for my inlaws, which I got free with shipping. My parents got the gift of a reorganized scrapbook/computer room. We also bought a small package of photos of the family that we shared with our loved ones. It was inexpensive, but everything was carefully considered.

Anonymous said...

I cannot say how much I spent. What we do is set aside aside $50 a month ($600 yr.) for gifts. We buy gifts all throughout the year. And this is not just for Christmas...this is for ALL gifts; birthdays, anniversary, wedding, baby showers, etc.

We still usually end up with money left over as I'm very frugal and also make a lot of things!

Jen said...

I'm really annoyed with the idea that spending $600 must be a decadent, consumerist Christmas. Are you kidding me? We were quite frugal and still barely kept it under our usual $800. I think people who spend much less must be skimping on gifts (come on, people, it's about GIVING!) We save money each month all year for Christmas, nothing goes on credit. We have an explicit budget and we don't go over it:

parents: 30 (homemade stuff does cost money for materials..)
in-laws - 30
niece and nephew - 25 each
3 sisters and brothers - 40 each
neighbor kid - 20
hubby - 100
me - 100
mailman - 10
5 teachers - 50
our son - 200
stockings for everyone present at xmas morning (6 people) 190

Total: 795

That doesn't include the money we used from our own "allowances" that is basically mad money, and I spent about 75 from that, and that included taking some out-of-town visitors out to lunch, an expense I considered a holiday expense, and chocolates for stockings. I assume my hubby spent about as much.

We bought from thrift stores, handmade items like cloth napkins, bought gifts from eco-friendly companies (lots of people got stuff from Lush.com this year), and got things that we would otherwise have bought anyway, like collapsible shopping bags, clothes, cooking items, and sewing supplies. There were no impulse buys or cheap plastic crap. And all of the budgets included shipping to respective places, including overseas.

And 200 may seem like a lot for our son, but a $60 toy treehouse made of all wood, a $40 remote control car, and some legos ate up most of it.. does that seem extravagant? It doesn't seem like much to me.

Not only that, but I spent an additional 35 on reusable bags and boxes on sale after Christmas so we could avoid the whole wrapping paper issue.

So altogether at least 980 was spent from our household including all holiday-related expenses. This DOESN"T even include the extra money on groceries and sundries to have out-of-town visitors.

It seems totally reasonable to me. :)

Anonymous said...

My BF and I spent more this year, but had more to spend than in recent years. In the past we spent maybe a couple hundred dollars on 8-9 people. This doesn't count what we spend on gifts for ourselves. We do try to give things we need in addition to personal gifts so it evens out. This year we spent around $300.00 on about 8 people, but that's still not bad. We did spend around 7 times that on ourselves but they weren't bad purchases. He got a tune for his car (it will help him save more gas, and we already get at least 30 mpg). Then there was the TV, but we bought it on sale and needed a new one. The only other pricey gift was the PS3, but with gift cards (earned from credit cards that are paid off every month) and after X-Mas sales we saved almost $200.00 off retail price. And it has the added bonus of allowing him to play online with his brothers who are in different states.

Mazzajo said...

It's quite fascinating reading how everyone feels the need to explain or justify what they consider reasonable spending whether it's a lot or a little:
...but that's for 13 people...
...but I handmake everything...
...but a lot was from the thrift store...
...but that was a combined birthday present...
...but that included a large electronic gadget...

I'm not intending to criticise, I am genuinely asking why it's so important to spend anything on giving gifts to adults who can afford to buy "stuff" for themselves. If Christmas is about GIVING then why don't we all spend that $600 or whatever on people who really need it?

I spent $39 on presents (for a child) and I gave $60 to a Christmas hamper charity. But now I'm thinking: why $60 and not $600?

Jen said...

You bring up some interesting points that I think everyone thinks about, but I disagree.

I think what you call "justifications" are actually wonderful things. If somebody is spending their gift money on stuff that will help the environment, reduce carbon footprints, and really have heart in it, that's better than just a spree at Wal-Mart.

I genuinely think it's a beautiful thing to really think about what someone else might want and give them something that shows you were thinking of them. I mean, don't you ever just think, "wow, Aunt May really loves yellow and her oven mitts are really worn out, but I know she'll never buy a new one for herself." If we all just gave money to people we don't know just because they're poor or something (and yes I donate, thank you), the people we do know would miss out on our thoughtfulness.

How would I spend $39 on 13 people? Especially when I know many of those people would spend that much or more on me, each, on gifts that they spent time picking out hoping I would really cherish. That would be a slap in the face, really, saying I don't care enough to really think about them and their lives. I know they would understand if we had lost our job, but to skip giving gifts just for the sake of ... what? fear of consumerism? Sorry, I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

I spent between 2-300$, about average for me. The majority was spent on my significant other. I made homemade bread for 12 other people on my holiday list. The remaining money was spent on gifts for a few close friends (bottles of wine to go with the bread) and beer for the roommates.

Rosa said...

Mazzajo, I think most of us here are really conflicted. Even the handmade gifts, if they were made out of new materials (yarn, fabric, sugar, wood) have an environmental cost.

For me, personally, I feel like $600 is way too much, especially since (once again) I have not met my charitable giving goal for the year.

It's a HUGE source of conflict in our household - me, alone, I hit my 10% charitable giving goal, AND only spent about $100 on all the people I give gifts to. Add in my partner and his income and his family's expectations...as a family we only hit about 7% of our income as charitable giving, and spent $600 on Christmas. Almost all of it was obligatory giving, where we give stuff to ensure that people feel loved.

I would bet that the majority of Americans feel defensive about both their spending and their level of charitable work and giving, because most of us don't manage to live up to our own ideals - not just the "not as frugal as I wish I were" crowd, i hear a lot of "I would have gotten more for the grandkids but I just can't swing it this year."

Midnightsky Fibers said...

$600 doesn't seem that outrageous to me, I guess it depends on if it is just stuff that is "here today gone tomorrow" or actually useful. Maybe because we use holiday presents as a way to give stuff that people "need". ie I got a new camera (which I need for my business) and some new professional looking clothes, both things I would otherwise have to buy. Brother also got clothes, which he needs since he is growing.

Though I guess if my parents hadnt bought me a new-to-me (refurbished) flat screen TV the total may have been under $600. The TV was total excess and not something I asked for, but will be nice.

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