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A Very Frugal and Transitional Christmas

December 12th, 2011 at 05:10 am

Well, I am just about done with my Christmas shopping. I think this is a transition year in how much I normally spend on my kids and how much they are used to receiving. They are getting older, 17, 20 and 26. Two of them have jobs and pay for a lot of items they already want or need, like clothes, vehicle costs, etc. And, my oldest lives on his own with his fiance.

So with that said, I am having some anxiety because it has been hard to figure out what to buy my kids, but I also have been a little cash strapped.

In the past years, I usually go off their list and buy items I definitely know they need or want and it totals a hefty sum. For instance, 2010 - spent $1,872.52, 2009 - spent $1,325.87 and 2008 - spent $1,533.86. Those amounts include all extended family presents, parties, baking items, wrapping paper, bags and such, but still seems quite high.

This year, I have totally recycled more. I have been using up items in my home, instead of going out and buying gifts. For example, I made some hard candy in cinnamon and wintergreen because I had most all the supplies around the house and then packaged them in extra jelly jars that I don't use for my Christmas Party gifts with the Bunco girls.



I have also used items for my kids that I never used and picked up along the way for cheap or free. They are brand new items that have been stored in my closet. For instance, a beautiful photo album in a brown suede box and a picture box for my daughter in law for scrapbooking, and a brand new 6-pack cooler and outdoor travel umbrella for my oldest son. His SUV has a tailgating table in the back and I thought he could use the umbrella and cooler with it.

I did purchase all of my kids one or two really nice gifts like a digital camera and boots for my daughter and hockey equipment (skates, gloves and stick) for my youngest, along with getting my oldest and his fiance a waffle maker and a brita for their sink faucet and some groupons to eat out. They are all getting bags of books (which I either got for great prices at used book stores or library and church sales. And for my husband, he is getting a pair of jeans, sweatshirt and candy (he is a dark chocolate candy lover). I pretty much had a rebate, coupon or found coupon codes for everything I bought this year.

So, overall this Christmas, I have only spent $545.08. I do have a couple more items to get for extended family, but I am feeling like it is not enough for my kids. Has anyone else had transition years where purchasing for their older teens and adult children become less. I just don't want this year to be the year of disappointment. The year where they remember they didn't get as much or what they want. It is causing my a lot of anxiety, but I think it needs to be done.

Well, Merry Christmas everyone. I am also looking forward to a prosperous New Year and have a plan in place. It just needs to be tweaked a bit.

6 Responses to “A Very Frugal and Transitional Christmas”

  1. laura(momcents) Says:


    Love that you shared how you slashed your expenses almost in half!! I, too, am being much more diligent on what I'm buying. I'm still spending on things that my children want (I really only buy them what they NEED during the years), but I'm rolling it over with other things. At Victoria's Secret, buy the PJs, get the slippers free. At Aeropostale, I used 40% off and got three really cute long-sleeved T's for another daughter and spent only $23.50. Bingo again at Bath and Body Works which happens to carry the PINK brand AND I was able to use coupons galore. Anything that I overpurchased, I "sold" to my brother or mother who are always stumped for gifts for the older kids. All in all, gift giving has been fun and I've put nothing on the credit cards. Smile
    BTW, great gifts for the kids!

  2. EarlyRetirementJoy Says:

    Campfrugal - we have two DDs that are transitional this year at 26 and 29 because both just obtained their first post-college, full time w/benefits jobs this year. So even though they are a tad older than your children, this is the first year where we are cutting way back on the gift giving.

    Both DDs live in small spaces, so we are primarily giving gift cards to stores they really like (Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Banana Republic respectively) so they can decide what to purchase, hopefully at post-Christmas sales. Although I know they will be very pleased to have "free" money to go shopping with, it means there will be very few wrapped presents under the tree this year, which is a definite shift for all of us, but one I am sure they will quickly get over. We're shifting the primary focus of the day over to the meal, and a variety of competitive card games everyone loves to play.

    I also stopped doing stockings for my DDs this year, because both now have significant others. Since everyone is coming to our house for Christmas, I either had to do stockings for everyone, including significant others, or stop altogether. I chose to stop altogether, and I will admit that I did not enjoy having to tell my DDs, but both rose to the occasion and agreed that it was time they took this on instead.

    I agree that getting through the transitional year is a bit sticky, but I'm planning to shower them with food and fun instead, so I expect it to be a non-issue going forward. :-)

  3. Campfrugal Says:

    I too stopped the stockings this year. I was just struggling with what to put in them. And, I have to confess, sometimes the stockings cost more than the gifts. I had them out and I was gonna go stocking stuffer shopping and changed my mind. So I taped the small items that I already purchased to the front of their gifts, or in my daughter's case, put her small items in a gift bag, like a regular gift.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm 39 and my parents still give stockings to the 6 of us! It's our favorite part. We are doing a white elephant exchange too since my BIL is out of work right now.

    You are doing great!!

  5. EarlyRetirementJoy Says:

    creditcardfree - Oh no, don't say that just when I was getting over the guilt! :-)

    But honestly, similar to Campfrugal, my DD's stockings were running high, about $75 each in our case, so it really was time for us to pass the baton if we wanted to continue on our road of early retirement.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    I think it's completely fine and they'll remember this holiday just as fondly as the others, for the togetherness and the thoughtfulness of those gifts you've so smartly assembled! Honestly, I may remember big gifts more than others, but I don't remember which years I got them, and I always love whatever my parents get me. It's the festive feeling more than what you actually get or give that makes the season bright!

    One year we were in pretty bad shape financially, so we kept food jars, scrubbed them out and took the labels off, and filled them with homemade bath salt mixtures, spice blends, homemade candied ginger, etc. We used materials we had lying around to make monogrammed hankies, sachets and other little tchotchkes.

    It may not have been what our families were wanting or expecting, but I comfort myself that surely they saw we were trying and had put some care and effort into giving them gifts. Whether they knew we were giving handmade items because we were broke didn't really matter to me. Our families are good people, so I'm sure they were as touched as I'd be if I got a homemade gift from one of them.

    I have tried to give my parents smaller wish lists but they always complain and I give them more ideas. But if they were trying to cut back, they could take my hint and purchase off my smaller initial wish list and I wouldn't feel bad at all. I mean really, they're my folks; I don't care if they get me anything at all after all the many many things (tangible and intangible) they've given me over the years.

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