Decorations, cards, postage, gifts for each other: $80
This includes anything for the house, holiday cards and postage, and what's left over gets divvyed up between the two of us for presents. I've already spent $56.61, so I'll probably hold off on any other decorations until the sales after the holidays. That leaves us only $23.29 for presents for each other. Looks like we'll end up over budget, but not by much.
I was planning on using any holiday card I have around, but I found a good compromise using a VistaPrint deal for free postcards. I paid shipping and adding color to the back side of the card. The service was pretty easy to use, although the quality isn't the greatest. They were super cheap, though, and I'd hate to kill more trees by sending them back to be reprinted. I'll send longer letters to a couple of family members. I probably wouldn't have done cards last year, but I got a holiday bonus, so I had a little extra money. It was mid-December, so we sent cards with a happy new year message, which we're doing again this year, which has the added benefit of giving me more time to address the cards.
- $26.60 stamps (book of 20 regular rate, 3 books of 20 postcard rate, $1 shipping)
- $14.10 holiday postcards (100)
I've bought a few ornaments, but I really don't need much. Last year I spent $11.08 to make a nice wreath for the front door. We'll reuse that, and probably get real garland for the top of the entertainment center again. The cats destroyed the inexpensive tree skirt I bought last year, so I'm not sure what to do about that, I'll probably make something. I also like to fill various vases and hurricane lamps with inexpensive ornaments and LED tea light. We keep it pretty simple.
- $5.12 ornaments and small present at Pottery Barn -- used a $50 gift card, and all items were free shipping. I linked through Upromise, so I'll earn a bit of extra money. We like to have a wide variety of ornaments that don't all match, so I get a few nice ones each year.
I recently used a couple of credits to order prints from Kodak Gallery to send to friends and various holiday projects. I got about $45 worth of pictures for just over @$10.
- $4.86 Kodak Gallery shipping to use $20 bonus credit for photos for family members
- $6.03 Kodak Gallery shipping, used $15 credit to order prints and a photo ornament. I used Ebates, but stupid me, clicked though on the rebate, not the reduced shipping plus rebate. Could have spent even less!
We don't have a lot of holiday expenses for hostess gifts or children's parties. Usually, if we're invited to a party where I feel obligated to bring a hostess gift, we pick up an inexpensive bottle of wine and this comes out of the regular food/beverage budget. We do the same with any meals we make for guests around the holidays. When we hosted a big holiday dinner for our parents last year, my mom bought the prime rib, so everything else was very doable in terms of budget. A potluck holiday dinner could save even more.
- Pare down the holiday card -- don't do photo cards, or if you do, look for good deals on prints. Unless you get fancy with the cards, postage will most likely be your biggest expense, so start early when looking at your mailing list so you are prepared. Order stamps from USPS -- pay only $1 over the face value of stamps to save a trip to the post office and make sure that you get the fun holiday stamps you want (many post offices will run out). Spending a dollar to save a last-minute trip to the post office during the holidays is a deal indeed.
- Start with a special and basic ornament collection, add a few each year. You can always say you're going for simple elegance.
- Don't buy a big tree, or get a real one. It's easier to decorate (and store) a smaller tree, and artificial trees have improved drastically in the past few years and can be reused.
- Start stockpiling pantry items like cream soups, sugar, flour -- any non-perishable food and baking supplies that you tend to use every year. If you're keeping a grocery book (link), make a list of items you know you'll need and the prices you want to pay, and keep that in your wallet so you can instantly spot check a good deal.
2009 Christmas Budget Series