I love the holidays and love having family come home and spend it with us. I usually spend more money on food and celebrating, but it is worth every penny to me. Our family is what we care about the most. One thing I do each year is to plan out a budget. This helps me figure out how much to set aside, so I can enjoy the holidays as I want to. I try to be a little more liberal in my estimates so I have some cushion room. Many times the whole family will go out to eat as a birthday celebration, since we have two birthdays around Thanksgiving. This is an example of what I do:
Meal - $50
Birthday Gift for Daniel - $50
Birthday Gift for Nicole - $50
Birthday Celebration - $50
Extra food for the week - $100
Treats for friends in town - $75
Christmas Tree - $5 (this is for a tag to cut one down)
Christmas Gifts - $75 per person over 12 years old x 10 people or $750
Christmas Gift - $50 per child x 1 or $50
Entertainment - $50 (any shows we want to see, etc.)
Christmas Eve Meal - $25
Christmas Dinner - $25
Stockings - $50
Extended Family Gifts - $50
You get the idea. I figure out what my Christmas budget is in total and then I divide it depending on who is coming for Christmas and what we will do when they are here. If we have a lean year, the numbers are smaller. If I have a lot of extra money saved from the areas of my stewardship in our budget, then we may have more to spend. I adjust and then do my best to make it the nicest Christmas or Thanksgiving I can on the budget I have. I keep in the amount I have budgeted. If I want to spend more in one area, I just reduce another area.
There are years when I have spent $200 and years when I have spent almost $2,000. Last year, my husband made some money consulting and we went to California for Christmas. Instead of presents, we took the kids to Disneyland. This year, we are having to pay extra money for taxes. So, I will spend less than I had originally planned and we may make homemade bread for friends instead of treats with more costly ingredients. We will also spend less on gifts and maybe even just skip any entertainment that costs money. We will find things that are free and go to those instead. Instead of buying a lamb roast for dinner, I will get an extra Turkey on sale at Thanksgiving time and cook that instead or we will have a meal that everyone enjoys that costs less. As kids grew older, we would have them each choose something they wanted to eat for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve and make it themselves or buy it from the store. This way everyone is happy because they have something they like, regardless of whatever else is on the table. My husband and I usually round out the meal with something healthy.
How do you plan for your Holidays?