Christmas on a budget

‘Tis the season of giving, so it’s challenging when you don’t have much to give. But it’s still possible to have a beautiful Christmas and enjoy the holiday season without over-spending. In this post I’m going to share how my partner and I are doing it all for around $400.

We set a spending limit on gifts and we are sticking to it. No exceptions. We are only buying presents for our families and each other, so everyone knows our tight financial situation. Our gift budget is $50 for one another, and $15 for each family member, so for us that equals: $260

Decorations & Crafts
We already owned some decorations: string lights, a mini-tree, a few figurines and ornaments. I wanted our first Christmas as a married couple to be memorable, so I decided to get crafty. We went to Michael’s one day (we love their coupon program) and got a few wooden ornaments, tissue paper and one small bottle of acrylic paint. We also collected some pine cones from the forest, dried them out, and painted them white. Now we have some hand-painted ornaments for the tree, and lovely cardboard and tissue paper poinsettias. Grand total: $15

Christmas cards
Like most people, we have family and close friends living all over the country, and it’s so nice to receive friendly mail these days. However, since we’ve sent out a lot of mail this year with the wedding invitations and thank you cards, we pared down our list to the most important people to keep postage costs down, and bought our cards on a -50% sale! Total cost: $20

Food & Drink
You simply cannot celebrate the holidays without the special extras at mealtimes. Those once-a-year treats are meant to be enjoyed! Keep costs down by baking from scratch, having pot lucks, and resist too many impulse purchases at the grocery store- know when enough is enough!
We are having a small Christmas dinner this year, just one other couple joining us at our place, and we’ll be sharing the food costs. We won’t compromise our values in this area to cut costs however, as we’ll be buying a local, free-range chicken to roast and buying produce from the Farmer’s Market. Add in some BC wine, and we’ll have a delicious, 100-mile dinner worth celebrating! Our portion of this will likely cost us: $40

Entertainment & Activities
On Christmas Day we plan to go snow-shoeing up Mt. Seymour in North Vancouver. Luckily, snowshoe rentals are only $15 per person! Other special activities over the holidays will likely include one big-screen movie (The Hobbit, I hope!) and outdoor skating. Our budget for holiday activities is: $60

This brings our total Christmas costs to $395. Of course, some of this is money we would normally be spending on food or going out anyway, so we didn’t need to save extra. We all know that the spirit of the holidays isn’t consumerism, and yet it’s all too easy in our society to lose sight of that fact. So I’m actually glad that our necessary budget constraints are forcing us to be a little more creative with our gift-giving and making us enjoy the simple things that don’t cost a lot but mean so much.

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”
(The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

Please share your thoughts and advice on this subject!


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