Several years ago I wrote a post about our Christmas budget – see here – and mentioned that someday I’d try rewriting the portion that Blogger ate. Today’s the day!

As newly-married college students, one of our first budgeting decisions was how much to allocate to Christmas. Wayne had the brilliant idea to come up with a system that would meet our wants and needs at the time, and yet also grow with us. We weren’t planning on staying poor college students forever! So, that first year we came up with $100, with the idea that the budget for our 2nd Christmas would be $200, then $300 for the third, and so forth.

Here’s the only picture from our first Christmas. I don’t remember what was inside the packages, but I do remember that the tree cost $5 and was decorated with homemade (meaning free) ornaments. I also remember that we really enjoyed the challenge of making the money stretch as far as possible. I love a good puzzle.
As the children arrived, we allocated $10 per number of Christmas for each one. For example, their first Christmas (the year they were a baby, or “zero”) had a $10 budget. Their second Christmas (the year they were one) was $20. It might have been easier to remember the formula if when they were 8 years old their budget was $80, and not $90, but no one complained about having to do a bit of thinking. (We also used the same budgeting system for their birthday, and that matched – 8 years old equaled an $80 birthday gift budget.)
These are family history blog posts, so here’s the breakdown for our 5th Christmas, when Weston was 3 and David was 2. That meant our budget was $570 – $500 for us, $40 for Weston and $30 for David. For some people that might seem like a lot, for others it might seem like too little, but for us it turned out to be just right. Our $500 was spent on a new suit for Wayne ($100), fixing the VCR ($100), something set aside for a future vacation ($100), contacts for Becky ($50), wrapping supplies and stocking stuffers ($50), with the remaining $100 spent on gifts for parents and siblings. The boys received model airplanes (which they worked on with Dad), toy cars, homemade “pound puppies” (a $5 pattern and scrap fabric), puzzles and games, with a new car booster seat for Weston being the “big ticket” item at $15.
You can already see one adjustment; at first the money for the kids came out of “our” budget, but by this year it was in addition to it. Later adjustments included “family” and “friends” and “decorations” getting their own budget category. There also came a point when we capped the amount for each child, and for ourselves as well. It didn’t seem right to spend $2000 on our 20th Christmas just because that’s what the formula said, so we didn’t.

Other adjustments came as our children got married and grandchildren entered the picture. In fact, it’s still a work in progress. The important thing to remember is to just have a budget – plan in advance what you’re going to spend, and then stick to your plan. Have fun making memories that will last forever.