How to Budget for Christmas
saving money

How to Budget for Christmas

The holidays are meant to be spent with family and the ones you love. Not stressing out about how much you’ve spent on gifts for them. I am all too guilty of overspending during the holidays. If you’re like me, you need an easier way to stay on budget for Christmas.

This budgeting process is like magic. It’s quick AND it’s easy. While list-making and budgeting aren’t revolutionary processes, they will make your life simpler and stress-free. Plus, you’ll feel rewarded when you see your account balance and how much money you saved. That’s exactly why I love this budgeting system for the holidays. 

By following this process, you’ll walk away with:
– confidence in your budgeting ability
– less stress and anxiety of “doing it all” this holiday season
– freedom from paying outrageous credit card bills
– money left in your wallet because you took the time to do this for yourself

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

There are 4 steps in how to budget for Christmas:

  1. Review the calendar
    1. Parties, annual events, holiday traditions
  2. Make a list
  3. Create a budget 
    1. Total budget
    2. Budget per person
  4. Follow through with the budget

If I was adding a fifth step, it would be to enjoy this Christmas season. It’s a month (Thanksgiving to New Years) of showing how much you care for the people around you.

How to budget for Christmas

Step #1 – Review the Calendar

Grab your wall calendar, your planner, or open your Google calendar because you’re about to get organized.

Make a list of all the events you would like to attend this year. This should include office parties, school events and plays, special Christmas events (like The Nutcracker), any family traditions (lights, hot cocoa fests, etc), and family celebrations (make sure to include Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!). 

Put those events on your chosen calendar. I find that plotting events on the big family calendar in our kitchen and in my planner works best for us. You might be a lover of the online calendar and that works, too. It is whatever helps you to remember everything. 

And if you’re looking to get yourself a little something for Christmas… I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Happy Planner!

Step #1 – check!

Step #2 – Make a List

Be like Santa – make a list and check it twice. Be nice this year and ensure you have everything on it (you’re nice every year, but let’s face it – it’d be twice as nice to stick to a budget!). 

We’ll call this your masterlist. What’s on the masterlist?

  • Events in date order
  • Food and various party items you need to bring to each event (plates, cups, etc)
  • Gifts or hostess gifts for each event
  • People you would like to give gifts to
  • Gifts for those people you’ve listed
  • Any decor you want to add to your home (lights, trees, ornaments, etc)

Deep breaths. This is supposed to be less stressful than last year, right? Right. That’s why I’ve made a template for all of your list items to go on. Best part? It’s FREE.

Get it here >>>


Step #3 – Create a Budget for Christmas

This step is broken into two sections:

  1. Total Budget
  2. Budget per Person/Event

Total Budget

Your total budget is really just that – a total budget. You encompass everything Holiday related into the total budget. Heck, you can even include Thanksgiving! 

Set a realistic budget. This budget needs to be large enough to include everything you need to purchase, but also not too big. We don’t want to go into debt.

Budget per Person/Event

In the printable planner I linked above, there is space to write out your budget for each person (gifts specifically) and each event. For each event, you need to include: food, gifts, decorations, and miscellaneous items. Miscellaneous items, for example, would be ballet tickets, food pantry donations, Santa pictures, and other items like that. Most of those expenses are scheduled during events. 

Step #4 – Follow Through with Your Budget

Keep track of your spending this year by using a budgeting app (we use Mint) or by updating your list. It is also useful to keep an envelope for your shopping receipts. This is helpful for tracking expenses as well as handling returns!

It is so incredibly tempting to buy amazing last minute gifts and experiences for your family. I get it – I’m the same way with my son. But resist the temptation. If you’re already at your max total budget then save the idea for their next birthday or even next Christmas. It might be worth the wait.

Remember to make like Santa and check your list twice. Stay on budget. And have an amazing holiday season. It’s not the money you spend that will be remembered – it’s the time that you spend with your family that will.

How to Budget for Christmas  - Don't end up on the naughty list

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