Author Topic: How did you go this Xmas?  (Read 2449 times)

happy

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How did you go this Xmas?
« on: December 27, 2012, 12:25:38 AM »
I died of shock when I added up what Xmas gift giving cost me, made worse by 3 birthdays around Xmas also requiring gifts.  I made suggestions about adults not giving gifts but these fell on deaf ears. We have a bit of a custom of circulating a xmas wishlist, which reduces but not eliminates completely unwanted/wasted gifts.

I tried some changes this year that seem to have worked out well.

Firstly I reduced the spend by 30%.... this seems to have been largely un-noticed...with all recipients seeming satisfied.

Secondly I canvassed heavily for money for the teenagers which was largely honoured.  This means they will spend it on stuff they really want, and won't hit me for. The teenagers were thrilled with this idea.

It felt slightly weird sitting around the tree:  other family members had big piles of "stuff", and we didn't. However there was lots of excitement etc and none else seemed to notice too much thankfully.

Added bonus - no stack of packaging plastic and cardboard to overload the garbage and recyling bin.



KGZotU

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 01:03:25 AM »
I did pretty well. I took everyone out to a movie today, at a cost of about $8 per. I gave my mom and her husband a couple of used books.

Asked for used books, movies, and CDs from my wishlist. Received a few books, a warm jacket which I'll give to the homeless center I worked with, and a basket of food with pretty decent stuff.

We're going to hit up Joanne's for some fabric to make into re-usable wrappings next year.

gooki

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 02:29:24 AM »
I'm exceedingly happy with our expenses and what I received (a few modest useful gifts).

Although I did go overboard on buying stuff for myself in the weeks before Christmas. Time to sell more shit.

Neighbor Don

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 09:20:19 AM »
I can't complain. We kept things simple. My family uses one-13 gallon trash bag on average per week. It's filled to the top and garbage pickup is tomorrow but we kept to using just the one bag which hasn't happened during prior xmas weeks. We recycle all cardboard that can't be re-used and only ended up throwing away wrapping paper and unrecycleable plastic. The one "big" gift that my child wanted was able to be purchased refurbished so that cut down the cost a bit.

Even with keeping things simple I feel like we were gifted more than we wanted so I've been feeling like getting rid of some existing items to at least even things out. Last night I gathered a pile of clothes I rarely wear anymore to donate. This weekend I will go through toys that are rarely if ever used as well as some items in the attic and donate those to some worthy organizations as well.

amyable

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 09:34:56 AM »
I think I ended up pretty well.  I baked a giant tray of cookies for everyone at work (about $20).  Made homemade chex mix and cookies for my family (about $20), and my husband and I bought each other kettle bells (mainly because we decided to end our ridiculously expensive CrossFit membership). 

Southern Stashian

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 09:59:15 AM »
We spent @ 35% less than last year with some deal shopping and bartering for gently used free goods in exchange for some computer and IT work. We scored a practically new bike with training wheels that was rode on once (still had the price tag on it) for our son (3), a $125 4' long music keyboard that was used twice for our daughter (8) and a 2012 Win 7 desktop computer with a bad stick of ram for our son (10), all free with some bartering of setting up a few personal routers, wireless printers and the networking of a few laptops.

I also bought a 120" projector and screen for less than $300 on Amazon and sold our 47" lcd (that a customer gave to me for free) for $400 on Craigslist, so I gained some money back there while enjoying a larger screen to play games on. We will be bartering even more for next years holiday season and hopefully will be spending close to $0 on the holidays in the future through the exchange of services for goods.
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mindaugas

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 10:00:17 AM »
My wife and I bought frames at a thrift store (50% off sale to boot) and printed out some pictures of family and gave those out. My side of the family likes to buy a couple things at the dollar store, wrap them up, and then make a big pile. We all grab a gift, unwrap, and then trade. Family members showered my 10 month old son in gifts so there wasn't much we needed to buy, although I did spend $50 at home depot building him a toy.

Bakari

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 01:11:27 PM »
In addition to the shoe/pedal system for my girlfriend's bicycle, the two of us treated ourselves by taking the portable heater out of the storage shed, and heating the room to 65 degrees for the day (we didn't leave the house all day)
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c

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2012, 08:05:45 PM »
I did really well. I'm very pleased with my spending and general holiday experience.  My husband always insists on spending a ton on crap so that "you have something to open". This year I got him to get the one thing I really wanted (a Hudson Bay throw) and only one "thing' to open which was bubble bath. I got him a Kindle (with my cc points).
 
I told my father to buy my niece something from us instead of buying for us and I always send a gift to friends in another country. I told my father and sisters that my gift to them was paying for this gift from all of us. I got all the kids $30 gift cards and the ones that live close to each other are all going out together to spend them, so I feel like I got them experiences too.

Overall I spent so much less, consumed so much less and the one place I spent the money was on people who needed it. I LOVE Christmas and it's become nothing but stress over the years, this year was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ones in ages (and like Bakari's, it was super warm).
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 08:07:25 PM by c »
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madgeylou

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 06:10:40 AM »
Overall I spent so much less, consumed so much less and the one place I spent the money was on people who needed it. I LOVE Christmas and it's become nothing but stress over the years, this year was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ones in ages (and like Bakari's, it was super warm).
[/quote]

nice! i felt pretty relaxed about christmas this year, too. i basically just let go of the expectation that i was going to be the one to make everyone's christmas nice. which is so silly, right? and was entirely something i'd put on myself.

i did a smaller budget this year and got smaller presents for everyone than i usually do. everybody still seemed pleased, maybe even more pleased because i put a lot of thought into each selection. most importantly, i did not feel stressed out about any of it. i made the decision not to, and i wasn't. it was great.

the funnest new tradition i did this year was to bake cookies. i got my dear grandma's recipe for sugar cookies and made them, and the nostalgia whenever i ate one just kind of bowled me over.
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directionseeker

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2012, 06:16:12 AM »
I didn't spend anything this christmas. My mum spent her christmas at church and received a small pack of fruit and food from the celebration. I checked out a book(A Random Walk Down Wall Street) from local library and spent my christmas reading that book.

Overall as a family we didn't spent anything and received a small pack of food. I think we done pretty well this christmas.
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Heather

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2012, 06:26:47 AM »
Most of our family adults decided to give each other edible things this year.   As a result, I had the most fun Christmas shopping ever. 
One trip to Loblaws, and one trip to the wine store, and I was ready to give everyone something they would enjoy.   I just waltzed up and down the aisles, cheerfully buying my favorite things, and other interesting foods that I normally eye, but decide are not practical.   Whee. 
Why was that so much fun, while regular Christmas shopping is a chore?  Maybe I just don't like 'stuff', so giving 'stuff' isn't fun.  I like food, so buying somebody things that I like to eat, feels like real sharing?   

MsSindy

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2012, 11:14:55 AM »
My side of the family is easy - no gifts.  We're spread out all over the country and stopped giving gifts years (decades) ago. 

My hubby's family lives outside of Toronto and is about an 8 hour drive for us.  I started lobbying my MIL around Thanksgiving that we should not do gifts for the adults but just the kids.  All the adults have everything they need.  Since we're not around the nieces/nephews enough to know what they are into each year or already have, we started just giving money.  Plus, last year I shopped thoughtfully for 3 of the kids (10 - 12 year olds), and by the time all was ripped open they couldn't even tell what was from their Aunt and Uncle versus everyone else... so no more.  I always find it funny though, because his parents give us money and we turn-around and give it to the children... we're really just middlemen!  So, the brothers honored the no-gift suggestion and his Aunt gave us a bottle of local wine and a crystal votive holder....so, I feel we got out of there in good shape!  Plus, I helped my MIL vacuum pack a whole bunch of delicious leftovers and took some home (shhh, don't tell the border police!).

Interestingly, one of the sisters-in-law said how relieved she was not to do gifts for the adults and that it was great being able to come over and just enjoy a nice meal and sing Christmas songs and enjoy everyone's company.  I was surprised, because she's usually the 'gifter'..... maybe she's finally getting tired of the pressure, too.

kkbmustang

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2012, 08:05:51 PM »
We definitely did less. I'd say our total spend was about 50-60% of what it was last year, and that includes Christmas cards and postage. Everyone seemed happy, so I'd say it was a success. We still exchange gifts for the adults, but the dollar amounts have been coming down over the years. It's less stressful (less shopping required). We cash flowed Christmas with sales on ebay and CraigsList, so there was no impact to our regular monthly budget.

Our gifts were, for the most part, items we specifically requested, along with gift cards. It was a success all around, I think. The goal for next year is to reduce the spend by another third. I tracked everything in a spreadsheet so I can compare next year.

Meadow Lark

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2012, 12:21:15 AM »
I think we did okay.  My son got the Republic Wireless phone.  Around $250, plus only $20 a month for unlimited everything.  Aeropostale had a good sale, so he also got 5 jeans @$15.80 a piece.  He's very thin and hard to find clothes that fit well (no droopy pants) We're putting a few away for a couple months.  He doesn't grow so fast now that he is 6'2" . And a $25 xbox controller.  I got an IPad bought on Thanksgiving ($399 but with a $100 GC to Walmart.)  I had dropped and destroyed my laptop a month before, so it is my new computer.  My wife got a $270 camera that she really wanted.  Everyone got expensive gifts, but we also all got exactly what we wanted.  And we are trying to do a better job of clustering the gifts at holidays, instead of buying expensive things all year round.
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ruthiegirl

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2012, 06:40:07 AM »
We did great!   I am thrilled with our Christmas -- smaller, lighter, happy and very fun.  Each of the kids got one gift, new pajamas and a new robe.  We have been keeping the heat low this winter and everyone looked so sweet all bundled up in the new, warm robes.  I got a great deal on them, so moneywise, it was a good purchase. 

Gifts were purposeful and useful, everyone seems very happy and content.  We are living the life right now -- we have enough and are finally turning our boat around and focusing on our financial and spiritual health. 

With my newfound love for Mustachianism, I got a heaping plateful of optimism for Christmas. 

Bakari

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2012, 09:04:55 AM »
I can't believe I forgot to mention this part the first time I wrote in this thread:



I got a "tree" from the xmas tree place in the supermarket parking lot.



Then we decorated it with a string of $5 battery powered LED lights I got a few years ago, and earrings (which look a lot like miniature xmas tree balls, right down to the hangy hook!)



And lastly, surrounded it with candles and an oil lamp (from dump runs years ago)



Of course, it really isn't a tree at all, its a branch.  But smells the same, and it fits on the kitchen table in my 250 sq ft space.
And best of all, the xmas tree guy gave it to me for free.  In fact , he said I was welcome to as much branches as I wanted.
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KGZotU

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2012, 11:54:02 AM »
Of course, it really isn't a tree at all, its a branch.  But smells the same, and it fits on the kitchen table in my 250 sq ft space. And best of all, the xmas tree guy gave it to me for free.  In fact , he said I was welcome to as much branches as I wanted.

I sense an arbitrage opportunity; all we need is a source for five-foot wooden dowels. :P

jennie

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2012, 01:26:00 PM »
similar to Bakari, we always had 'branches' growing up.  My mom was a single parent and loved to decorate but everything was low key.  Branches were free (or usually a dollar donation to the charity tree lot) and the house smelled great and felt festive.  my Husband and I have used the same 1.5 foot tall artificial tree for years and I plan on expanding to include the 'branches' route for smell once we have a child. 

This year I gave and received one (sub 30 dollar) present and it was great!  I also received a check from my grandmother.  I have asked her for years to stop sending them and she always agrees but continues to give them anyway!  So I am splitting it half to student loans (for frugal satisfaction) and half to an ebay purchase (which combines entertainment, shopping and gambling satisfaction for about 50 dollars!) also I can share with her what she got me and be genuinely excited about it. 

as always I should add that although I rarely comment/post, I still read this blog/forum all the time and really appreciate it's wisdom and ability to keep me 'on track'... Happy New Year!

Jaherman99

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2012, 03:15:04 PM »
In addition to the shoe/pedal system for my girlfriend's bicycle, the two of us treated ourselves by taking the portable heater out of the storage shed, and heating the room to 65 degrees for the day (we didn't leave the house all day)

Ha! And Bakari proves to the world that there actually is someone for everyone!

kkbmustang

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2012, 04:44:56 PM »

Of course, it really isn't a tree at all, its a branch.  But smells the same, and it fits on the kitchen table in my 250 sq ft space. And best of all, the xmas tree guy gave it to me for free.  In fact , he said I was welcome to as much branches as I wanted.

Our pre-lit artificial tree was broken this year in that only 1/3 of the lights actually worked. My daughter was very ingenious. She put the pre-lit snowflake stick things you line the sidewalk with in the tree and we got another Christmas out of the tree. This tree will go the curb. It's a 7 foot tree, which we decided we no longer need. We can't use Bakari's trick because the Hubs is allergic to the real trees, but we can get a smaller 3 foot-ish tree next year. Since we're downsizing our Christmas ornament collection (and all holiday decorations in general), that will work well with a smaller tree.

I'll be selling all of the excess holiday decorations which will fund the purchase of the "new" tree next year.

Also, the in-laws announced this week that they are spending 2013 going through all of their crap and getting rid of what they don't want or need. This was the best Christmas present ever. Not to be gruesome, but they're getting older and they have a lot of crap that I don't really look forward to going through when they pass away. They have a house full of stuff and a BARN full. No, I'm not kidding.

I convinced my parents 6 years ago when they were getting ready to move to do the same thing. They did an awesome job, but my dad still has his utility bills from when he and my mom were married in the 1960s. He got rid of stuff, but he's still hanging onto that paper. It's all very organized, but still. Why on earth would you ever need that information?

travelbug

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2012, 07:50:55 PM »
Most of our family adults decided to give each other edible things this year.   As a result, I had the most fun Christmas shopping ever. 
One trip to Loblaws, and one trip to the wine store, and I was ready to give everyone something they would enjoy.   I just waltzed up and down the aisles, cheerfully buying my favorite things, and other interesting foods that I normally eye, but decide are not practical.   Whee. 
Why was that so much fun, while regular Christmas shopping is a chore?  Maybe I just don't like 'stuff', so giving 'stuff' isn't fun.  I like food, so buying somebody things that I like to eat, feels like real sharing?

That sounds like awesome fun!

We had the most frugal Christmas ever this year too.

Our children still had many presents under the tree but many were things they needed like underpants, shorts, jeans etc.
They also received smaller things and I had most of the family members ease up with the gifting this year too.
Last year was excess in crazy town, not by us, but by family. The children were so overwhelmed it took two days to open the presents. Ridiculous!

I love reading threads like this as it helps make me feel like I am not the only one out there still celebrating Christmas but just not through consumption.

WhatMomWears

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2013, 09:12:56 PM »
My son would have happily stopped with his stocking full of trains.

We followed our own version of the Victorian Christmas and it worked great.

Something to read
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Something you want
Something you need

N

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2013, 10:41:55 PM »
we spent about 400$ total, I think. in the past it would have been 2 or 3 times that.
I feel good about our xmas this year.
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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2013, 05:56:41 AM »
On gifts, we spent a lot less.  My side of the family (brother, father and mother) all have financial troubles right now (underemployed, forced "retirement" with no savings, and divorce, respectively), and I told them that no presents were necessary this year and that all I wanted to do was to see their ugly mugs.  They each bought small gifts for our 9mo old son, and my wife and I decided to fill stockings for each one of them to make it feel like Christmas (<$50 in small useful gifts in each).   

Unfortunately, due to their financial troubles, we took it upon ourselves to pay for flights for the 2 that were not remotely within driving distance.  I considered the alternative of not having them here for my sons first Christmas, but that just didn't jive with us.  Maybe when my brother finishes his medical degree and is a big shot surgeon, he can pay me back. If not, no loss here.

It was a jolly Christmas.
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eyePod

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2013, 10:26:33 AM »
Somewhere around 600 bucks probably.  Honestly though, I love Christmas.  I love getting gift cards too.  They allow me to buy the nice to haves which I wouldn't spend my own money on (new warmer weather gear and a windproof biking jacket).
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The Bearded Bank Builder

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2013, 12:55:22 PM »
I'm happy about our Christmas. We really tried to get people things they would use. A lot of food items, some homemade art (not made by me, but by my much more talented fiancee). And in return we asked for people to make donations to charities. In my opinion, this is a great gift. It makes us, the recipients, feel good that the money went to a good cause, and it makes the gift giver feel good to make the donation.

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Re: How did you go this Xmas?
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2013, 03:24:04 PM »
You know, at first I would have said a disaster, but then I compared it to the ghosts of Xmas past.

In the past I a "bad" Christmas would have been credit card debt that I would have wondered how to pay off quickly. This year, instead of that, we just saved less than we have been. We could have spent less (and should have), but I think for a first go as a mustachian, we did well to break the old mould. We probably spent about 2/3 of what we used to, but with our increasingly mustachian ways, we just spent money we had in our chequing accounts. Pretty pumped.