Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday gifts

I know a lot of you may kill me for saying this, but my holiday shopping just kind of did itself this year. I mean, obviously I was involved, but it was shocking how quickly I went from realizing that OMG it's already December to having pretty much everyone checked off my list. Seriously, I'm done, and all that's left to do is wrap it all up.

And speaking of wrapping, um, I suck at it. I can't bring myself to do gift bags because a) they're expensive, and b) they aren't interactive enough. Pulling something out of a bag is just not the same as eagerly tearing into shiny paper. So, wrapping it is, but I've never been the type to measure perfectly, and cut straight even lines, and fold the edges over, and make perfect box corners. I don't tie ribbons and if I did, I certainly wouldn't curl them. My presents aren't wrapped in torn newspaper and masking tape, but they aren't exactly artistic masterpieces either.

As for the gifts themselves, I can't really talk about the lovely items I purchased for everyone, because most of them read this blog. But I am curious about budgeting for gifts. Torsten and I both have small families--we aren't in the habit of exchanging gifts with extended family, and between us we have four parents and one sibling, so that means we can spend a bit more on each person. All together, including family members and a few friends, we spent about $500 on holiday gifts this year. We didn't set a budget, but this is about the amount that I would have set for us to spend if I had tried to make a budget.

But what I'm wondering is, is this normal? Are we incredibly splurge-y, or totally cheap, or somewhere in the middle? How much do you spend on holiday gifts? And do you have a per-person budget or an overall absolute budget? How do you spread the wealth--in other words, on whom do you spend the most?

55 comments:

  1. Our families are relatively small too. Mine is parents, grandparents, sister, uncle. And husband's family is even smaller, parents, brother/SIL, 1 nephew.

    What we do is pick 1 name in each family (seperately) and give 1 gift (in each family). The spending limit is around $50 so we spend a total of $200, plus a seperate small gift for the nephew.

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  2. Our families are also small- all tolled we have to buy gifts for 9 people. We spent about $1000 so we are on par for what you are spending. Our parents spend a TON of money on us, so the majority of that budget goes to them. We spend about $50 on our siblings/sister in law.

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  3. We have to buy for:
    * one niece
    * four nephews
    * my mother and grandmother
    * my husband's mother and father
    * my three sisters and one brother-in-law
    * my husband's sister and brother-in-law
    * our own three children
    * each other
    * three teachers and a bus driver

    All told we end up spending about $1500. Yikes. We really need to start saving up for Christmas -- and spending less!

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  4. We had to buy for 15 people in total, and we've ended up spending about $200. I'm shocked, we're $150 under budget so far!

    We're doing gift packages, I'm making card sets for my friends, wedding books for my family, and everyone's getting a yummy assortment of Christmas cookies, loose black tea, and a really high quality tea ball.

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  5. LOTM's family is HUGE, but we don't exchange gifts with them. Well, except for the kids, and they only get gift cards from us. We used to draw names, but finances being what they are, that was dropped.

    This year, I wanted to do a family cookbook. Everyone sends me a favorite recipe (EVERYONE, even the little kids) and a story about food. Then I was going to print it, staple it all together and say, "yeah, um, merry happy whatever."

    Maybe next year.

    Oh, and wrapping??? Nope, I hate it. So, for the few gifts I buy, I have them wrapped by whatever charity has the wrapping booth at the mall. Saves me grief, helps out a good cause, and I get to be surprised every Christmas morning when I realize I've forgotten what is inside each beautifully wrapped box and I can't remember who gets what. Oh, such fun.

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  6. I bake cookies/make candy and ship them to my parents and grandparents. They've all told me that they don't need any more "stuff." I usually bake things for friends too. Baking supplies & shipping costs for everyone is usually less than $50.

    I spend $30-$50 on my brother. I spend the most on my boyfriend, about - $150. When I start making more money I will spend more on gifts, but I have a very limited budget these days!

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  7. We have to buy for about 20 people, but this year we're cutting back on the amounts we spend, so I anticipate spending about $700 total. We spend about $50 on parents, $30 on siblings and $20 on nephews, aunts, cousins, etc. (I really wish we didn't have to exchange so many gifts on my side; Jason's extended family draws names and that's so much better.)

    This year, Jason & I aren't exchanging gifts, but we are doing stockings. For the whole month of December we'll put stuff in each other's stocking, with a spending cap of $40. It's fun goofy stuff, maybe a new CD or maybe a favorite candy bar. We both look forward to hearing, "Have you checked your stocking today?"

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  8. i haven't even started shopping - i'm doomed.

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  9. I don't really have a budget. On one sibling I might spend $40 and on another $15... not because I like them any different but because I found something they like, and it doesn't matter what price it is unless it's like, over $50 in which case I'll ask another sibling to go halvsies with me.

    For all 9 siblings, my roommate, my parents, my 2 grandparents, my 1 great grandparent, my sister's husband, and a few friends, I hope to keep it under $500 (then again I am a student)

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  10. My familiy is realtively small too. I ended up spending about $650 for gifts - more than I planned, but that's because L's gift was twice what I had allotted for (but it's so worth it and it's kind of a gift for both of us). I spend the most on him and my parents. So that 650 included: him, my parents, my cousin and his wife, my other cousin and his gf, my aunt, my best friend from college, l's parents, l's sister, l's grandma, l's other grandma.

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  11. I am a terrible gift wrapper as well. It's horrible, because my sister is a gift wrapping diva. I might as well roll my gifts in toilet paper.

    We have several people to buy for, but I would say we usually keep it around 500. This year, though, I made the gifts for everyone. I think I am going to keep that tradition up, and make donations in people's names from now on. It just feels more like the holidays for me this year, knowing that I have spent months crafting beautiful things for everyone. Even if they don't know, I do.

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  12. I just started buying last night and I have no idea how much i'm going to spend... I just buy little things that I see and then give them to people. Yes...I know how disorganized I am.

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  13. My kids are still relatively young, so they get a lot of presents, but we don't actually spend a lot on them (maybe $75 each). Besides that we buy for 6 kids (about $40 each), my parents ($100 together) and we draw for stockings ($30 limit). Since having kids, we don't exchange gifts with our siblings. So what's that? About $500, not including Homer and I exchanging gifts, which is probably about $100 each. So our total Christmas budget is about $700 for 14 people.

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  14. I spend the most on my sister, of course!

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  15. I have a larger extended family but we stopped buying gifts for each other ages ago. We all have enough "stuff." I dont set a budget but I dont go overboard either. This year I bought for my mom, brother, stepdad and grandparents. I spent about $250. For friends, I make cookies and we all go out to a nice dinner to just enjoy being together. I also give to charities this time of year.

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  16. family-wise, i only buy for my mom, dad, and sister. my sister and i ususally spend around $100 per person, give or take - usually one big thing for each parent (like an ipod touch for my dad from the 2 of us this year).

    friends totally get the shaft - i'm way cheaper there :-)

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  17. We both have LARGE families and the exchanging gift thing got totally out of hands years ago so now we draw names on both sides so in addition to parental figures, we have to buy five gifts for each side of the family. I am ashamed to admit I still buy the gifts 'from the boys' - I'm afraid they will forget and that would be bad. I've never really set a budget, in lean times we spend less and in good times we spend more but on average I bet we spend at least $2000 a year - sad but true...

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  18. I'm one of the weird ones because I LOVE the wrapping part.

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  19. I probably spent about that... of course, a lot of that was for Chris, but you know.

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  20. I have a big family! But this year, for about half of the family, we are doing secret santa with one $50 gift to give. That only leaves about 10 other presents to buy! I tend to spend the most on my husband. In lean years, maybe a $100, in fat years, up to $200-$300 (he like gadgets). This year we are spending about $600 in all if you count gifts to each other.

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  21. 4 years of undergrad, 1 year of being a government volunteer, and 3 years of law school have turned me into an expert gift-giver on a budget. I'm low on cash but big on time during my winter break, so I do things for people:
    --My sister wont' let her husband eat sweets, so I always make him a few loaves of banana cinnamon chocolate-chip bread and bourbon balls.
    --I make a big dinner for my Mom & Dad--generally something they wouldn't take the time to make for themselves, like osso bucco or real Kentucky Hot Browns
    --I also offer myself to each person in the family for one day--any chore, any task, anything...for one day only. This is a favorite for my sister, who has a MASSIVE old house that is in serious need of renovation.

    I do also try to buy each person a small gift, like scarves or good vintage finds. At first, I felt awful about not giving "real" gifts, but my family eats this stuff up like candy! They love it! Which is good, considering that I'm looking at jobs that will hardly pay my rent. :)

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  22. I probably spend about that on my immediate family (five people) and maybe $100+ more on friends.

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  23. I think I would probably say we spend the same. But then when I think back, it's probably more. Maybe $700 or so? I spread it out this year so it hasn't felt like a huge hit to the checking account.

    We don't go overboard on people though either.

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  24. I pretty much only buy gifts for my parents, and the one cousin assigned to me in our extended family gift exchange.

    That being said, the amount I spend depends on the amount I have, because I *love* giving gifts! Every year my parents and I say "oh, we're going to keep Christmas small this year," and ever year we fail miserably. Even when I was a kid and we didn't have much money, I can't remember a Christmas where the underside of the tree wasn't bursting with boxes, even if everything in them came from the sale racks at K-Mart.

    What can I say? I guess we like each other...

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  25. We draw names on one side of the family, but not the other. I do try to set a budget but I love buying presents so it usually snowballs and gets out of hand by the end, especially when you add in a christmas tree and decor and pictures with Santa and all of that fun stuff. We spend a lot of money on my family because they spend SO much money on us - and every year we try to get them to tone it down and it never works. Next year I hope to actually have money in savings for christmas so I don't have to be all stressed out about it and carving it out of my grocery budget, and my goal is to have $1250 set aside for Christmas.
    I look upon my friends who spend NOTHING at christmas time (and who don't receive anything) with pure envy.
    On the other hand, I can hardly wait for the moment my 23 month old opens the giant car carrier I found him. It's pretty fun to buy presents for little boys :)

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  26. I feel really... kind of oddly guilty saying this, but I spent $550 just on my boyfriend's gift [a watch]. I spent about another $500 on everyone else [my parents, one of my brothers, my boyfriends parents... I didn't buy gifts for any of his 3 brothers or for my other brother and his fiancee, but that's a long story]. Plus I spent another $300 on airplane tickets for the holidays... thank God for the tip money I make this time of year, that's pretty much what bought all of this stuff.

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  27. It's hard to say. We don't really budget (which is really, really stupid), so who we buy for and what we buy varies from year to year.

    HAVE to buy for: the kids (duh!), neices, nephew--and usually one pretty big family gift.

    USUALLY BUY: $10-$20 gifts for 2-3 friends IF we are exchanging this year (sometimes we say "it's a bad year" and we don't exchange).

    WILL BUY IF FUNDS AVAILABLE: Gift card for my brother. Gift card or really cool gift for my mother.

    I'm going to guess that we usually spend about $200-$500 a year--depending on how much we've got to play with.

    And I've hardly even BEGUN my shopping. And I gotta figure out what to get my daughter for HER bday on the 23rd, too! Yikes!

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  28. Im looking at about 2500 this year but that is with 4 kids and about 40 various others. I try to keep everyone outside of my immediate family at a maximum of $10-just enough to say that Im thinking about them. My brothers, parents and nieces/nephews are all a little more ($25) and the kids get the rest.

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  29. We had about 30 people plus two kids and we also kept it under 500. It's more than we should have spent, but sigh. Whatta you do.

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  30. We had about 30 people plus two kids and we also kept it under 500. It's more than we should have spent, but sigh. Whatta you do.

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  31. That is the one good thing about being Grand Central for Will's family this year. Being the hosts and cooks (and servers and chauffers)for a few weeks kind of takes the pressure off buying a bunch of stuff we can't afford. If we could afford it though, I would go all out. I like giving people presents a lot more than I like getting presents from other people.

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  32. we buy for five siblings, four parents and three grandparents. we try to spend around $20 or so on each person. this year, though, we've been trying to spend less (sales are awesome!) because of the economy.

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  33. Can I just say that you are the cutest person ever? I mean, once I'm done be Jaded and Cynical and I actually grow up and get married (yeah I know we're the same age, shhh) I want to be just like you and T.

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  34. I have a small family, too (and no extended family to exchange gifts with), so I usually get off fairly easily, too. I probably spend about $300 total, but I do gifts for some of my close friends, and those are included in that estimate, too.

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  35. Sweets and I both have small families, too. But, I think we'll spend over $500 this year. And this is the year we're supposedly not spending a lot of money. Sigh. By far, I spend the most on Sweets ... cuz, I do have to sleep with him at night and all. =)

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  36. This year I have paid all my tuition BY MYSELF for teacher's college, so my family knows that they are getting zilch from me for Christmas.

    But I think I'm going to make up some adorable home-made cards, with a note inside that says they each get "Stephanie's Undying Love"... which I think is priceless, really.

    In other years: I spend about $25-$40 each on my parents and my two brothers (depending on what I find for them). For my boyfriend I might spend $30-$50 (again, depending on what I find for him; and often we'll spend a little money on a date night and consider it a gift). When I have a real job, then we'll see if I can spend a bit more.

    I don't feel the need to spend excessively, unless there's something REALLY COOL that I just HAVE to get for someone. If I wanted to spend more on my parents, I might go in on it with my 19-year-old brother.

    But again, this year I am spending $0. My parents present was me, not asking for a loan for school. LOL. Oh, and that undying love.

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  37. Dave has a lot of people on his side getting gifts, so we set a limit of $40 per person. And for us, our anniversary (today!) is right before Christmas, so we do something small.

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  38. We don't spend anywhere near $500 for family/friend gifts, but then again we have 3 kids and 2 mortgages so we can't really afford to. lol
    We try to spend around $20 for each niece and under $50 for each set of parents. We stopped drawing names this year, so that's all we have to give. I am making bread, jam and homemade cookies for my friends and that's pretty inexpensive.
    The majority of the money we spend is spent on our kids.

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  39. I have a large family (4 siblings, 9 nieces and nephews) and Ryan has a small family (just his sister) and then we have our parents and my grandparents and a couple friends. This year my parents told my siblings and I that we are not allowed to buy them anything (some of us are going through REALLY tight times financially), and my sisters and I have drawn names in the past, but this year we are doing a "white elephant" gift exchange where we wrap up something we have already but aren't using and think someone else would like. I think we'll end up spending about $600 total. Most of our money goes to buying gifts for my nieces and nephews (I got family games this year), and to each other.

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  40. My family is pretty good-sized, so we draw names and just buy stuff for one person. This year our budget is $25 and in the past we've done $50. There's only one little kid so far, and she's only 5 months, but we're all buying stuff for her (like diapers, teething supplies, books, etc.).

    And too bad I don't live closer... wrapping presents is one of my favorite things ever. I'm good at it and pretty creative, and I love doing it. I'd wrap your whole mountain of presents if you didn't live clear across the country. :(

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  41. Last year we went a little overboard. We probably spent like $1500 over all. (I'm the oldest of 8 kids, and we spent $50 a piece on them, plus both sets of parents, his half-brother, and each other)

    This year, we set a limit of $200 for each other. My siblings and I drew names, and everything else is getting scaled down too. Which is a darn good thing!

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  42. We are all definitely cutting back this year, myself included, which is sad because I love giving small gifts to friends. But not this time. I am awful at wrapping too

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  44. We made a $50 budget for each adult and $25 for the kids. I think it amounted to $1000!

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  45. We spent way too much! At least a $1000 for just the kids we had to buy for.

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  46. I want you to know I left this marked 'unread' and came back to it hours later. :)

    I have a giant family and P's family is small. I try to spend no more than $20 per person. Works well for certain people, horrible for others, but if I don't try to stick to a budget we spend waaaay too much. Oh, and this doesn't apply to P and me. He BETTER spend more than $20 on me!

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  47. My mom and stepdad- we spent about $200.

    My dad and stepmom- we spent $25- which is the limit THEY set.

    His family- we spent about $500 and that is his mom, dad, brother in law, sister in law and two nephews and

    we had a $200 budget for each other.

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  48. I never pull the paper off! I'm very careful when I unwrap gifts.

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  49. Well it depends. Gifts btw hubby and me are usually around 100bucks, closest family members 50bucks, slightly more extended family (brothers gf, aunts gf, one niece)get btw 20 and 30 bucks and the same for friends. It still adds up. But hey! Tis the season - and I usually start planning and buying gifts in sept/oct so we don't feel the spending so much.

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  50. We buy for both sets of parents (about $80 - $100 each set), one aunt ($50 - $70, she's really generous to us), my grandma ($50), our 8 nieces/nephews (about $20 - $25 each), a couple of friends' kids (maybe $30 total there), a few random charity "angel" gifts ($30 total), then our three kids (amounts very greatly from year to year - this year I think we spent about $100 - $115 for each, then they also will get a big gift that is for the 3 of them combined from us...because it's something we found at the end of the summer for a heavily dicsounted price, but still expensive at about $150 - this is not an annual thing.) Yipes, that's about $1000! And that doesn't count us buying for each other - which also varies greatly from year to year depending. This year we are going with token gifts, under $50 (probably because of that big purchase for the kids, you see).

    Basically, excluding ourselves, we're buying for 15 kids and 6 adults. We do not exchange with our siblings or friends, because everyone's got kids. Also, because it's so hard to get together around the holidays with friends that we'd end up exchanging in January. We decided a few years back to make a better effort in getting together and skip the gifts...and it's actually working out well.

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  51. We have little family near us. But, we do send gifts. I try not to spend too much during the holidays. I love deals from black friday. I would say 300-500 for everyone for the holidays. We send xmas cards, and then pictures to family (framed). That really is what everyone asks for, and looks forward to.
    We also try to give to charity as well during the holidays. There are so many without loved ones, and that need help and have nothing. So we also give a little to local charities as well.

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  52. Just last year my family implimented a secret santa swap where we each get one person to spend $75 on. Kids aren't included. With my $75 gift to my secret person, my kids, my niece and a few friends I probably spend about $500 also.

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  53. We buy for our parents, his sister, my sister and her family, and my little brother. I have a no gifts, no obligations, no hurt feelings arrangement with my older brother. I'd like to get the same agreement with the others, but our parents love spending on us so we can't not reciprocate and his sister and my brother are fun to give gifts to.

    I spend the least on my dad, basically fancy beer for under $30, and the most on my sister, a family present in the $250 range.

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  54. i def spend the most on my brother. and vice versa!

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  55. we spend the most on each other, with our parents in a close second. We set a limit for each person we have to shop for and we did great with that this year. What killed us was shipping all the presents! Some to WA, some to Canada and one or two overseas. Good grief! We try to spend as little as possible. This year, I think it topped out at just over $350. We'd love to be able to spend more but we just can't. Also, this year, we tried something new and used cash to get a Visa 'gift' card that we only used for Christmas presents. The idea was that it would make things easier for online shopping and once the card was used up, Christmas shopping was over. It didn't quite work out (stupid shipping!) but we'll try again next year.

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