Christmas Gift Guide

Multi colored wrapped presents

For someone who has everything…tickets to the theatre or a concert. I am be bias since I work for a theatre but there is something magical about escaping for an evening to a show. For example, one year my husband’s Christmas gift was tickets to see Pentatonix together in concert. We had a wonderful time driving to Seattle, dinner, and the show. Time together + memorable experience = win!

For someone who you want to give a gift that continues after Christmas…subscription box. It’s always fun to continue Christmas giving into February. Many subscription services allow to purchase gift versions ranging from one month to a year. My personal favorites are Julep, Birchbox, or Dollar Shave Club.

  • Julep nail polish lasts a week plus on my nails. Amazing colors and coverage that give me an opportunity to feel professional and express my mood.
  • Birchbox and Ipsy are very similar in my mind and both great. $10 a month for premium trial size beauty products delivered each month. I like Birchbox’s reward system better but Ipsy often gives larger products so it depends on what you like.
  • Dollar Shave Club has the best razor on the planet. My husband and I share a subscription. You can purchase extra handles so we have two handles and razor blades arrives in the mail every other month.

For your niece, nephew, adorable cute kid…a book. I know many parents who prefer for their kids to not receive too many toys for Christmas. However I have not known a parent to turn down an age appropriate correct reading level book. My favorite I recently saw was Lost My Name which allows you to customize the adventure to the child’s name. The six year old who in me, who never had her name spelled right, is super excited for this book! If you are concerned please make sure to ask the parent’s opinion, but it’s a good alternative to the season’s hottest hard to get toy.

For your neighbor or family friendcookie mix or quick bread. Some of my favorite memories growing up were making gifts for the neighbors and families from church. Loaves of pumpkin bread or a mason jar M&M cookie mix are easy to produce in mass and have a fun homemade touch. Pinterest is your best friend in this regard!

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Image Credit: Vancity Buzz



Holiday To Do List

Fudge day or Christmas baking
The first Saturday in December a friend’s family makes fudge. Not just one batch and not just one kind. Hundreds of pieces of hand dipped fudge. Last year my husband and I had the opportunity to join. It is a blissfully long day of stirring hot fudge, making peanut brittle, finishing the candy and having dinner. Lots of Christmas music and far too much sugar. The countdown has begun to December 5th.

Christmas shopping
Due to our Christmas budget and sheer number of gifts to purchase, I often shop online. Amazon packages arrive at our house multiple times a week. However, I like to take one day and go wander around the mall. I take my list but don’t get stressed if I don’t find anything. It is simply fun to see all the decorations and exciting displays.

Peppermint hot chocolate
Last year my mom and I trekked to Bellevue Square for Snowflake Lane. It is a parade/performance on the street between two malls complete with a snow machine at the end of the evening. While I think a 6-year-old would have enjoyed it more than I did, I loved spending time with my mom and drinking peppermint hot chocolate. This year we are looking for another Christmas-y activity to do together.

Muppet Christmas Carol
In my family, Christmas starts the afternoon of Thanksgiving when we watch Muppet Christmas Carol. We sing along and recite the lines (much to my brother’s frustration). I love the tradition and hilarity of it all.

Knitting and cheesy movies
I knit all year round but during the holidays the number of projects often increase due to Christmas gifts. Cold, rainy evenings I will put on an awfully cheesy Netflix Christmas movie and knit. They are very poor quality movies but it makes me smile and I will knit for hours.

First snow
I am hoping and praying for a white Christmas, but I won’t be disappointed if snow arrives in January. I despise driving in snow (or heavy rain for that matter) but nothing beats a cup of hot coffee and looking out the window onto a perfectly white quiet scene.

Christmas Shopping and Budgeting

christmas balls

My birthday is in late October thus the moment my birthday is passed I start thinking of the holidays and looking forward to them. I realize I’m a grown adult, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite times of the year. I know I will get to see the entire extended family and few things make me happier then looking out the window at snow while sipping a peppermint mocha.

Between our two families we have 28 immediate members. While we have gift exchanges and don’t get a gift for every person, Christmas gift shopping is a large financial endeavor. Thus I wanted to share how we share and track Christmas spending.

First, we set aside money for Christmas all year. Each month we put a set amount of money into the Christmas line of our budget. This allows us not to be burdened by the expenses in December but also if I find an amazing deal in July I can purchase it with the money set aside.

Second, we have a crazy Google spreadsheet. I realize not everyone thinks in spreadsheets but it’s the way I have found to track so many moving parts.  The spreadsheet has a line for each person we are purchasing a gift  for. (click to expand the spreadsheet example)

Christmas Gifts 2015 - Google Sheets.clipular

Google Drive template – Please feel free to copy and change to your family’s use.

There is space for if the item is purchased (compared to planned or an idea), if the gift is finished thus doesn’t need any additional parts and if it is wrapped. The spreadsheet totals how much we have budgeted for Christmas, how much has been spent, and how much is available to spend. Finally, both my husband and I have access to the spreadsheet on Google Drive. This allows us to pull up the spreadsheet in Target when our memories fails. 🙂

How do you plan Christmas shopping?

P.S. Stay tuned for a future post on our general everyday budgeting.