Wednesday, January 02, 2013

holiday spending

Our bank account is feeling a little deflated this month. Kind of par for the course with the holidays happening here, and at the end of the day we're still leaving the month with more money saved than we had at the start of the month, but still. Not the amount of savings I'd hoped for, even though I knew my hopes were realistic.

This year we had two very different Christmas celebrations. At my mom's house everything was about big gifts, and large presents (or in some cases, large amounts of presents) were given and received. Bunny's family on the other hand did away with the gift exchange entirely, except for our teenage niece because the whole fun of Christmas is giving gifts to younger people.

I much prefered Bunny's family Christmas. As much as it's fun choosing gifts for people, and receiving gifts, it just doesn't do it for me really. I mean I love picking out the "perfect" gift, but sometimes the perfect gift is really just "here's something I know you really want and I tried really hard but it's personal and so I got a gift receipt". Which is just no fun. Maybe I'm feeling grinchy because I feel guilty about the fact that Bunny and I are exchanging part of his gift to me, because while it's beautiful and thoughtful it won't ever get worn. Which makes me feel crazily guilty, and it's not the way that either of us wants to feel about the gifts we give each other. At the end of the day though the big gifts don't do much for me.

The gift I was most excited about buying was for Bunny, and it was a whopping thirty dollars but it was perfect for him. Next to that getting my brother a small collection of sports accessories and some gifts for our niece was super fun. The gifts that I was most excited about receiving were all small ones: beautiful earrings from my niece, quilting classes from Bunny (seriously! the man bought me quilting classes), a sewing box and some fabric from my mom.

Christmas wise the "spending money" bit really gets on my nerves. It seems to miss the point, sort of. Every year in my family we all struggle to come up with giant wish lists of things that we want and that fit my mom's planned Christmas spending. (Maybe it somehow goes along with how strongly I reacted against the idea of a bridal shower?) Somehow all I can think is how much more interesting might it be if we set a small spending limit ($20? 50?) and tried to be more creative within the budget.

Then again, there's also the realization that if and when babies come I may feel completely different about spending money. I'll probably want to spoil my children a little bit, at least around Christmas. Although "budget" is probably the least of the decisions we have to make about babies and Christmas, when the time comes.

Holiday budgets are hard, really. How does your family handle it? Do you do big gifts, little gifts, secret Santa exchanges? Do you wish things were different?

4 comments:

  1. I will not lie - David and I went pretty all out on Christmas this year. For each other. The baby got a few items of clothing (mostly on sale), a tiny hockey jersey (on sale), and toys from Value Village. Oh, and I wrapped up a few things she already owned to stuff in her stocking.

    Because she couldn't have cared less. Hell, she got enough stuff from grandparents, so we didn't even open one of the boxes and are re-gifting the (cheap from Value Village) Mega Blocks for her birthday in a few months.

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    1. Bunny and I went fairly all out for each other this year as well. What it mostly cemented in my mind was that for us having big budgets to spend on each other didn't actually result in the greatest or most thoughtful gifts - I'm proudest of my little gifts to him and love his little gifts to me, but the big ones (in either direction) just didn't do it for me.

      That's a good point about babies not really caring about presents when they are so young. How many times do we hear stories about kids playing with the boxes and igoring the actual gift for ages?

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  2. Best present I gave is a Rome guidebook to my mother, and a promise that I would book her the trip she's been talking about for years. I'd do the planning, book it for her, on her credit card. Points for thoughtful presents!

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    1. Love it! That sounds like a perfect present, and so well thought out.

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