There’s a ton of ways that people budget for Christmas gifts. But I want to share my strategy for how I budget for holiday gifts.
To give you some background, I’m in a household of 2. It’s just my husband and I…with lots of relatives + all their pets to prepare holiday gifts for.
Holiday Gift Budget Tracking Sheet
To stay organized, I use a spreadsheet to track my holiday gift spending. I could just as easily use a notebook , but I like spreadsheets. I’ve been using the same spreadsheet every year since 2004. I just add the information for the current year to it.
Using the same gift tracking spreadsheet each year helps me both budget for gifts and helps me remember what I’ve bought in past years – so I don’t accidentally repeat a gift.
And, throughout the year, I can access the spreadsheet and update it with gift ideas as inspiration strikes.
Thanks to this, I also have an idea of what I’ll be spending on Christmas gifts months before our tree is up.
Plus, this helps me start my shopping earlier in the year, which is a huge help with saving money and saving time!
How I organize my holiday gift budget sheet
My Christmas budget spreadsheet has 5 columns:
- The name of each gift recipient
- A description of the gift
- Estimated spend for each gift*
- Actual amount spent on each gift
- The difference between the estimated spend and the actual spend
*My holiday gift budget limit is the total of the estimated spend for all the gifts.
Estimating the cost of each gift helps me shop easier
The goal of the estimated spend for each gift isn’t to spend up to that amount, but to plan for gifts that are priced either less than (win!) or within a reasonable range of the estimated spend.
Since my spend limit each year is the total of the estimates for all the gifts, having estimates by gift gives me some wiggle room (and maintains my sanity) when I’m shopping for gifts.
For example, if I spend $15 on a gift that had an estimated spend of $30, I’m not going to beat myself up for spending $35 on another gift with the same $30 budget.
I find this really helps keep my stress level down.
How I decide the spend budget for holiday gifts
To try and be fair, my husband and I budget for each gift based on our relationship with the recipient. Not who we like best, but where they fall on the family tree.
Here’s an example of how we budget for each gift:
(And, if you use this, change the numbers to fit your personal budget)
- Our Parents: $50 per parent
- Siblings: $40 per couple (all are married)
- Children: $20 per child (or per couple for “older kids” – sorry older kids!)
- Friends, other extended family + superiors at work: $15 each
- Family pets: $3 and
- Miscellaneous gifts: $3 (this includes a small thank you gift for our trash pick-up, recycling pick-up, mail carrier, coworkers and also a miscellaneous gift in case I forgot someone or there’s someone at the gift opening I was not expecting)