Thursday, July 28, 2016

christmas in july

I know I'm technically 3 days late, but as part of our big budgeting overhaul we really wanted to buckle down on our spending at Christmas. Not that we go all out - last year we started doing a toned-down Christmas with the kids: 1 big combined gift (last year it was their playhouse) from us, 1 small gift per kid from each of us (we're talking Target Dollar Spot small), and about 2 small ($30 or less total) gifts from Santa (plus stocking stuffers).

Our reasons for dialed-back Christmas were twofold. As it stands, our kids are the only niece/nephew/grandchildren on both sides of our families and therefore get tons of gifts from others. Second, we recognize that not every family can afford to go all out (ourselves included, if we're being transparent) and we don't want our kids to unknowingly hurt the feelings of another kid if Santa were to bring our kids a "big" gift but not another child. That's why we chose to make the "big" gift from us. And between the handful of gifts that they got on Christmas morning and the stockings, there were no complaints at all about there not being enough.

In any case, since we started budgeting midway through 2016 (and we are still getting the hang of it) we already discussed what we will be able to afford at Christmas time. We have made the decision to do homemade gifts for all the extended relatives (our grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles) and only purchase for our family unit, our siblings, and our parents. Since I don't want the gifts we will make to be a total last-minute bust that people will throw out anyway, I already created a whole private Pinterest board of things I think our families would genuinely like and use. I have made plans to start working on those pre-Baby Turkey so that I have any hope of actually getting them done.

As for the kids, we have discussed what our big gift for them will be. As it stands now, we have $100 budgeted for their big gift. Perhaps in the coming years if our financial situation changes that will go up slightly since we are adding another kiddo to the mix. But we feel really good about that number (probably because we got their playhouse for brand new at exactly that amount on Black Friday last year) and we decided that in the future as their interests diverge we could switch the big gift from a physical gift to an experience (something like going to one of the indoor water parks in the area for a day - a special thing we don't typically get to do) or something that all our kids would enjoy. This year I would LOVE to get the kids a 2-seater Power Wheels because Elden's little power motorcycle recently died as their big gifts. Unfortunately, I don't know how realistic that is since the cheapest one I could find online right now is this $200 one (which didn't get great reviews). I have considered giving them a used one--we are no strangers to used toys for the kids--but my fear would be that it would die more quickly than a new one. The next thought was to get them a teeter totter because there was one on the playground we visited in Delaware and Elden has been asking about it since. The latter choice makes me nervous, though, due to possible bodily harm. Suffice to say, we are going to be keeping an eye on the sales between now and Christmas so if you see an amazing deal on a 2-seater ride-along toy please let me know!

In the meantime, Santa has started his shopping, too. We already got Elden his birthday gifts (this and this) and Edith hers (this), so Santa can focus strictly on Christmas. There were some awesome sales on toys at Zulily a few days ago, so Santa got the following:
Learning Resources Human Anatomy Body Model Set for Elden
Munchkin Green Sponge Bottle Brush for BT
Aurora World Inc. Lil Raccoon Rattle for BT
Santa has about $8 left for Elden, $20 for Edith and $13 for the baby, plus $10/kiddo for their stockings. Elden is fascinated by the human body - hence the choice in toy - so Santa is also looking for a play Dentist set since Elden has also expressed an interest in something like that (Santa isn't having much luck). Santa has no idea what to get Edith since her interests are ever-changing, but right now he's looking at this or this (there was also a Circo playset she was obsessed with at Target but I'm not seeing it on their website). Santa will likely also get some teethers for the baby and maybe an outfit or two depending on what we may need. 

Budgeting has definitely helped me be more intentional in my spending and planning. Since we don't have much to work with I'm really trying to think about what each child would truly appreciate and play with. For their stockings, I will likely get them some candy, probably a Chapstick (they love their Chapstick...), maybe some temporary tattoos, and a small book or two each (I'm thinking a few from this series). Nothing too crazy but all little things I know they'd love. 

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