Budgeting for Christmas

We are pleased to welcome Chris & Wendy Jeub as our guest bloggers this week. Chris and Wendy are the proud parents of 16 children.  Chris is the founder of Monument Publishing, a company that writes speech and speech debate curriculum. Wendy is the author of several books including : Love in the House, and Love in the Kitchen. Together, they speak at conferences around the country and write for several blogs including their own, Jeubfamily.com.

Budgeting for Christmas (repost from Dec 12, 2010 – Jeubfamily.com)
We are often asked how we “afford” Christmas, especially with so many children to “buy” for. We surprise people when we say we spend between $300 and $400 during the month of December specifically for Christmas gifts. Here are some principles we live by throughout the year to make sure we’re prepared during the Christmas season.
1. We shop all year long. If we are at a garage sale in June, for instance, we may see a great deal on a toy that we can’t pass up. Every sale we come by, we ask ourselves, “Should we save it for Christmas?” After buying it, we’ll stuff it in our closet. We have a few boxes of stuff in our closet that are “hands off” for the kids. We pull these boxes out early December and sort through them all and make a list to make sure everyone gets a gift.

2. We stick to the list. All our children get the following from Mom and Dad: 1 present, 1 book, and 1 stocking stuffer. They traditionally get up on Christmas morning to see a floor full of gifts under the tree. We don’t veer from our list; everyone gets the same quantity from Mom and Dad.

3. We emphasize gifts to each other. Mom and Dad aren’t the major gift-givers in our family. The siblings spend December making gifts for each other, visiting the dollar store, and wrapping gifts to place under the tree. Already there are about a dozen gifts wrapped and sitting under the tree. Far before we bring out our stack of gifts, the space under the tree will be packed.

4. We don’t give a lot to relatives and friends. We have nieces and nephews that we send gifts to, and they are, truthfully, a bigger part of our budget than our own kids. Friends don’t get a lot from us. We also don’t give to adult relatives anymore. We used to do this in our 20s, but we don’t do it anymore. We don’t feel like we’re missing anything, either.

5. We exchange Christmas letters. We pour a lot of time and energy into creating a Christmas letter that we send to approximately 300 families (see our post 8 Steps on How to Write a Christmas Letter). We can’t afford to give gifts to all our friends, but we don’t really feel the need to. We love our friends and we’re glad to share the Christmas season with them through letters. We take each Christmas letter we receive and tape it to the wall. By Christmas, we have hundreds of pictures, letters and cards covering our dining room wall. It is quite the conversation piece in our home. There is usually a family picture of families bigger than ours!

6. We emphasize the spiritual roots of Christmas. Gifts are awesome, and it is great fun to have the gifts stack up under the tree throughout December. We hold off on our gifts till Christmas morning. This adds to the excitement for the children, but more importantly, we spend Christmas Eve celebrating the Ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ to the world. Every child prepares a “gift” to Jesus (a song, poem, speech, picture–something of their talents), we read the Christmas story from the Bible, and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

How do you celebrate the Christmas season without getting caught up in the expense of it all?

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