Halloween, Thanksgiving,and Christmas are looming in the near future. Expenses for candy, food and gifts add up to a significant amount of money especially if you go all out for these holidays.
When our children were growing up, I made their Halloween costumes. I could sew a much nicer one for less money than buying a run of the mill one in the store. My sons were two years apart in age almost to the day. So my younger son always had his older brother's hand me downs. When the boys got old enough to use their imaginations to make costumes they did. Then when they were in junior high, I decided they were too old to go trick or treating. Most of the older kids who were out in the neighborhood were usually causing trouble and I did not want them to be a part of that.
Every year I buy candy through out the year with long expiration dates. I stock on after holiday candy and use it for Halloween if it doesn't have Christmas or Easter Bunny wrappers. All year long I will get deals for pennies or free for regular size bars and put those away for Halloween. I have enough candy already to do Halloween this year so it's already paid for.
When I decorate, I keep it simple. Just some things in the windows and a pumpkin or two outside if they are reasonably priced. My window decorations I have used for almost 50 years. Some years pumpkins have been cheap and some they have been expensive. I forgo the expensive ones. Even the cheap ones I cook up after the holiday and freeze for pies.
Next is Thanksgiving. I keep the decorating simple for this one also. I usually have a fall centerpiece on the table( I have reused this for many years) with pumpkins, apples and scarecrows that I can use for Thanksgiving. Some years one of my boys and his wife send a Thanksgiving flower centerpiece. I also put out place markers with turkeys on them with everyone's name on them at the table. I have used these over and over again for many years too.
Turkeys usually go on sale for Thanksgiving. When I can get them for under $ 1.00 per lb., I will stock up my freezer with a few extras. I still have one left that I purchased last Thanksgiving and I will be roasting it as soon as the autumn weather is here. Hopefully I can roast it on a day that no A/C or heat is on in our home. I usually stock on other foods that are rock bottom at Thanksgiving too. But I will leave that for another post in November.
I do the same simple decorating for Christmas. I don't decorate every room. I just do our great room with a small decorated tree and the dining room with a table centerpiece. I do put our manger on the dining room hutch. Hubby puts our candle lights and wreaths in our windows. He also decorates the outside of our porch and some trees and bushes with lights. Most all of our decorations we have had for years with the exception of LED lights for outdoors that we purchased a few years ago.
Money for decorations would only be for the pumpkins. We have decided that we will set aside $ 100. for pumpkins, wine, beer and food for our Thanksgiving dinner. We will not be hosting anyone for Christmas this year. We keep our Thanksgiving dinner very simple making turkey, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, one or two vegetables, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies, beer and wine. Sometimes my daughter in laws bring a pie. Sometimes not. So $100. should be plenty. If we don't spend it all, I will stock on other foods at rock bottom prices.
But we are also budgeting an additional $150. to stock on other things like extra turkeys, hams, butter, cranberries, and baking supplies.
Christmas expenses for us will mainly be gifts. We have decided to spend $100. on each of our grandchildren for their gifts. We will spend $ 50. each for our sons and daughter in laws. Hubby and I do not exchange gifts because we buy what we need all year long. We also do not exchange gifts by mutual request with any of our extended family. We do give gifts to our mailman, newspaper carrier(we tip her generously every week also) , and our UPS regular delivery man. But I limit the amount spent on those to $5.00 - $10.00 each. I also give a $25. gift card to my hairdresser that I go to all year who I tip generously(20%) every month. So this year we are budgeting $ 455. for gifts at Christmas.
We could go overboard on the grandchildren but they are learning about money and how to spend it wisely so I don't want to ruin what they have learned. Quick story: My granddaughter was here for two weeks and I offered to buy her a game for her Nintendo that she wanted. But she turned me down. She said, "I have saved the money for it Grandma doing extra chores. I also have a lot of gift cards that I got for my birthday. So I will buy it myself." I loved that she is already at her young age learning that you work for money.
Cards and greeting cards at Christmas are also an expense. However, we have a huge roll of brown paper that we can decorate with stamps made from sponges. I also have paper left from other years. I bought 10 boxes of Christmas cards on clearance for pennies a couple of years ago. They will last us for years. Stamps I buy in bulk at a discount at B.J.'s. I send out about 20 cards each year so the cost is only about $10.00 for stamps. I buy stamps during the year in bulk so we should have plenty to mail the cards.
This plan should work for us and prevent us from just spending frivolously. Planning in advance saves on impulse purchases. We will always know how much money we have left as we buy things. When the budget is gone, we stop shopping.