Christmas Shopping Budgeting Tips


The following article is a guest post by Christopher from This That and the MBA. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please see our guest posting guidelines. Also, don’t forget that we are participating in an iPad3 giveaway! Find the details by clicking the link!


christmas list For many the Christmas season is a depressing time of the year. Add that to the fact that Christmas season shopping can be a significant financial burden, it is especially burdensome for those who have a large family or group of people whom they exchange gifts with. Many at the holiday time try to keep up with the “Jonses” by buying expensive gifts for each person on their list and have difficulty managing debt. One of the easiest ways is to shop throughout the year, but we all say that we are going to do it next year and we find ourselves in the same situation the following year.

Start by creating a list of all the people you need to buy Christmas presents for and a realistic budget for which you are trying to get all of your shopping done within. Obviously set aside a little more for people you may have overlooked. You may also want to include in your budget if you give to charitable organizations or toy drives.

Once you have the list of Christmas gift recipients there are a few different approaches you could take to dividing up the money you budgeted. One approach is to break up the total dollar figure into a few categories such as family, friends, and colleagues. Then you would take each of the categories and determine what percentage of the total budget you would like to spend. For example you might decide to spend 60% of your total budget on close friends and relatives, 15% of your total budget on colleagues, and 15% of your total budget on acquaintances and the remaining 10% on Christmas gifts for charitable organizations. These numbers can then be used to determine the total amount of money you will spend on each category and divide that number by the total number of people in each category to figure out a dollar amount for each person on your Christmas list.

Another Christmas shopping budget strategy is to figure out who on your list that you would like to spend the most money one, then set that money aside. Once you have this money set aside for family and close friends it is time to divide up the remaining money for the rest of your Christmas budget. You can divide the remainder arbitrarily by the number of people left or you can continue to go about this process by selecting the next group you wish to set aside money for and so on.

Christmas Season is not meant to be stressful it is meant to spend time with friends and family and enjoy their company. These Christmas shopping budget strategies are there to help alleviate some of that stress and give you additional avenues to explore when setting a budget.

Do you have any Christmas shopping budget strategies that work well for you?

Photo by: IainFarrell



This article is written by Christopher at This That and the MBA. He writes about personal finance and any topic related to finance. One motto that he has tried to embrace recently is “Mange your money before it manages you!”


    • says

      It does make it much easier…I have set up something like that, I make the money leave one account and move over to my christmas fund account at another bank. Bank accounts are so easy to set up now I just set one up for christmas the money is automatically withdrawn throughout the year and similar to my 401k its gone before I know it.

  1. Jamie Dickinson says

    Plan and budget! I also have a list, a present ide and rough cost of the gift in mind and jotted down somewhere. Otherwise things get out of control easily and before you know it you’ve spend far more than you intended!

  2. says

    I think the biggest thing that has helped me over the years is setting a budget for each person I am getting a gift for. That way I know exactly how much my “max spend” is going to be before I even start shopping.

    • says

      Do you write it down or do you have just a ball park in mind? Adjusted for inflation lately…sheesh everything is so darn expensive…I got a laptop in the mail yesterday wow it is made so cheaply compared to my old one where it actually felt like something of quality in my hand..

  3. says

    Trying to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to gift buying seems so ridiculous, especially if it puts you in debt. I know it still happens, but in my neck of the woods people are really cutting back this Christmas and focusing on time together as a family which has been a nice breath of fresh air. Hoping this becomes a trend across the country.

  4. says

    We’ve spent the same amount of money on our family members for years. That makes it easy! This year, I told a lot of people that we don’t need any gifts, but if they have to get us something, we’d rather they spend it on our kids. No one listens to us, though! 😉 Oh well, at least we already budgeted for the gifts!

  5. says

    Lately, a good strategy for me has been going on with other people on combined gifts. That lets us get someone (usually a family member) a larger gift that they might make more use of, but also tends to reduce the individual contribution of each person. A win-win situation!

  6. says

    I love the idea of setting aside money for people you may have forgotten. Or people who unexpectedly give you something and you’re like, “Shoot, I left yours at my house,” when really you’ve got nothing.

  7. says

    My main Christmas budgeting strategy involves setting average gift cost limits (say, $10 for kids or $20 for adults), then being flexible within those guidelines. For instance, if I have to buy two gifts for sister’s kids, and I spend $6 on one child, then I give myself up to $14 to spend on the other kid. That way I’m not forcing myself to stay within an arbitrary spending range when one perfectly good gift costs very little but I really want to spend a bit more on the other one.

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