Advice from you: Christmas Shopping

Lately, Hubs and I have had a lot of discussions revolving around Christmas shopping. I love to give and get gifts. He doesn’t care that much for either. Still, he respects and enjoys sharing in my joy at this part of the holidays even if he doesn’t understand why I love it so much. But we have lots of unanswered questions…

1. How do we decide how much to spend on gifts for each other? Should we set an amount limit and divide it up into gifts how we each please? What if 1 person uses all the money on one nice gift and the other buys 10 little ones? Is it better to not worry about the cost and get the same amount of presents to unwrap? We’ve decided on a combination of both I think, but are still considering the money limit. After all, we’re newlyweds and trying to save as much money as possible.

Wyatt likes to wrap gifts in newsprint. I appreciate that about him. These are his gifts to me a couple years ago. And one from me.

2. How do we decide how much to spend on gifts for others? Same system? Another way?

3. When do we open our presents for each other since we’ll be traveling for the holidays? We want to start our own family traditions but aren’t sure when is the best time.

4. How do we (I) decorate without spending a lot on Christmas?

5. How do we fit a tree in our tiny apartment?

I love the Christmas season and I love thinking about the idea that we’re our own family now, and we’ll have our own traditions and ways to decorate, celebrate, and make it through this holiday, but there’s bound to be some growing pains as we both adjust.

I don’t think gift giving should be about the money or even about matching giving levels, but it’s hard to find the right balance the first time around. How do we figure out a good system without everything feeling too planned or too fussy?

Help!

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20 thoughts on “Advice from you: Christmas Shopping

  1. 1. Good question. Haha. Last year, Jeremy and I got one gift for each other, but we decided we wanted to do something different this year. We’re spending a little more and getting a little more. We’ll see how that works :) I love gift giving and getting, too!

    2. Our family members always say, “Don’t spend too much on us,” or “We don’t need anything.” But of course we want to get everyone something… It’s hard!

    3. Again…good question…

    4. I got a lot of stuff from my mom! (And I think you mentioned before that you’ve done the same…) Also, shop CLEARANCE after Christmas–Walmart, Gordmans…everywhere, really. I plan on doing that with more intensity this year.

    5. I wish I knew :( The only solution I know of is to get rid of essential furniture…and that just won’t work…

    In other words, I hear you, loud and clear…but isn’t this fun?! Even the challenges of Christmas make me happy. I love this time of year.

    • Love your answers and insight as a newlywed with a Christmas already under your belt for experience. Thanks for the comment, I’m happy to know I’m not alone in this! And I plan to shop clearance as well! (I’m sure Wyatt will be pleased…ha!)

  2. Bekka Denton

    Josh and I don’t set a limit. He already has three presents under our little tree and I have none. And honestly I don’t care if I get any from him. Spending time with him is more than enough of a present for me.

  3. cottlefish

    Erp – just tried to comment but was foiled. Sorry if you get this twice!

    We’re on our very first married Christmas, too, and had the same presents discussion.
    In the end, we’ve decided to just fill a stocking for eachother. In retrospect, I could get a stocking filled with diamonds ( ;) ) but the idea was that this meant we would each get small, thoughtful, probably low cost presents. (I asked for socks, a bike light and a 2012 planner, at various times…) We’re also making eachother our stockings. I’m not sure how I wound up with such an awesome cheeseball of a husband, but there you go!
    This might be helpful if you guys are traveling?
    Or, you could do a sort of mini couples advent calendar. For each day you’re traveling in the run-up to Christmas, you each open a small gift that could fit inside an advent calendar…?

    • I like the idea to bring our presents and open them on different days when we are traveling. Thanks for sharing! I so appreciate your comment!

  4. Mark Curley

    Hey it’s been long time since I’ve commented but I do read quite a bit of your stuff, I love your writing.

    So on the topic of presents what me and Jess like to do is open stuff :-) so we usually get each other something decent, wanted or needed. Something of higher value so to say. Then we just do some silly and quirky stuff cause we like tearing into stuff and making s big mess. It’s a tradition to have Santa stuff our stockings with solely dollar store items and individually wrap them. Just for more unwrapping. We also try to keep the numbers close to equal.

    Maybe this can spark an idea for ya.
    You should email me sometime, stay in touch

    Mark (Utah)

    • Hey! So good to hear from you! Glad to hear all is well, and thanks for the idea! We like unwrapping too, so hopefully that’s something we can do a lot of. Thanks for the comment!

  5. 1. We’ve done different things different years. We’ve never set a specific budget for our gifts for each other, but we both know how much money can be safely spent without going broke. :-) This year I had money set aside for quite a few months that I’ve been using to buy gifts for him when I find something I know he’ll like.

    2. We set a limit for other people’s gifts (not our boys…other family members). It’s not much, but I do enjoy the challenge of finding good thoughtful gifts and staying within budget. We set aside money throughout the year for gifts.

    3. We just open gifts Christmas morning. That’s what both of our families did and it seems to work for us. :-)

    4. Decorating takes a few years to work up a nice collection. I’ve found some great and cute decorations at thrift stores…typically after the holidays. I just store them for a year and bring them out again. :-)

    5. We eventually ended up paying a “fake” 5 foot tree for our last Christmas in our apartment. We set it up again last year even though we were in a house…it’s easier and a good height for our boys to decorate. :-)

    • Great ideas! Thanks for the comment! I appreciate all the advice and insight! I like the idea of setting aside money during the year. We might try that next year.

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  7. We get each other 3 gifts. Something funny, something romantic, and something we think the other person would like/useful. So my first year I got a snuggie, a necklace, and a 2-person sleeping bag. We try to keep it around $100 pp, since that is what works for us.
    If you want more to open, it might be a fun pre-Christmas date to go to the thrift store with a spending limit and get each other a random gift.

    We decorated one of our potted house plants and made lots of garlands and snowflakes from paper to decorate.

    • Great idea to decorate a plant! We don’t have anything big enough for that to work, but it’s a fun idea! And I like the idea of giving the gifts categories. I think that would really help! And I love the random gifts. And we love thrift stores! Especially antique ones! Thanks for the comment!

  8. jamierboyle

    I found your post really interseting because I find myself going through the same scenario. While I’m not a newlywed, living with boyfriend poses the same sets of issues.

    1.) We decided to set a limit on what to spend. It wasn’t outrageous but do-able. I could care less if I get anything from him, but more about spending time with him that matters. But we both enjoy the excitment of presents under the tree.

    2.) For others, that’s a tough one. We still are undecided on how to go about that ourselves!

    3.) We decided we wanted a time to open gifts when we were alone. Truthfully, we would rather have it that way so one family doesn’t miss out on seeing us open gifts vs. the others. Christmas morning, first thing is what we thought. What better than to wake up and open gifts from each other right away. And I know that once we start a family it may change, but at least we know that for now, this will be our tradition.

    4. & 5.) This is the one thing we struggled with. But we went to Hobby Lobby one day (if you don’t have one near you, something like a Michael’s, craft supply stores, etc). And they happened to have 50% off everything Holiday related. Just a few things to get us started, mainly ornaments, some lights for the windows, and a tree. In total we spent $90 (that’s a tree, ornaments, and lights). I did a lot of ad searching and checked out thirft stores too. I do agree that it will take years to build up a good collection, but this was enough to get us started. We live in a smaller sized apartment, and although we had room in one little corner for our tree, we did have to make a few moves. And we went small – I wanted a grand, enormous tree, but we settled with a little 5’5″ tree that gets the job done.

    And I agree with Melissa’s comment – this is all part of the fun in starting out and experimenting with what will work. Good luck to you!

    • Wow! Those are great tips! Thanks so much for sharing! I like the idea of not opening the gifts with one family vs. another one. That’s a smart point I might not have thought of. I also appreciate your story of Christmas decorating. It can be expensive, so I’m thankful for any advice to keep it more manageable. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. I only have a minute but I wanted to leave a quick reply about a Christmas tradition we started when we got married. A friend suggested this to me b/c her family does this every year: Christmas Eve pajamas. We open one gift on Christmas Eve and it’s always pajamas. It’s an easy one for the Husband who, early on, didn’t always know what to get me. And it’s a fun, cozy tradition that we can pass on to our kids one day.

    As far as other gifts, we don’t go crazy partially because we were trying to get out of debt the past two years and also because there’s not a whole lot we really “need”. Looking forward to hearing what you guys end up doing!

    • I love that idea! Not sure how it would work for us since Hubs doesn’t wear pj’s really. He’s more of a shorts and tshirt kinda guy. Maybe I could convert him though…although I usually just wear a comfy tank top or something myself. Hmm…
      Thanks for the idea though! I’ll keep it in mind!

  11. My hubby and I were married about a year and half ago. We got engaged on Dec 19th (that year it was the Saturday before my side of the family’s Christmas). So we have our “own” celebration on the weekend before that…we go out to eat where we went the night we got engaged. Gift-wise we kind of discuss it as we go along. :)
    I knew we had to think of a system RIGHT away for our gifts for others. Hubby and I have 10 nephews and nieces and if we even spent $10 on each, that’s a $100 alone just on kids for Christmas! Too much! So now we decide whatever sibling we have with kids, the whole family gets a $15 gift for all the kiddos. This year I’m making a homemade game for my sister (she has 4 boys–ages 6, 5, 3, and 1). Our sisters don’t mind and it’s only $45 for 10 kids now. :)
    For siblings we go around $20 and my siblings draw names now that there’s spouses. We sometimes all go together to get our parents something. Grandparents (we only have one living) and she just receives pictures from us. :)

    Hubby and I had a tree up last year but never celebrated an actual gift-opening Christmas here at the apartment and it’s so cramped….this year I didn’t put it up. We just have out nativity on top of the computer desk so I just had to move a few things. Enough for me! I love decorating (for anything most of all Christmas) but someday we’ll have more space where I can do that. Our nativity was a wedding gift and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on decorating a place we wont be at for much longer.

    Hope that helps….Merry Christmas! And remember most of all it’s important to spend time with family and friends…and cherish those moments!

    • Wow! Great insight! Thanks so much for the nice comment! We have a tree up (it takes up a lot of room, but I don’t think I could be without it…) and have started shopping but we aren’t too sure yet how our shopping will turn out. I like the idea of doing gifts for families, that could help a lot!

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