Christmas 2013 Recap

It seems that every year Kyle and I try a slightly different approach to Christmas gifts shopping, but our choices this year didn’t work out so amazingly.  (I’m still waiting for my giving revolution, y’all.)  The first year we were married, 2010, was a disaster because we spent way too much money and made the whole event stressful.  In 2011, we instituted a per-person spending cap that was very successful in keeping the whole affair from getting out of hand, but we still bought most gifts from Amazon.


This year we bought gifts off Amazon for our immediate family members (yay Prime student membership!) but we did something a little different for the extended family members.  We gave each person/family unit the same gift – an Awkward Engineer Cookie Dunkr cup and a bag of chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.


I’m friends with the Awkward Engineer; we’ve been hearing about the cookie dunkr cup for months and we thought it was terribly clever and would make a great small gift for anyone who eats cookies.  So we bought 28 in a variety of colors and Kyle’s mom gave them out for us (this was a Christmas-with-Emily’s-parents year).


The chocolate-covered peanut butter balls took quite a bit of effort to make over two days.  We had to borrow some kitchen equipment, spent more than I thought we would on the ingredients, and made over 450 balls in total.  We shipped 300 off to Kyle’s family and gave out the rest at various parties and to my family members.  Unfortunately, the balls did not travel well and got a bit melted and squished.  I’m sure they tasted just as good, but the presentation left something to be desired, especially for Kyle as he’s a perfectionist about the chocolate coating.  I think in the future we’ll only make these when we are handing them out locally.


dipping peanut butter balls in chocolate


This was a difficult gifting year for us.  Usually, I lead the charge for my family making wish lists so we all have an idea of what to buy one another.  This year, I really couldn’t think of anything I wanted, aside from some rain boots.  Thankfully, most of my family members had at least one item they wanted, and we mixed in some surprises as well.  But overall it was a low spending year for us.


We came in under budget in all of our gift recipient categories, and only exceeded our per-recipient limit for one person.  We also attended a party with a White Elephant event at the last second, so we added in a gag gift.


christmas 2013 spending


Overall, we came in under budget by $55.  If we leave it alone, that money will stay in our Travel and Personal Gifts account.  We’re still debating donating part or all of that money as we have in the past – I don’t want to “reward” ourselves for spending less than we expected on other people, if that makes sense.


How did your holiday spending match up against your budget?  Did your gifts go over well this year?


Written by

Filed under: family, food · Tags: ,

13 Responses to "Christmas 2013 Recap"

  1. Ashley says:

    That cookie dunking cup is BRILLIANT! And YUM I love those choco/pb balls! My mom makes them every Christmas (she calls them buckeyes?). I did pretty well with spending this year. I haven’t added it up yet but I feel like it was reasonable 🙂
    Ashley recently posted..Christmas Recap

    1. Emily says:

      I haven’t heard them called buckeyes, but I also never encountered them before I met Kyle. Maybe buckeyes is a regional name?? Good job on keeping Christmas reasonable this year! I almost felt like we underspent, actually.

  2. I came in under budget this year. My family goes the secret santa route. It is very economical and fun. I highly recommend it.
    Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted..In Depth: cuStudent Loan Consolidation Review (Credit Union Student Loans)

    1. Emily says:

      I’m jealous of your Secret Santa organization. I have been told that as an in-law it’s not my place to critique Kyle’s family’s traditions. And my MIL is so generous she would never agree to not buy everyone gifts!

  3. MITM says:

    I love it!
    We got off the crazy gift train about 4 years ago with a gift category in our “Bucket Budgeting” method. Essentially we estimate all our gifts for the whole year by category and assign a standard amount to each. For instance, we list all the birthdays, weddings, graduations, holidays, etc that we can think of. Then we add a bit for once we probably forgot. Right now we have $30 assigned to birthdays and $50 to weddings, etc. Then we add it all up, divide by 12 and set aside that much in the “gift” bucket each month. Sometimes it dips a bit negative and other times it gets pretty high, but overall it covers us pretty well and doesn’t make our monthly spending volatile.

    The best part is that we can give freely because we’ve trained ourselves to set aside the money each month before we need it. There isn’t that emotional pang of buying a gift at the expense of your financial goals.
    MITM recently posted..November Financial Update

    1. Emily says:

      We started with out targeted savings accounts about three years ago as well and I love it! Our personal gifts savings is combined with our travel savings account because it used to be virtually all for weddings, but we should split them into travel and Christmas/birthday/wedding/baby shower gifts like you do. I also enjoy that freedom to give without remorse!

  4. I figure any year you can come in under budget for gifts is a pretty good one. And that’s a ton of desert making you did! The taste is all that matters, anyway, so good on you for that.

    We, in true American fashion, went over budget for gifts this year. By around $55 dollars, too. So if you wanted to mail that our way…;)
    Done by Forty recently posted..The Irrationality of Fantasy Football

    1. Emily says:

      $55 over isn’t terrible. Did you buy gifts from stores or make your own or both?

      1. All the gifts were purchased this year, and that’s okay. I’m not crafty or any good at baking. This was a time for outsourcing.
        Done by Forty recently posted..The Irrationality of Fantasy Football

        1. Emily says:

          I’m not craftsy either and I rarely bake. Kyle is the one who does those things in our family!

  5. Sara says:

    We didn’t set a budget for gifts this year because L feels strongly about getting his family exactly what they ask for (hard to predict), but we ended up spending about $200 for my family and $300 for his – probably what we would agreed to if we did budget a particular amount. My dad’s side buys basic items (towels, toothbrushes, gloves, etc) for a shelter each year instead of doing gifts and that was another $25.

    We were both straining for ideas of what we wanted so we chose not to exchange gifts this year.

    1. Emily says:

      It’s funny how different families have different preferred gift-giving modes. I like the idea of collecting items to give, especially when you really need nothing yourself!

  6. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Christmas 2013 Recap – We came in under budget for our Christmas spending this year, although one of our gifts did […]

Leave a Reply


CommentLuv badge