Christmas Shopping in Review: How much did I actually spend this season

It’s been a month since Christmas. Honestly, I expected this post to have been completed much earlier, but somehow the new year just got out from under me. I started the holiday season off well-prepared and armed with a financial plan. It started off great but eventually spiraled out of control… it’s always the last-minute shopping that gets expensive. Time for a 2016 Christmas breakdown.

Total spent on gifts: $796
That’s for 20 people, meaning I spent an average of $39.80 per person this season. Hot damn.

I’m counting a total of 7 people under family, and 13 under friends. I  counted a white elephant exchange gift under the friends category, even though I didn’t know exactly who would be getting it at the time. Since I’m data-minded and I like to look at a breakdown across multiple variables, here’s what some of the distributions look like.

Spending distribution by group:
Friends – $402, or $30.92 per person
Family – $394, or $56.29 per person.

Spending distribution by month:
October – 36%
November – 21%
December – 43%

It’s extremely easy to spend money on people you care about. Before sitting down and doing all the numbers, I actually thought that I had managed to stick to my holiday budget of $600, as outlined in my previous post of shopping on a budget. It was really the last-minute gifts that messed me up. I spent $108 on last-minute presents for my boyfriend and my brother, which was a lot of money. I also may have showered a little too much love on my little sister, who was the second most expensive recipient this season, with $75 of gifts. (The most expensive was my mom, at $85, but that woman raised me and deserves to be showered with love and attention as long as I live.) Next year, I am absolutely cutting down on spending.

That said, I still think that sitting down last October and actually planning out gifts for people made a huge difference in my gifting strategies. I put much more thought into each person (which I believe is the whole point), and I got better quality gifts, but often on sale because I knew what I wanted and had the time to purchase it. I don’t even want to think about how much I potentially spent in 2015 – good thing there’s no easy way for me to back into it!

Another thing I did this season that I am especially proud of – I made my own cards and gift bags. I can’t justify the cost of spending $2 on a card, $3 on a bag, and $5 on 5 pounds of tissue paper. Instead, I spent $16 at Michael’s getting cardstock and patterned paper bags. It made gift packing much easier, and the cards were way more personal.

Christmas shopping may have been a budgeting failure, but it was a gift-giving success…

…just help me make sure I don’t spend nearly as much next year.