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.
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.
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?