11 Things to Include in Your Holiday Budget Planning



It’s Christmas time! Do you have sugar plums dancing in your head or are you like me and the only thing dancing in your head is the list with items needing their “check”?  Can’t go to sleep to wait for Santa because of the darn sleigh bells ringing, I mean, cash registers dinging large holes in my holiday budget plan!


We make a budget, every year, and inevitably something comes up that throws my beautiful red sleigh into a frosty tailspin and sometimes so completely off course even Rudolph himself can’t get the darn thing back on track. Usually it’s school or friend related and brought to my attention last minute by my little elves, or work related and brought to me by Papa elf (my husband).


This year though, this year, will be different. I am planning on miscellaneous and we shall see if maybe just one night, Christmas Eve, when it’s all said and done that little magical gold-dusted hoof prints might “stamp” their seal of approval on my holiday budget. Am I up to the task? Are you?


Here are 11 things to consider for your holiday budget:


Gifts – that includes a spending limit set for each person on the list: each child, each adult family member, gifts from Santa, coworkers/neighbors/teachers/friends gifts, and admittedly we include our pets.


Stocking Stuffers – my Grandma started this tradition way back when and I won’t let it die. This micro-budget includes small stocking stuffers for our immediate family.


Christmas Cards – this is something my husband completely does not believe in, but I am one to argue that point. Maybe I’m just nosey, but we have so many military friends all over the world and I love to see what everyone is up to. We send a picture card each year and so we include the cost of the cards plus postage.


Decorations – we have all of our major things, but we do add a budget for one indoor/outdoor holiday décor item per year, any Christmas light maintenance, and a yearly ornament.


Christmas Eve Pajamas – also a Grandma tradition, this micro-budget includes a spending limit for pajamas for the four of us.


Entertainment – we budget a new Christmas music CD every year and sometimes a game to play on Christmas Eve. Additionally, depending on the timing and location we may have a holiday activity that we go do or we also might include a holiday party for friends & unit members in this micro-budget.


Travel – we are a military family, so you know travel has to be included. Sometimes it’s just gas and food/snacks and other times it might be flights or hotel nights along the route, just depends on where we are located at the time.


Cookies – I am the family baker for two families and so baking supplies must be budgeted.


Food & Beverages – when the holiday celebration lands at our home we must include a micro-budget for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners as well as meals and drinks for family during their stay.


Wrapping Supplies – we take measures to try to minimize this cost by wrapping in fun ways (like in comic strips or butcher block paper), but it still needs to be counted.


Miscellaneous – this year we are including a stipend amount for those things that fall over budget as a buffer. It’s not huge, but it is there if we need it.


The important part that I have learned after years of doing a holiday budget is that you must know your habits, your limits, and really look at what you wish for your holiday to be. For some things like tradition, it might really be what they want; sometimes it’s all about the presents. Some years the budget might be tighter and things have to go that other years may have been an easy spend. Be honest and transparent with where you are and what you can spend. Happy Holidays!


Have something to add? Share your advice in the comments!

Limitless Contributor
You forgot the most important one. Don't do business with USAA. Throwing my money away on USAA for the last thirty plus years only to be treated as garbage when they should be treating me with respect (like responding to postings in less than 10 days and counting), would've been good advice. "Member" is no longer in USAA's vocabulary. If you have USAA, pray to g_d you never really need them.
Guest Author
Guest Author


Thank you for being honest with your thoughts and sharing your reply. I'm very sorry you feel the way you do and would like to help. Unfortunately, being a member community manager I do not have access to your member information. I'm not sure exactly what the issue is or how to resolve it but I would appreciate if you would contact a member services representative by clicking here to provide USAA with additional detail and your member information. You can also reach a service specialist at 1-800-531-8722. We hope to hear from you soon. 

Limitless Contributor
Tara, I can't get past the initial rep. I'm stonewalled. I've asked for complete copies of all of my policies (I have several after being with USAA for 30+ years), and it falls on deaf ears. No one responds. I said to my claims rep that I was challenging a bill, but it was paid anyway. And the worst thing about it, was that the document submitted by the "provider" had a signature that looked like the worst forgery I've seen. Does Dianna and Diane look like the same name to you? No wonder insurance costs are so high. I try to help keep fraud down, but I'm fighting a losing battle. Doing everything through the app is more difficult and a time wasting endeavor. I'm so fed up.
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Guest Author


I'm sorry it has taken me a few moments to get back with you. I'm also sorry to hear about  your interaction with member services not going well. Let's try another route. Please email [expired email] and include a member or claim number and situation/concern. This will hopefully help solve the issue. 

Thank you!