I just found out that purchasing and renting all the presents mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” will now cost you more than $100,000. This is the first year the total has broken that marker. (For some horrifying holiday fun, visit the PNC Christmas Price Index.)
All I could think is that I’m lucky that my daughter doesn’t actually want five golden rings.
We’ve finally reached the time of year when decorations and carols are appropriate, rather than appalling. Many of my friends and family slept off their Thanksgiving dinners in a power-nap preparation to head out at midnight for Black Friday sales. I’m more the Cyber Monday kind of shopper. But even if you’re a throughout the year stockpiler, if you have kids, you’ve probably spent quite a bit of money on the holidays already. And there is only more to come in the next few weeks.
My mom and her husband are spending the holidays in Redmond . In return for not spending Christmas morning at Disneyland or in Hawai’i, I have agreed to actually get out the house and do the Seattle area holiday things. This is breaking my preferred pattern of hot cider and the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. It is also breaking the bank.
The Argosy Christmas boats. The PNB Nutcracker. A trip to the American Girl store. Ice skating. Pictures with Santa. A trip to a Christmas tree farm.
Ka-ching. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.
And that doesn’t even count the presents. I used to be a stockpile shopper, gloatingly done with holiday shopping on October. Now, my daughter’s tastes change so much and so fast that I don’t dare buy anything more than a month in advance or I chance hearing a lovely chorus on Christmas morning of, “Oh, mom. I don’t like that anymore. That’s for babies.”
So I’ll be doing frantic holiday shopping online over the next 23 days. And instead of carols, I’ll be hearing the sweet sound of my bank account emptying.
I’m staying sane because I know I am within my budget limits. No matter what my daughter turns out to want this year, I know that it won’t cost me more than a specified amount, because it can’t. That number written on that line is non-negotiable. I used to allow myself to take money out of other categories when I went over on one, but that flexibility had to go bye-bye when we ended up eating ramen for the whole last week of a month because I had spent the food budget on entertainment.
So when I run out of “Holiday Spending” money, I have to find the cheap cheer.
Fortunately, we have a lot of that around here. is coming up this weekend, and all that fun is completely free. (Stay out of my way for the candy cane hunt, though. I’m serious.) starts Friday night at Bell Square, and all that fun is completely free, too, if you can avoid spending money at the mall. Driving Candy Cane Lane just costs the gas.
I also have more in my holiday spending pot this year because of online couponing. There have been discounts this season on nearly everything. Boats, Nutracker, tree farms; you could do your whole holiday season this way. Many of our trips will begin with me handing over a printed out voucher that makes it possible for us to keep doing more.
But I also want to keep in mind doing less. I asked my daughter for her favorite holiday memory. While losing her tooth in a Disneyland ride line on Christmas Eve last year was the first thing she mentioned, you know what the second one was?
Hot chocolate and a Harry Potter movie marathon.
See? Laziness pays for itself.