Christmas Lists, Self-Discipline, and Budgeting

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Christmas Lists, Self-Discipline, and Budgeting…Which of these things is not like the other, which of these things does not belong?

Actually, they all work together in this post, and here is why.  One of the best ways to stick to a budget (more on budgets in the upcoming weeks!) is to avoid impulse buys.  Impulse buys happen when you see something and you think “I’ve got to have that!”  Unfortunately, too often you find out a few weeks later that you really didn’t need it after all.  In order to avoid the buyer’s remorse, it is wise to put these wants and needs onto your wish list and let them cool off for a little while.  Then, later in the year, you can reevaluate and decide if you still want the items or not.

Christmas is a wonderful season around our house!  We are blessed with family and friends who love to shower us with presents for birthdays and Christmas.  Their generosity is so appreciated!  Because of their generosity, we have learned that instead of impulse buying or buying for the sake of convenience we can put our wants and needs on lists. I literally start the next Christmas List in January. When we utter the words, “This would be nice to have” or “I want one of those” we put that item on a list. Then at different points during the year Nate and I sit down and look at the list along with our budget to determine whether that item can be bought now or has to wait until the next birthday or Christmas list. This helps me practice self-control and realize what is actually a need and what is just a desire. Some examples of how we save our wants and needs for Christmas lists are below to give you some ideas for your own lists.

We are fortunate that our families like lists and would prefer to have a list to start from. I understand that some people enjoy thinking up “the perfect gift.” If that is you or one of your family members, then this post might not be very helpful for you. But if your mind goes blank when someone asks you what to get you or your kids for Christmas we hope these ideas give you a good starting point.

 For the family:

  • Books: This is a weakness for all of us in the Hanson family: We love books!! We try to utilize the library during the year instead of buying them ourselves. We use Christmas and Birthdays to put our favorites or ones we would like to own on our list.  (Here are some.)
  • Movies: We try to think about ones that we have seen that we would like to own. We think about entertainment, kids and education ones that would be good for our family.  (Like Buck Denver!)
  • Games: We like to party and we like to have family time. We try to get a couple games on our list to give us something new to play. We have a mix between educational and fun ones for the kids.
  • Supplies: We try to see if we need any sleeping bags, sheets, blankets, bag chairs, or luggage and add them to our list.


For Nate:

  • Tools: We keep track of tools that would have been helpful to have, ones he borrowed from a friend or ones he will need for an upcoming project an add those to the list.
  • Outside/garden equipment: Things like tarps, rakes, shovels, gardening tools easily get broken or lost. We try to think of holes in our  that would be nice to fill.
  • Daily work clothes: Now this isn’t as exciting, but it will help the budget if some of his attire is given as gifts. White undershirts, shirts, ties and socks are a standard on Nate’s lists.  Belts and dressy gloves are on the list when they are looking worn and need to be replaced.


For Dana:

  • Kitchen: I try to think of some fun, new, not necessarily practical gadget that would be good to have.  Fun new towels and washcloths can also be a fun surprise.
  • Hobbies: I love to scrapbook, make crafts and make my kids’ birthday cakes. I try to look through my supplies and see what I am low on or what would add to my growing collection. Do I need more paper, a new stamp, more accessories for my Cuttlebug, a new cake tool, a glue gun, buttons etc?
  • Decorations: In my house, decorations would be in different categories between Nate and I J. These are great ideas to put on your list to add to your house décor.

For the Kids:

  • Toys: I try to keep track of what they are interested in all year, not just what recent ad in the paper or commercial they have seen. If I don’t do this all year, I forget about a really cool toy I have come across that they would actual play with and instead just come up with some idea out of the closest ad that doesn’t normally pan out.
  • Something educational: We think about areas that they need extra help in or areas that we want them to learn about. Then we try to find some toys, games, books, workbooks that go along with those ideas. Giving educational stuff as gifts starting at a young age will help instill a love of learning for your children that will last a lifetime.
  • Clothes: I try to think about what gaps I have in anyone’s wardrobe. Do they need a new coat, shoes, church clothes etc? These are some of the more expensive clothes items and the more specialty ones that might be fun for a grandparent to buy.
  • Craft supplies: crayons, markers, construction paper, glue, scissor, drawing paper etc all make great gifts and help replenish your stock.
  • Other seasons: It is hard to think about summer when there is snow on the ground but try to think about what you might need when the weather gets nice. Do you need a new bike for a taller kid, sports equipment, or beach towels?
  • For the baby: diapers, wipes, baby food and snacks. They don’t know the difference between a “fun” gift and a “practical” one so load their list up with needs instead of toys.

Stocking stuffers:

  • Undergarments: underwear, socks, tights, tank tops
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner
  • Bathroom supplies: brush, hair ties, barrettes, comb
  • Girly stuff: nail polish, lip gloss, lotion
  • Medical: Band-Aids, Tylenol, ibuprofen, allergy meds
  • Random: flashlight, pens, umbrella

Remember, life is an ultra-marathon, not a sprint!  You don’t have to ‘collect the whole set’ in one year…it is amazing how many tools and scrapbook supplies and games you can gather when you ask for a few things each year.

Of course some gifts are spontaneous and don’t come from the list, and those are wonderful too!  But we have found that purposeful Christmas lists is one way that we can cultivate self-control.  This fruit of the spirit will help you be rewarded at Christmas time with great presents under the tree.


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