The last candle of Chanukah has been lit, and the dreidle has spun its last shin. But before I pack up our chanukiot, I thought I’d take a moment to count our gelt — or rather, how much gelt we spent on gifts.
As a rule, our Chanukah celebrations are modest — both because that’s what seems right from a Jewish perspective and also because its what we can afford to do.
For us, our budget for all gifts was $50. $50 means out of my pocket. If I spent Swagbucks or gift cards, I don’t count that — because it wasn’t money I had to come up with. In fact, if you’re not Swagbucking already, I HIGHLY recommend it as it saves me a bundle when it comes to family gift-giving.
Also, let me just throw in a plug for annual budgeting of family gift expenses. We save a rather modest $15 per month to a separate savings account (we save online at ING — but you could also do a cash envelope, since the interest we’re earning on $180/year is really negligible.) That $180 covers all of our birthdays, Chanukahs, afikomen gifts, etc. for the five of us — plus any presents we buy for extended family members as well.
This year, we bought gifts for my mom, my dad & stepmom, and my inlaws. We also bought gifts for our three kids — for four out of the eight nights. (They received gifts from their grandparents the other four nights.)
So, let’s see how we did. Here is the breakdown gift-by-gift (gift recipients — stop reading!):
Parents / Inlaws
Everyone got photo gifts, purchased through Snapfish with a 30% off code and free shipping (no longer available). The totals below are with the discount, but without the Ebates cash back.
Mom – Photo calendar from Snapfish – $7.53. Plus, my boys gave her a pretty little toiletry bag with a body puff and three travel size containers of body lotion, bath wash and bubble bath. We picked it up at CVS on 90% clearance several weeks ago. It cost $.79.
Dad & Stepmom – Photo calendar from Snapfish – $7.53. Plus, the boys made art projects in school that they gave to them.
In-laws – 100-piece photo puzzle (a picture of them with the kids) — the perfect gift for my mother-in-law, especially, who loves puzzles! – $10.54.
I realize that next year, we might have to raise our budget — or get more creative — as my daughter will be 2.5 and we probably won’t be able to get away with not giving her gifts on most nights.
Gift #1 – Each kid got a giant bag of pretzel M&Ms. They loved it! Even my 18 month was all, “Me! Me! Me!”. Each bag cost $.25 at Walgreens a few weeks ago.
Gift #2 – DS1 got a Transformer costume, picked up at Target on after-Halloween clearance. It cost $2.90. To say he loves it would be an understatement. DS2 got the ToyStory3 DVD — a gift that truly gave back, as we all enjoyed a wonderful family movie night Motzei Shabbat. It cost us nothing, since my husband “bought” for it with a gift card he won to Best Buy.
Gift #3 – All three kids got photo flip books made at Snapfish. I put together 20 pictures of each kid throughout the year – from the first days of school to Purim to goofing off in the backyard. Each book cost $5.25 including shipping.
Gift #4 - Board games. DS1 got the APBA Pro Baseball Board Game, which he loves to play with my husband on Shabbat afternoons. It would have cost us $21.02 at Amazon, but with Swagbucks, it was FREE. DS2 got Cooties, which I picked up for $2 at the Toys R Us sale on Hasbro games a few weeks ago.
Total spent for Chanukah 2010/5771: $47.79 – 5.38 =$42.41
Gotta love coming in almost $8 under my $50 budget!
So, how’d you do this Chanukah? Did you stay within your budget? Do you use gift cards, Swagbucks or cash-back sites like Ebates to stretch your savings even further?
P.S. This year my husband and I didn’t exchange Chanukah gifts. My husband did treat himself with a Best Buy gift card he had won some time ago to a BluRay player, which he’s pretty stoked about since we had been watching movies on our very-small screen portable DVD player for the last two years! Since there was nothing I needed — or wanted, I was happy to enjoy giving rather than receiving this year.