- buy most of the Christmas presents, including figuring out what to buy for about half our list
- taking pictures for the Christmas card, then creating it, ordering it, picking them up, addressing, and mailing
- finishing decorating the tree
- wrapping presents
- figuring out shipping for presents for TX. Is it better to ship from the stores or to gather and ship ourselves?
- Making cookies. I'm going to try cookie cutters for the first time! But that means I need to buy a rolling pin.
- Washing new clothes to wear on Christmas
- Packing for the trip to my parents (not until a couple days before, but still, needs to get done)
I do 90% of the shopping for the household. I buy Natalie's clothes, toys, and books. I do the food shopping most of the time. I keep track of most of the household items we need (like trash bags and air freshener). And even if Mike and I go to the store together, we pay using my card. We started this because I got cash back and he didn't, but we've stayed with it even though he now has a rewards card. The problem with this is that I feel guilty about spending too money, even though I really don't spend much on things that aren't necessary. Mike pays the bills. So, he will tell me that my credit card was high, I feel guilty about it, then he tells me its not a big deal because we have plenty of savings, but we need to keep an eye on it because we are trying to have me not go back to work for a while yet. We have this conversation almost every month.
I try not to spend extra money. I put away for Natalie for her birthday and Christmas almost all the clothes I've bought her and I haven't bought her any toys besides a pack of crayons since before her birthday. And as far as buying things for myself, well, I usually don't. I might buy a pair of cool socks or a nail polish or something every once and while. In fact, I was thinking about it the other day, and I think this is what I've bought for myself in terms of clothes in the last year and a half: one bathing suit, one pair of jeans, one hoodie, nursing bras, 3 packs of underwear, three tanks tops, one pair of pj pants, one pair of sneakers (those were expensive though), and three long sleeve shirts. All but the shoes were purchased at Walmart.
Anyway, I want to do a good job with gift giving, but I know I'm not supposed to over spend. Its the hardest with Mike and Natalie. I bought for their stockings yesterday and that cost well over $50, and that's not including $18 for replacement razor blades for Mike! The problem with stockings is that Mike and I have different philosophies on what can go in them. I personally think that it is okay to take toothpaste and deodorant and such out of the bathroom closet to put in his stocking. Mike doesn't think that 's okay, but doesn't know what's in there so he doesn't really notice that I do it every year. I also don't think most of what goes into a stocking should count towards a budget total. I mean, you are going to buy most of those things anyway, its just a matter of when.
We also had this discussion over items for Natalie. If I was going to put new toddler size spoons in her stocking, should that count towards her total? That doesn't seem fair to me. I would have bought them anyway, but just wanted her to have a nice full stocking, so why not throw them in there? Mike is of the mind that if it is in there it should count or else don't include it.
Since we already purchased Natalie's big gift (a basketball hoop) back before her birthday, I have $50 to work with for her. She needs some warmer clothes. She has long sleeve shirts and pants, but not enough warm pants or sweatshirts. Buying three sweatshirts and three pairs of pants has used up more than half the money. Then I got her some books very cheap and some other small things and we are almost out of money! And that doesn't include the stocking items I bought for her yesterday, things like goldfish crackers and baby lotion and toothpaste. Now, of course Natalie doesn't know the difference, but I feel like there should be a toy or two more in there. Something fun and exciting for her to explore on Christmas morning. I'm sure that she will get some things from our family, but that is part of the problem. When my family spends so much money on her, I worry that it looks a little bad that we don't spend as much on her ourselves. Anyway, I've managed to aliveate that feeling a little by looking through my old toys again. I managed to find her a few small things as well as a baby doll like the ones she likes at play group.
The solution is in the end is going to be that what Mike doesn't know won't hurt him, which is the same thing I've done for years with stockings. I just don't add up the stocking money to the total, unless it is something that is a "toy" and over a couple dollars. That really is the only way to get a good gift and a good stocking on the budget we have. When I say "good" here, I mean not only qaulity, but also quanity. Mike doesn't get much from my family to open on Christmas morning, just one thing from each person usually. But the rest of my immediate family usually have lots of little things to open. To make sure that Mike isn't sitting there feeling a bit sad thinking of the old days at his parents' house, I always spread things out as much as I can. I wrap up as much seperatly as I can and I say its from the three cats and from Natalie. Its hard to do all that if a quarter of my budget is gone on toothpaste and razor blades!