Holiday Expenses~plan now with our budget spreadsheet

piggy bankIt’s the last day of September, that means Christmas is less than 90 days away! So let’s talk about the holidays–all of them. Think about the next six months or so–from Halloween through Valentine’s Day. Think about how many holidays and occasions are in that time frame. And nothing sabotages a household budget faster than unplanned holiday expenses. It’s still September, so take some time to plan. Look at your budgets and plan how much you’re going to spend. Keep in mind, that holiday budgets isn’t just about gifts. Lots of families make that mistake, but there are some many other incidental purchases that occur (like holiday cards and stamps) that really add up!

When you see this huge list, it might seem overwhelming. Just take it one holiday at a time and plan realistically. It will avoid much stress & disappointment later. There is even a holiday budgeting spreadsheet for you to use at the bottom. NOTE: You will NOT be able to edit it until you do “make a copy.”  Go to—>File—>Make a copy. Then save it for yourself. My copy that is published is read only. If you mess up the formulas, come back and grab a clean copy.



  • costumes
  • candy for home & school & workplace & other community events (scouts, church, etc.)
  • a day or outing at a pumpkin patch or orchard
  • cards (hey, some people do them!)
  • decorations, including pumpkins for carving, mums for the porch, etc.

You can see how something like Halloween can easily cost a family a few hundred dollars or more, so plan for it!


  • food
  • alcohol
  • decorations-and think top to bottom-everything from tableware to candles to carpet cleaning
  • any family outings or traditions you do, like a family picture
  • school things like Thanksgiving dinners
  • put aside some for food banks
  • travel expenses to see family


  • gifts; ok, not trying to be Captain Obvious, but think about EVERYONE you give gifts to. Babysitters, teachers, therapists, mail carriers, garbagemen (yes, I do), babysitters, music/extracurricular teachers & coaches, work, spouse’s work, hairdresser and so on and so on. Set a limit!
  • food; again-think about ALL the extra parties & events you’ll be purchasing food for-work, school, book clubs, civic groups, family gatherings, scouts, kids’ extracurricular stuff,
  • cards, photos, postage
  • clothing for special occasions
  • decorations
  • year end donations
  • babysitters for extra social events you have
  • spending money for week between Christmas & New Year’s-when kids don’t have school & usually families do things
  • any mini vacations or travelling you will do to see family
  • school fundraisers
  • any adopt-a-family or similar efforts you participate in

New Year’s & January football-

  • food
  • alcohol
  • decorations
  • extra cable packages or electronics
  • clothing
  • betting pools
  • babysitter for nights out

Valentine’s Day-

  • cards-home/family
  • cards-school/community
  • candy
  • flowers
  • jewelry
  • dinner out
  • babysitter

Here is how the spreadsheet looks. As it appears here, you cannot add to it or change it–that’s to protect it and keep the formulas intact. However, use the hyperlink earlier in the post to access it. When it appears after you click that link, go to file—make a copy, and save your own copy of it. That one you can edit. Then, if you mess up and accidentally erase some formulas, come back and grab it again. It will tally all of your expenses for you and keep a running total of how your budget is doing.


  1. thanks for the stradigy , i try to get things ahead of time, especially if they are on sale. what a joy,
    but i have 12 grands, so instead of thnking of oh i got 12 gifts, i keep the idea in mind now of one at a time and the stress is less. thanks again

    • Have you seen my posts on “shopping in reverse?” It’s all about shopping ahead of time when things are on sale, rather than when you need them. I’ll go find the link and put it in the post.

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