What I Spend on Christmas: The 41-year-old newly back-to-work mum earning €45k who plans to spend €250 on Santa gifts
The average Irish family spends €2,700 over the festive season, but what about the savers and splurgers? As part of our financial series, we speak to a mum of small children about her Christmas spending
“I’ve had three children in just five years so this is the first year that I’m back earning and I’m hugely appreciative of the extra funds. My children are still quite small so we can get away with not spending a fortune on them this Christmas. I’ve a large family so we just do Secret Santa for every adult and every child.
After the blur of the last five years, I’m trying to focus on myself a little more. I’m usually quite sensible with my cash, as we’ve had to be. Even more so than my partner, to be honest.
Because I’m just newly back to work I don’t get a bonus, but I heard that we get vouchers (€150) for popular shopping centres like Dundrum which will really help towards the Secret Santa gifts.
We have savings but they are in a separate education fund we keep aside for the children. We put our child benefit in there every month along with €100 each too. I wouldn’t dip into this just for Christmas.
We are also not the type to max out a credit card, especially on gifts. I think so many people get carried away around this time of the year and then the stress hits come January. We won’t be part of that.
For family/siblings Secret Santa we have a €50 budget. It means all the adults get something really special and the kids get a seriously good gift. I like the idea that they can appreciate getting something so lovely from a family member. It means we, as a family, spend €200 on extended family gifts but we all get something really great.
My husband will be my biggest extravagance but it will also benefit me! I’m taking him away to a nice hotel for a night for New Year’s Eve. Our family will pitch in as they understand it has been so hectic for us over the past few years. I won’t feel guilty because I think it will be really important to spend time together without the kids. It is a great way to start the New Year — we’ll make some plans for the year ahead, relax and refresh.
I’ve no idea what he will get me. I am ready to spend a little more on myself going forward so I’d love a facial, a Fitbit or a new bike for cycling to work. (I’ve dropped loads of hints but we love the element of surprise). I don’t know people at work really yet so I won’t be giving them gifts. We will spend about €250 on Santa gifts; €150 on godparents’ presents and, for the other side of the family, we will spend €150 on theatre tickets. We spend about €10 for each class teacher at school for the children.
We will spend €70 on a tree. We have all our old decorations and I don’t buy any extra Xmas décor. The kids love putting up their drawings/Christmas paintings from playschool.
I’ve booked two blowdries, one for a night out with the girls and another before we go away for the night (€55). My highlights fell in good time for Christmas so I don’t need them done again. I will re-wear a dress from my wardrobe – I’ve loads from last year that only got one wear or so. It would be silly to go out and buy another one. My sisters and I are around the same size so we swap clothes sometimes.
We are going to my parents for Christmas day so I’ll make a big trifle and bring a bottle of Champagne (€40). We do a few mini shops on the lead up to the big day so we have things ourselves for a nice breakfast, mince pies for guests and lots of chocolates for vegging out in front of the TV. We probably spend €130 on this.
As well as the €250 we plan to spend on Santa gifts, we are spending €90 to bring them to a Santa experience. It is the same one we go to every year (we don’t want to confuse them by changing it) and it is brilliant. We think it is worth it and we treasure the photo we bring home from it each year. We don’t go to the panto – they are too small still and I think it is overpriced.
My girls’ night out will cost about €120 and my husband’s will cost about €90. We go for dinner, he goes to pubs! One of us usually drives for the family nights out as we don’t drink a huge amount. Taxis will cost us about €25 otherwise as we live close to town.
For us, Christmas isn’t about going out and going wild anymore. It is about starting new traditions with our family. It is about the children’s faces on Christmas morning. Things are so different than they were five years ago.
It really does all add up when you look at it like this! But I don’t think we are hugely extravagant. I’ve friends who will easily spend double that amount. They have about 10 different nights out. Maybe we’ll get back to that kind of Christmas when the children are older and more independent.
We are saving for a house extension in the next 18 months too so we can’t afford to splash out anymore. We can only push it to this amount because I’m back at work now. We work hard for our money, we have a mortgage and three children so it is all about prioritising the right stuff and not getting stressed.”
This article was originally published in December 2019