10 Holiday Season Costs Everyone Always Forgets About

Holiday Season Costs

Holiday season costs are exorbitant, and should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been through the holiday season. From additional tips to babysitting fees to new ensembles and new hair and party costs, we often forget that there are a number of costs within our budgets that we don’t account for. It happens; we work hard to keep a budget on track for the holidays so that we don’t go overboard – as so many of us are prone to do. Unfortunately, it’s the little things that we often forget we are supposed to do that we do not do, and it’s not something we are very proud of at the end of the day. I cannot tell you how many times I forget that there are certain things I’ll pay for in December I never pay for otherwise, and every year I’m shaking my head at the fact that, once again, I blatantly forgot that there are so many things I have to pay for this time of year.

We know that holiday season costs revolve primarily around gifts. We pay for gifts for our kids, our friends’ kids, our nieces and nephews, our parents, grandparents, one another and even our mailman. We pay for gifts left and right, and we often forget a few people here and there – it happens to all of us. We forget, though, that there are older holiday season costs associated with this already expensive-enough time of year, and that can really bite the meticulous budgeter in the bottom if they’re not careful. Before you blow your budget on Santa’s gifts to your kids, here are a few often forgotten holiday season costs we all need to remember to add into the budget.

Hostess Gifts

One thing that many people often forget is that it’s considered rude to arrive to anyone’s home with an invitation and an empty hand. It’s always considered appropriate to bring with you a gift for your host/hostess considering the time, trouble and expense that they went through to host you in their home. Now, not all of us expect a gift when we invite our friends and family over for events, but that doesn’t mean it’s not any less required in most instances. While my husband and I never expect anyone to bring anything, everyone always does whether it’s a bottle of wine or an appetizer that we can all enjoy together, and we always do the same. With our closest friends and family, we will always ask if there is anything we can bring and if not, we will bring a bottle of something we can all enjoy. If it’s someone we don’t know as well, we will simply buy a nice bottle of wine and present that as a gift to the hostess upon arrival as a way of thanking her for having us in her home and hosting such a lovely (we hope) event.

With so many holiday events, it’s imperative to remember that all these people inviting you to their homes are facing that as a holiday season cost that is not typical for them, and it’s a nice gesture to thank them with a bottle of wine, a nice hostess gift basket or something else; it’s good manners and always appropriately appreciated by those who put so much time and effort into their gatherings.


Holiday season costs we all forget about every single year are big in the tip department. I always remember to tip my hair dresser well throughout the year, but I always remember to tip her extra well at Christmas since she is the woman doing my hair. However, I always forget about everyone else. I always forget that I’m supposed to tip my mail and package carriers and people of that nature.

The list of people who provide you with services throughout the year is a long one, so take a moment to think about who services you throughout the year. Do you have a regular babysitter, nanny, personal assistant, gardener, housekeeper, pool maintenance company or anyone of that nature? If you do, you are expected to provide them with a tip this time of year. This is a very hidden holiday season cost for many because we tend to forget about people we do not see on a regular basis. I know that in the year and two months I’ve lived in my house, I’ve only seen my mailman once – and I work from home so I’m here every single day. It’s easy to forget about him during the holidays since he’s not someone I see regularly.

Holiday Photos

Every single year I forget about this holiday season cost when I’m trying to figure out how much I’d like to spend throughout the holidays (a gesture my husband says is a waste of my time since I never stick to my budget, ever). There’s always this year, though, right? Yeah, no. Anyway, I always forget that this is a holiday season cost that has to be factored in when making a budget for December. Depending on how many people are in your family, where you want to have your photos taken, who is doing your photos, what you wear and how many you want, you might spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand – and that’s usually before you have your photos turned into holiday cards and have to stick stamps on them to mail them to your friends and family.

We’ve tried the $100 holiday mini sessions in the past to no avail, and we always end up spending far more on professional photos somewhere around our city that we love. But we always forget that I will go out and buy everyone a new outfit, new shoes, new accessories and the like so that adds a lot more to the expense of our everyday holiday season costs, too.

Christmas Trees

It’s the one thing that we always have every single year that we buy on the same day and have an actual tradition that follows, and I still forget to factor it into the budget. As a lover of a real, live Christmas tree, it’s something I should not forget. I live in Florida, so it’s not like I’m out cutting down my own tree in the middle of the forest, either. We are a two tree home because of the layout of our home. We have a grand room at the front of our house with beautiful 24-foot ceilings that’s just the most amazing location for a tree. It’s right in front of our big picture windows, and I like a huge, massive, ridiculous, beautiful tree right there (what? It’s 90 degrees here and I want to find Christmas somewhere, okay?).

Our family room, however, is at the back of the house and not near the big tree. That means I cannot see the big tree from many locations in my home, and I need to see a tree when I’m relaxing. That means we buy an average 9-10 foot tree for the other living room so we can see a tree from everywhere in our home. I forget about this holiday season cost every single year, and I honestly have no idea how or why I do that. It is a classic, iconic staple during Christmas, yet I always forget it. Unless you have a fake tree you store and remove from your attic every year, your Christmas tree is an expense that will sneak up on you during the holiday season. This holiday season cost is not an inexpensive one, either, as trees are several hundred dollars.


Every single year we forget to add décor to our list of holiday season costs. Why? Because we say we have plenty and we are not going to purchase more; then we purchase more. There are always instances in which we find that some of our décor did not make it through the year-long hiding place in storage. Wreaths are damaged, our tastes change, our lights no longer work. Perhaps we move into a larger home and find that we want more décor to make our home look as festive and spirited as possible. Whatever it is, we always forget to add new décor to our list of holiday season costs, and we always buy more.

Think about it; when was the last time you made it through a holiday season without buying additional décor for your home? Was it a new set of stockings because you added a new member to your family? Was it new lights to add to the exterior of your new home? Was it simply a new base stand for your tree? There are so many things that we forget to add to our budget during the holiday season in terms of décor because we often assume we need nothing new to decorate our homes. Don’t forget that holiday season costs sneak up on you when you are not prepared. Even if you think you need no more décor, go ahead and add a bit of a contingency in your budget for a bit more. It’s going to go a long way, I assure you.

Teacher Gifts

Yes; teacher gifts. Do you have kids? If you do, you have teachers to gift. This is something I forget every single year despite the fact that I have a complete Pinterest board dedicated to darling ideas for my kid’s teachers. I think the big problem here is that many people forget this particular holiday season cost because it’s not one that they ever think about in terms of someone on their Christmas list. However, it adds up quickly. I have four kids, two of whom are in school. Between the two of them, they have four teachers. If I limit myself to giving them each a $25 gift, that’s $100 right there. One day, I will have four kids in school and I’ll spend a lot more. And since my $25 gift every year comes in the form of a gift card that’s packaged adorably, it always costs more. For example, my daughter’s first grade teacher last year received a very sweet Starbucks mug from us filled with candy canes and Hershey Kisses, as well as a $25 gift card. The mug was $15 alone – so I spent more like $50 on her $25 gift.

Now let’s add that my kids also give all their classmates a gift. That’s 15 other kids per class, and that’s an expense that doesn’t seem like much, but always is. It’s always a personalized Etsy purchase for download, bags and bags of candy or treats and the supplies to turn them into Pinterest-worthy wins that I see throughout the year, forget about, remember the day before and stress myself out making the night before I have to take them to class with my kids.

It’s a never-ending cycle and it’s a holiday season expense we always forget we have. Parents; be prepared – and work early so that you don’t have to spend the evening before the last day of school prior to Christmas break stressing yourself out. Take it from my years of stress that it’s worth it to plan in advance.

Christmas Dinner

Ah, yes, the wonderful Christmas dinner. It’s the most wonderful meal of the year (it ties with Thanksgiving in my house) and it’s also the most prep-heavy meal of the year. Since my husband and I have the most kids of our siblings in our families, we also have the largest home and it’s just more convenient for us to host the holidays in our home. That means we make dinner (or my mom does…but at our house). That means we are in charge of buying all the food, the beverages, making a big breakfast for everyone and doing all that is involved in the prep of eating on the holidays.

That’s an expense we were not familiar with until last year when we spent $400 at the supermarket a few days before Christmas just to make dinner and breakfast and make sure there was enough wine for all that extended family togetherness. Now we know, and now we can plan for it a little bit better (like shopping early and not finding myself in the store with a million other people all shopping at the last minute). It’s a holiday season cost that we forget we have, and it’s one we don’t need to forget we have if we just plan ahead.

If you’re not hosting the holidays, you need not worry about it. However, it might do you well to add into your budget the cost of whatever sides or dishes you will bring with you wherever you go this holiday season. That’s an expense that adds up if you go to multiple locations throughout the holiday season.

Stocking Stuffers

It seems as if stocking stuffers are simple; easy, even. You grab a few things, you stuff them into some stockings and you go about your business, correct? Well, kind of. I don’t know how Santa stuffs stockings at your house, but at our house he stuffs them to the tune of $500+ dollars. Between undergarments from our favorite designers, lottery tickets, candy, little toys, gift cards and my husband’s very much appreciated addition of a little blue box in my stocking every year, we are looking at a big investment just to stuff stockings.

I always just assume I’ll be able to run into the dollar bin at Target and pick up a few things for each of the kids and call it a day, but somehow it ends up being a very expensive process to stuff stockings. What we all need to do is take a moment to go ahead and remember that everything we purchase for stockings needs a budget; make a budget that’s whatever you feel is appropriate and stick to it. It’s going to make it simple for you to put what you want into everyone’s stockings without breaking the bank. When you don’t plan for this holiday season cost, you lose.

Travel Fees

I don’t travel for Christmas; our family is all near us and they come to our house from their own homes only 15-20 minutes away, and that works out nicely for us. However, I know that many people do travel for Christmas. While it’s not a holiday season cost that surprises anyone who knows they are spending money on airfare and a rental car and a hotel, there are other costs that never fail to surprise anyone.

For example – and this is not a holiday season cost, really – but every single time we travel I find that we spend more than I thought we might while we were gone (not counting shopping and dining). It always turns out to be extra costs we just forget about. When you book airfare, for instance, do you ever bother thinking about things like your airport parking? I always forget things like this. Every single time we go to NYC, I forget that cabs are something we spend hundreds on. Airport parking, airport bar tabs and all those things are just things I never take into consider. Valet parking when we park a rental car at a hotel – or our own car  – and gratuities for the valet every time we leave or return, gratuities on room service charges and bellhop services; they all add up and really do put a dent into your budget when you are not careful with what you spend there.

Higher than Usual Utility Bills

It’s always nice when the weather changes and it’s no longer so hot outside you have to run the air conditioner every day, all day long (at least here in Florida). That moment when the weather becomes nice and you can open your windows and allow the fresh air in. It also means that your utility bill is about to shrink significantly, and we love that. Of course, that doesn’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things when you take into consideration the fact that your utility bill is going to become one of those holiday season costs you forget all about.

Turning off the air = lower utility bill.

Plugging in Christmas lights and decorations = higher utility bill.

While your new utility bill might not be higher, it won’t drop as much as you might think. Take us Floridians for example; we live where it’s finally reached a comfortable 70 degrees in the day and it is in the 60s at night. We can open our windows and never turn our air on right now. We also don’t require any heat, though, since it’s not cold enough here for that. This means our utility bills don’t change too much now that the air is off even though our lights are plugged in.

However, someone in Michigan, for example, might need their heat and their lights all on at the same time, and their utility bills might increase dramatically. It’s just a classic example of the many ways in which you might experience holiday season costs you were not expecting.

Photo by Getty Images


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