PF Friday Grab a Brew #50: Do you get a Christmas bonus or rely on a budget?



Christmas bonuses for many people are a thing of the past as organizations struggle to keep afloat but many still do spread holiday cheer with their employees even if it is just by giving them a turkey or Christmas card.

If you are an employer and are wondering what to get employees for Christmas I’d say that you know your employees best and the only way to retain good people is to make them feel like they are part of the team and acknowledging their hard work.

That doesn’t always amount to dollar signs but it is a great way to give back. If you’ve ever watched undercover boss then you know how important it is to recognize those employees that go above and beyond for the organization.

On the flip side just this week WestJet went above and beyond for their customers by granting them their Christmas wish list which went viral on You Tube and all social media and certainly showed how listening and giving is better than receiving.

When the holidays roll around as an employer you should at the least recognize your employees but it’s up to you what approach you take and how much money is in the company budget.


Christmas bonus


I remember for years in the UK my employer would give us a holiday turkey to take home to our family which was great. We thought it was very kind of them considering they didn’t have to do anything at all. I have never expected nor do I still expect anything from my employer at Christmas time.

I am the type of guy who loves to give and never expects anything in return but a thank-you.

My wife on the other hand a past employer of hers would give each employee a $1000 bonus every year minus the taxes because it’s still considered an income so you have to pay tax on a Christmas bonus unless of course you are lucky to get a lump sum tax-free.

That huge Christmas bonus what many of her colleagues relied on come Christmas time to buy gifts and holiday treats, decorations and food for Christmas dinner.

Over the years the organization grew to the point where they devised Christmas bonus guidelines which was based on years of service. You can only imagine the disgruntled employees when they found out they no longer might not get their $1000 Christmas bonus.

This is just one reason why we should never keep all of our eggs in one basket nor should we rely on anyone or anything when it comes to our finances. We are the sole people in charge our path in life and how our financial wealth will either grow or sink.

The problem is when people get so used to be given something and it gets taken away they struggle to figure out how they will maintain the lifestyle or in this case Christmas traditions that they may have had over the years with that Christmas bonus.

I don’t know what the average Christmas bonus is for many people because it depends on where you work and if you even get one at all. My employer doesn’t give out Christmas bonuses rather we get a Presidents Choice Gift Card for $50 every year.

It’s not expected but it’s a nice way that my employer says Merry Christmas and thanks for being part of the team and it makes me proud to know that they think of us. I don’t care what they give us or how much just recognition of the holidays and being able to get a few days off to spend with my family is more than enough from my employer.

Some people don’t get any time off from work and have to work right through the holidays. They would give up any bonus just to be home sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace with their loved ones instead of having to work although many in emergency services have no choice.


Christmas budget


In our monthly budget you already know if you follow this blog that we have a Christmas budget section that we save for every month in our projected expenses account. I’ve likely babbled on about it many times in my blog posts but now I know that we should always set aside more than anticipated in this category.

Even though I like to break down the budget the best I can it’s impossible to know every expense you will make. The same rings true at Christmas time.

We save $150 for 2 Christmas exchange gifts and a toy donation plus anywhere from $30-$50 for the nieces and nephews which we struggle to stick to most years. We also failed to factor in any boxing day sales although that may just fall under miscellaneous.

In the Christmas budget you will also find money to purchase baking ingredients but we forgot to factor in decorative plates and other bits and bobs we pick up from the dollar store such as gift bags, wrapping paper, tape and holiday gift cards. Next year we will see an increase in this category for savings but without tracking our expenses we wouldn’t know whether or not we were saving enough or not.

Although this year we are finding that we are spending more than we have saved for over the year we are now able to look back and adjust our budget for the 2014 year.

We don’t rely on any Christmas bonuses like my wife had with her past employer, rather we rely on our own savings plan. There would be nothing worse than to not save any money because we rely on a Christmas bonus only to find out it’s been cancelled.

I’m betting most people take to the credit card and swipe the plastic just to get by and worry about the debt in the new year. This can be hard on the finances especially if the bill can’t be paid in full. That spiral of credit card and interest payments begin and essentially what we try to avoid here at Canadian Budget Binder.

We have learned about the pitfalls of a credit card but we have also learned what plastic points can do to give us more than we bargained for but only if we pay a credit card off each month.

I was reading an article today how one employer is giving their employees 120 seconds to shop til they drop at their local Costco which is there Christmas bonus from the employer.

A shopping spree sounds like a great way to end the year and give the employees something different rather than cash or the traditional ham or turkey. I could only imagine the look on their faces when their employer told them what they were getting but would this really inspire employee loyalty? Is this enough to motivate you as an employee all year-long?

Are company pensions, benefits and other perks more important to you?

To be honest these days anyone who has a job should be happy for that and many other reasons. I’m sure there are people waiting in line who would be willing to forgo any bonuses just to get a weekly pay cheque rather than relying on welfare or unemployment cheques.

I thought it was a brilliant idea and it certainly was nice to hear of an employer going above and beyond like that. The only pitfall is if employees become accustomed to getting these above and beyond Christmas bonuses or expensive gifts and expect them every year.

Should you write your employer a Christmas bonus thank you letter? Sure there is no reason why you can’t say thanks and certainly no one is going to think you are strange for doing it. Appreciation goes both ways in any relationship, even a work relationship.

Do you get a Christmas bonus or rely on a budget? 


Top recipe


Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe comes from a blog called “Off the cutting board” where they share this amazing “Veggie Christmas Tree” display which I thought was absolutely amazing for any gathering over the holidays.

For the next few Grab a brew posts I will feature holiday recipes which are posted to spread some holiday cheer and good food with all of you.



Posts of the week


If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


Weekly reads


Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.


Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #50 so happy saving and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.



Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?


Related articles


Share to...

Similar Posts


  1. Thanks for the share, friend.

    Neither one of us gets a big bonus. The last few years my husband has received a few large turkeys which was a great treat for our family. My boss usually takes us out for a nice meal, all expenses included and usually gives us a card with some cash (usually $200). nothing to bank on. If I get the cash this year I plan on putting it towards our daughters RESP.

    1. Well it’s nice when our employer does something but it’s not necessary. I think having a job is just as well. Merry Christmas Catherine.. 🙂

  2. The WestJet video has made me cry every time I watch it. Ugh!

    We get a “bonus” of $50 in an envelope. Womp. I just use it for gas for the next couple of weeks or to buy whatever left over stocking stuffer I still need to get.

  3. I am LOVING that veggie Christmas tree, Mr. CBB! What an awesome appetizer for the Christmas dinner table. Rick doesn’t get a bonus, although he does get a small stipend each December for being a member of his large company’s fire department. We usually pay for Christmas gifts with his “extra” check that comes in December since he’s on a 26-week pay schedule. Next year, though, we’re going to budget a bit each month for Christmas so that his extra check really is extra and can be put into savings or toward debt. Thanks much for mentioning our article this week, my friend – we appreciate it!

  4. Way back when the plant hubby worked at was still owned by Campbell’s Soup we would get a box of product every year with a ornament for the tree in there too. I still have a few of those ornaments. The food product was nice and a chance to try the odd thing we may not buy for ourselves. I’m not sure what they are giving these days, if anything, last I heard it was $25.00 gift cards for M&M Meats. Our daughter has received Christmas bonuses from the daycare where she works most years. A couple of years ago she got enough of a cash bonus to pay for a couple of snow tires for her car.. a very nice thing to get!!! Given that the year before she had an accident that wrecked her car in Dec. the tires have been very nice to have!! She’s not sure what she is getting this year yet. She’s hear talk but that’s about all. If it’s a cash bonus she will likely get a little more than most as she is a now a program supervisor instead of just classroom staff at the daycare. Slightly different pay scale. What ever it is she is thankful to get it and to have a job…..

  5. I don’t get a Christmas bonus (my boss is awful-haha) AND I have to work through much of the holidays. I had to really push to get Christmas day off because clients are chomping at the bit for stuff. I love how they get to sit back while they expect me to work. Grrr bah humbug! At least the income will be good this month, so there is that! yay! Thanks so much for the blog mention!

  6. Historically, we used to have a lavish Christmas party and gave all the staff a night in a 5-star hotel a block away so that no one drank and drove. We even paid for the overnight parking so they would not be tempted to move the car to a cheaper lot.

    Christmas bonuses are based on both the employee performance but also on the financial health of the year for the company. Since the recession hit, we have had to do away with the Christmas party but the staff still have a nice Christmas lunch.

    This was a tough year for the company and really they should not have incurred any bonus payouts.The President knows that his staff are counting on a bonus at Christmas though… and since he hadn’t given them fair warning that the practice was going to be terminated, he did give them something even if it’s a lot smaller than they would have liked.

  7. I have never gotten a cash Christmas bonus. My full time job use to give out turkeys and they stopped that and replaced it with a luncheon. Some years it’s a really nice buffet with many different fixings and other years we wonder why they even bothered because it’s store bought shortbread cookies and punch.
    My part time job is at a supermarket and it’s usually a really nice luncheon depending on who wants to cook. We’ve had full turkey dinners or fixings for subs/sandwiches, fruit, veggies, dessert.
    I have used credit cards to fund Christmas presents in the past. This year it’s cash only and I have reduce my list from 20 people to 6.

  8. It’s important to remember that bonuses are extras, and to be appropriately grateful to have received them. They should never be counted on as part of the budget.

    Some years ago, I worked for a small town answering service. Our employer was very kind and gave us a cash bonus every year for years until, one year, the building that housed the business burned down. He struggled to get the business up and running again, and to keep us all employed, despite the fact that the insurance company delayed and delayed about paying out. (The fire originated with another business housed in the same building and there was an arson investigation. The fire was eventually ruled accidental but not until many of those affected lost their businesses to bankruptcy.) At the end of that very difficult year our employer still wanted to give us something for Christmas but was very pressed financially, so he negotiated gift certificates from a local restaurant in exchange for credit against their January answering service bill. One of my co-workers walked into the office and threw the certificate at him, shouting “This won’t buy me groceries!” I was so ashamed for her. I thought it exceptionally kind that he had arranged anything at all.

    We do have a Christmas budget but it’s changed in recent years. We no longer exchange gifts with our family so now we budget to make a donation to the food bank on their behalf and then send them the tax receipts. It’s a fixed amount and easier to plan for than our old gift list was.

    1. That is true and many people at my wife’s old job would count that as part of the budget or meaning they didn’t have to budget for Christmas since they relied on that money. Anything could happen when it comes to a company bonus so I’d treat as such, a bonus. If we get it,we get it, if not, then oh well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.