Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing your loved ones’ faces light up when they open that
perfect gift you (or Santa) gave them. The holidays will look different this year due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try even more challenging to make the
season brighter for others. But, you don’t have to dip into the kid’s college savings to create a
special time for everyone! The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead: Have a set
spending amount for gifts, wrap, entertaining, and donations.
Make a list and check it twice
Many are struggling financially this year, so it will be no surprise to those outside your family if
your gift-recipient list is shorter this year. Once you trim your list, make a holiday treat or
handmade token for those who got the cut. It really is the thought that counts.
Once you have your list complete, figure out a realistic amount to spend on each person. Jot
down a couple of gift ideas in your price range for that person.
Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid
crowds, so they are already hitting the malls. Retailers are well aware of this trend, and are
offering pre-Black Friday sales and discounts. Spreading out your holiday shopping over several
weeks also makes it easier on your budget. Always shop with a list and keep track of your
spending. As you buy your gifts, subtract from your total budget.
In addition to shopping the sales and collecting coupon codes for online purchases, know when
to buy. December is the best time to buy cars, appliances, winter clothing, and electronics. Also,
know how much items cost before a markdown to see if you’re really getting a deal. It is
expected that online shopping will increase by 35% this year because shoppers don’t feel
comfortable being in stores. Some states still have restrictions limiting retail establishments’
capacity and store hours.
If you’re shopping online, order early, and expect delays in shipping. Increased shopping during
the holidays will affect already-strained delivery companies. To avoid shipping delays and
higher shipping costs, shop at stores that offer “buy online, ship to store” service. This service is
free at most retailers, some of which provide curbside pickup. Get the best deals on cards,
decorations, and gift wrap during the days right before and after Christmas. Discounts of up to
75% off can shave a lot off your holiday budget for next year.
Due to the pandemic, most folks will host smaller holiday gatherings this year, which will save
tons on food and treats. Many people are still working from home, so work parties and gift
exchanges also will be virtual or postponed, keeping cash in your wallet. If you’re hosting
guests, keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include
festive recipe cards with the chef’s name.
Use DIY decor featuring natural items, like holly and pinecones. Gather the kids and go on a
hike to find outdoor holiday decorations. Not only will it save you money, but it will also give
you some stress-free outdoor time with your family. Save more by partying without plastic.
Disposable plates and dinnerware are not great for the environment or your budget.
The holidays are a time for goodwill toward all. But if your budget cannot accommodate a
monetary donation, volunteer your time. If you can make a financial donation, be sure to check
that the charity you are supporting is legitimate by consulting Charity Navigator. Picking
accredited organizations also allow you to claim your donation on your taxes. You can learn
more about claiming donations on your taxes here.
Keep your holiday dollars in check, and you may have some holiday spirit left over even after
the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in.