Monday, December 7, 2020

A Very Merry COVID Christmas: How to Safely (and Affordably) Celebrate This Year

 When the first cases of COVID-19 started to appear in the U.S., most of us had no idea that the pandemic would continue to wreak havoc nine months later. And now, our usual holiday plans have been thrown for a loop.

Medical experts agree that the safest thing you can do is to stay home this year and refrain from gathering with others. For those who have become accustomed to large holiday celebrations, this guidance can come as a bit of a blow. But there are still plenty of ways to bring some festive cheer into a pandemic holiday season -- all while staying safe and keeping things affordable. Here are just a few tips to keep in mind for these uncertain times.

Schedule Video Calls With Loved Ones

It's best to limit your holiday celebrations to those who live in your immediate household. That means that grandparents and distant relatives shouldn't gather together with you to decrease the risk of viral transmission. But that doesn't mean you can't see your loved ones' faces during this time of year! Take advantage of available teleconferencing technology and schedule some video calls with your friends and family. Hosting a virtual Christmas party or lighting the menorah via Zoom may not be what we're all used to, but it can provide us all with a sense of socialization and lift our spirits during a difficult time.

Get Creative With Gift-Giving

Many businesses are struggling right now more than ever. As it was, 70% of all business partnerships failed even before the pandemic took hold. As a result, you may be able to find some amazing sales during this time. But don't overlook the fact that locally owned organizations really need your support. If you're in a position to do so, shop locally as much as possible this holiday. Whether you give a gift card to your favorite restaurant for take-out or you purchase some hand-made goods for curbside pick-up, these personal gifts will help local businesses while making your holiday even more meaningful. Don't forget that homemade gifts can also be a great way to save money while providing a personal touch!

Gather Some Natural and Homemade Decor

Speaking of homemade items, put your creativity to good use with your holiday decorating. Although 50% of people are more likely to click on a particular brand name if the brand name shows up more than once in search results, you don't have to resort to the internet to find amazing home decor for the holiday season. Avoiding brand name items can typically save you more money -- and making decor yourself can provide your family with an enjoyable holiday project to do at home. Try making your own ornaments from flour and water or gathering up some pine branches in your yard to create a festive garland or wreath. These options are both eco-friendly and affordable, making your holiday that much more special.

Start a New Tradition

It's easy to feel blue when you can't participate in your normal holiday traditions this year. But remember that you can always create new traditions. Maybe you want to start 12 days of Christmas cookie baking or you want to sing carols as a family on Christmas Eve. You could spend the day playing board games, take a Christmas morning walk around the neighborhood, or drive around town looking at holiday light displays. Although these new traditions may not make you completely forget about what we're missing out on this year, you have a unique opportunity to make new memories that you'll continue to cherish for years to come.

Remember the True Meaning of the Season

Although President Trump signed the CARES Act into law back in March, which cost nearly $2 trillion, it's clear that many families and business owners continue to struggle. You certainly aren't alone if money is tight this year or you feel depressed over the state of the world. But remember that the holiday season isn't really about expensive gifts. It's about spending time with your nearest and dearest (even through a computer screen!) and being thankful for everything we do have. You don't have to go into debt just to make up for the pandemic-related disappointment this year. There are plenty of other ways to make the season special -- and what your family will really remember has nothing to do with how much you spend.

There's no doubt that the holiday season is going to be very different in 2020. But rather than spend your time fixating on factors you can't control, remember that there are lots of ways to make Christmastime truly memorable and enjoyable.


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