by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Nov. 14, 2020
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Short on cash for the holidays? You can still shower your loved ones in a meaningful way.
Though the holidays are a financial stretch for a lot of people year after year, this season, more Americans than ever may be limited to a very tight budget. We can thank the coronavirus pandemic for that.
Since March, millions of jobs have been lost and many people have been forced to deplete their savings accounts just to stay afloat. If you're in a similar boat and can't spend a lot of money on gifts this holiday season, don't despair. You can still show the important people in your life that you're thinking of them with these thoughtful gestures.
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Maybe you can't swing apparel or electronics for friends and family, but how about $20 to $30 for ingredients? Buy some flour and sugar in bulk, and bake up an array of cookies to give to the people on your list. Not a baker? Consider making homemade pasta sauce or salsa instead.
Maybe your best friend has young kids at home she rarely gets a break from. Or perhaps your sister has a hard time leaving her house for the evening because of her needy dog. Offering the gift of your time to babysit or pet-sit is something your recipients will greatly appreciate -- especially for friends whose children are learning remotely right now.
These days, we could all use a little unwinding. Instead of a gift, you can create an afternoon of pampering for a friend. Go over and draw your friend a bath, set up some candles, and supply a soothing soundtrack you put together yourself. It's a safer bet than a spa day at a time like this, but it'll likely have a similar effect.
Maybe you're the handy type with a friend or relative who isn't. That’s a great opportunity to step in and give the gift of a home project. Offer to paint your friend's living room, install your aunt's new kitchen backsplash, or replace your parents' aging bathroom tiles. They're apt to appreciate it, and it'll improve their quality of life much more than a sweater will.
Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give is new experiences. To that end, pack up some snacks and sandwiches, find a nice park or nature trail, and treat someone you care about to a picnic lunch. If you're able to scout out a spot with a fantastic view, even better.
A lot of people are in a tough situation financially this year. If that's the case for you, don't stretch your budget to the point where you're getting in over your head, and don't push yourself into unnecessary costly debt. Instead, get thoughtful and creative. Your from-the-heart gifts may be better received than anything you've ever given your loved ones before.
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