4 Ways to Celebrate the 2020 Holidays on a Budget

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Want to conserve funds this holiday season? Here's how.

Many people look forward to the holidays each year, but this season, things may be different. In addition to travel restrictions and health concerns, you may be grappling with income loss due to the ongoing recession. And that means you may have to seriously cut back on spending to avoid racking up a huge credit card balance in the process.

The good news, however, is that a little creativity on your part could result in minimal spending without skimping on holiday cheer. Here's how to pull off this year's holidays on a serious budget.

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1. Host a virtual Thanksgiving

Some people spend several hundred dollars to host Thanksgiving dinner, but due to the pandemic, health experts caution that gathering indoors with family could be an unwise move. For the sake of everyone's health, as well as your wallet’s, a virtual Thanksgiving dinner could be a better bet. Email your favorite recipes to your usual guests a week or so before the holiday so they can whip up their own glorious feasts. Then, gather by videoconference to show off your respective kitchen creations. You'll save money on food and drinks without having to spend the holiday solo.

2. Have your kids decorate for Christmas

Christmas lights and a freshly cut tree may be out of the question this year if money is tight. If that's the case, enlist your kids to spread the holiday spirit indoors. Have them draw holiday pictures to hang in your living room, and encourage them to put your craft drawer to good use. It'll keep them busy during their school break, and your house will still look festive.

3. Host a bonfire potluck instead of a holiday party

If your home is normally holiday party central, it's time to rethink that this year -- for safety and financial reasons. But that doesn't mean you can't celebrate with local friends or family. Instead of catering a high-end meal, bust out your backyard fire pit and gather everyone around it to ring in the holidays. Have each person bring his or her own food -- it's a safer bet these days -- and supply refreshments and paper goods instead of a multicourse meal.

4. Stick to homemade and creative gifts

It's nice to give and receive gifts for the holidays, but if you can't swing store-bought presents this year, make some instead. Or offer up your time instead of handing out physical items. Knit your sister a scarf, bake your parents a cake, or give your mom friends a night of Zoom babysitting so they can relax while you entertain their kids with virtual storytime or games. They say the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart, which means you don't need to spend a fortune to indulge the people who are most important to you.

Cutting back on holiday spending could help you avoid starting 2021 with costly debt. And given the state of the economy, that's a good thing. The best part? You may find that the above tips help you enjoy the holiday season even more -- so much so that you adopt them for years to come, even when there's not a pandemic or a recession at play.

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