Have you noticed that the holidays seem to be starting earlier than ever? In a year that’s been trying in so many ways, it’s understandable to want to stretch out the feel-good spirit of the season. And because you may not be seeing as many of your loved ones in person this year, you might find yourself wanting to go above and beyond with your gift-giving as well.

“Gratitude is one of those win-win situations,” says Clare Dubé, a financial social work counselor. “It allows us to create deeper, meaningful relationships, as well as have a positive effect on our overall health. Studies show that gratitude is linked to increased energy, better sleep patterns, and makes us more resilient.”

But sometimes our desire to express our love and gratitude doesn’t line up with the reality of our budget. Here’s how to avoid overspending on gifts, along with meaningful ways you can show appreciation for your loved ones this year.


With many people not traveling for the holidays this year, consider giving gifts that will make the extra time at home feel special. Think a cozy pair of matching socks or slippers for your parents when they curl up in front of the TV, or a new cookbook for your aunt who usually cooks the annual holiday dinner every year. And for your brother who’s been complaining about his work-from-home situation, consider getting him something that makes his home office a little brighter or better organized.


Instead of buying another bottle of hand lotion or bubble bath, a gift that shows how much you value your friendship will be even more meaningful — a photo album that showcases all the good times you’ve spent together will be cherished forever, for instance. You could also purchase an experience-based gift, such as tickets for his or her favorite museum. This will give you both something to look forward to in the new year.


While office gifts are usually a small token of appreciation, the costs can still add up, especially if you’re close with multiple colleagues. While the annual office holiday party might not be happening this year, sending a tin of homemade treats with a personalized holiday card can fill the void. If you don’t want to purchase a gift for everyone, consider making a donation to a charity in the name of your team. Your co-workers will likely appreciate the gesture in lieu of another holiday candle, and a donation gives you greater control over how much you spend.


While tipping extra may be the norm (especially in a year like 2020), if your budget is tighter than usual, a smaller gesture of kindness can still have a great impact. Providing a meal or homemade treats, or even just a latte, can brighten your service providers’ day. Love the service you receive? Then leave them positive reviews or make referrals that can help them grow their business. You might also consider booking services ahead of time to start filling up their calendar for 2021.

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