The holidays can be stressful for anyone, and being a millennial already comes with its own stressful baggage like expensive student loan payments and lower-paying jobs. Holidays can be a little tricky with these constraints. Gift exchanges, a tradition for a lot of people, may be nearly impossible for some. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to invoke your inner “Scrooge” and fail to participate in the giving spirit of the holidays. Below are my top five tips to alleviate stress and enjoy the act of giving when money is tight.
- BE the present* – Sometimes just being with family and friends for the holidays is enough, especially if you live far away from home. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “you don’t have to get anything for us. Having you here is all we really wanted.” So, if it is fiscally, and physically, possible, try to make it home for the holidays and spend time with your loved ones and friends.
- Give the gift of time* – If giving makes you feel good, but your budget doesn’t allow you to buy gifts for everyone, try volunteering your time to give back in other ways. Work at your local soup kitchen and help serve those in need, volunteer to work with a toy drive or a food pantry to provide meals and toys for Christmas day.
- Get crafty – If you want to give your loved ones something special during the holidays, try making them something! Think back to your school age days when you would make cards and masterpieces for your family in class. You don’t have to make a macaroni noodle self-portrait, unless you want to, but there are plenty of easy crafts out there that even the most artistically challenged can handle. Pinterest is a great tool for finding fun and easy crafts that your loved ones are sure to cherish for years to come.
- Be kind – Some people may be less fortunate than others and you never know what your neighbors are experiencing. Because of this, it is important to be kind. A little bit of kindness can cost $0 and it can go a long way. Give someone a compliment, hold the door for a stranger, or ask someone how their day has been. Anything will do and sometimes the kind, little things can make someone’s whole day. You might be surprised by their appreciation!
- Get focused – If the year has not quite gone the way you had hoped, sit down and make a plan for next year. No one said you must shop for the holidays in November and December. Why not shop all year? This way you can give the gifts you want to those you love and you don’t have to drop a fortune all at once doing so. Make a budget and/or set a goal. If you set a budget and want to take advantage of the savings that “holiday shopping” can have, then make a savings goal and plan so you can be prepared when you hit the stores in the Fall.
No matter how you choose to give during the holiday season, there is no sense in adding stress to your life when it already has enough. To many people, the holidays are not about the gifts, but rather spending time with your loved ones. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and those closest to you will appreciate you and understand your situation. Remember, kindness is the only gift that is worthless until it’s given away. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
*When making plans for the 2020 holiday season, please refer to the CDC guidelines pertaining to social distancing, PPE, and large gatherings with people outside of your immediate household.