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Rethinking Holiday Gift Giving in 2020

On New Year’s Eve 2019, I don’t think anyone could have guessed what would befall the world in 2020. I know that my New Year’s Eve party guests and I, dressed in roaring 20’s costumes, had no idea. We were literally dancing and toasting the year 2020 into being. Well, a lot has happened in a little over 11 months. This year has changed us all, in different ways and levels, but it has changed us. Now, the holiday season is upon us again. Can we rethink our holiday gift giving in 2020?

Many people have lost jobs, had salaries decreased, gone through savings, dipped into retirement funds early, or gone into debt to get by this year. This blog post is not about how budgeting, planning, saving, and investing, can get you through tough times- that will be talked about in other posts. This blog post is simply about rethinking holiday gift giving in 2020.

Consciously Shifting Our Gift Giving

Sometimes we get in a habit, pattern, or tradition about how we think things must be. During the holidays we can get caught up in the gift giving without really thinking about the consequences of over spending and/or unconsciously spending on gifts. I say this as someone who loves the holidays, loves to holiday shop, and gets great joy in giving gifts. In a year that has been financially tough on so many people, the last thing we need to do is end the year further indebted. This is the year everyone will understand that a gift-giving shift may be upon us.

There are many ways to rethink gift giving. Some are as simple as conversations with family and friends. Stating that this year has impacted me financially and I am unable to exchange gifts. There is no shame in that. A person who cares about you does not want you to go into debt just to carry on the tradition of gift giving. Or you can get creative and give heartfelt gifts that cost little or no money. Think out of the box. Write a poem, song, or a story for a family member or friend. Tell the person how she or he has positively impacted your life. That gift will put a smile on anyone’s face and maybe even a tear of joy in her or his eye.

Shop Local

When you do buy physical gifts, support local businesses. Small business owners and their employees are struggling through 2020. The holiday season is usually a boost for small businesses; let us continue to show our support by shopping local. There is something about giving a gift that comes from a local shop that gives the gift added inherent value. I am not only purchasing something special for someone I love. I am helping someone else live their dream. That is a win/win.

The Beauty of a Book

Buy a book for someone. Not just any book but a book that has special meaning to the recipient. Then inscribe a personal message on the inside cover. I have a friend who inscribes the books she gives me and years later, I still have her thoughtful words to read again and again.

I am a nature girl and a dedicated native plant, chemical-free, pollinator gardener- so I have to insert one of my favorite newly discovered authors here. His name is Douglas W. Tallamy and his books Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope come highly recommended by yours truly and my pollinator gardening friends. And what if, your gift of a special book reawakened something that was dormant in the recipient? A book can be a gift that keeps giving for years to come.

Nonprofit Organizations

Give to a nonprofit organization that your family member or friend supports. Nonprofits are hurting also. Being aware and in tune to a cause that someone you love supports- is a sincere and thoughtful act. Then make a card or note and let the person know you donated because what they care about matters to you.

If you are lucky enough to be with the people you love over the holidays- soak that in. Enjoy every moment. Be filled with gratitude, because the best gift we have is each other.

Sincerely,

Susan, The MoneyMaestra

Susan Howell
Written by: Susan Howell, The MoneyMaestra.

Even though I grew up without money, I was able to retire at 50 based on my financial practices. I worked for the Federal Government for 26 years, with 6 of those years at the IRS and 20 at the Department of Justice, which included investigating many money-related cases.

I created MoneyMaestra to share what I know and to help people get on the path to Financial Freedom.

24 Comments

  1. Mary Benton

    For several years now, our extended family has stopped giving material gifts because, frankly, none of us really need anything. Instead, we donate to nonprofits that we know our family members support. If we had young children in our family, I highly recommend foregoing toys made from plastic as our world is already overwhelmed with plastic garbage.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Yes, I agree Mary. When we know better, we do better (thank you Maya Angelou for that quote). Donating to a cause near and dear to the heart of one you love is such a beautiful way of showing how much you care about the other person and a good cause is receiving much needed financial support- a complete win/win. Instead of plastic toys helping our children to become immersed in nature at a young age will have a lasting positive effect for them and the world.

      Reply
  2. Cheryl

    Susan,
    Thank you for expressing so many beautiful ways to give and connect around the holidays. It’s a reminder that showing love does not equate to spending a lot of money. Also, that meaningful gestures can sometimes have more of an impact.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Yes, exactly showing love does not have a price tag attached to it. I think this year, many people will give incredible, no cost or low cost gifts, because we are thinking creatively, lovingly, and out of the box.

      Reply
  3. Lisa D

    These are fantastic idea Susan!!!! This is the kind of mindfulness we all need this season.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Lisa. Being mindful and loving with each other is a gift in and of itself.

      Reply
  4. Julie

    Thank you Susan for your suggestions to make this unusual holiday season less stressful, especially for those financially impacted by the pandemic. May your holiday be full of peace and love, the greatest gifts ❤️

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Welcome, Julie. It has been a tough year and so many people are struggling financially. The material gifts are not the heart of the season. As you said peace and love are our greatest gifts. Happy Holidays!

      Reply
  5. Hulen Brown

    Hello Susan,
    Thank you for these great tips for giving. They help take away stress and guilt of doing something different this year. These concrete tips are greatly appreciated. Your affirmation is very encouraging.

    The colors of fall are brilliant in our area. I am happy to get to appreciate them again.
    Merry Christmas to you and Will

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Mrs. Brown. I know 2020 made me do a lot of thinking and reevaluating. We all need to reduce our stress and there are so many ways to make shifts in our habits and thought patterns. I bet Georgia is just brilliant this time of year. Merry Christmas to you and Pastor Brown. Sending love.

      Reply
  6. Tuyen Tieu

    Wonderful advice! I’m definitely re-evaluating where our money goes this year and every year forward. We usually spend tons on toys that get very little use. This year, I’ll be looking locally and gifting lots of plants in pretty pots.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Tuyen. When I look back, I know I gave me son too many toys, that he didn’t really use much and then it contributed to all the excess in the world. It is liberating to rethink the way we give gifts. Giving plants is one of the best gifts!

      Reply
  7. Marilyn Coronado

    Excellent advice Susan! Years ago I stopped material gift giving to those who have all they and instead help someone in need. I also bake cookies as special gifts. A book, a meaningful poem or a plant however are gifts with special meaning that the receiver will always appreciate

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      That is beautiful Marilyn. Thank you for sharing how you have made a holiday gift giving shift.

      Reply
  8. Amy Renn

    Susan, thank you for these wonderful mindful ideas, and helping us to rethink that “gifts’ do not have to come in the form of wrapped boxes to be opened.

    For the last couple of years we have mostly only given experiences or items that could be consumed. This year my husband and I are making a large donation, on behalf of our loved ones, to Feeding America, an organization that helps support 200 food banks across our country. We are also purchasing our Christmas cards from a local artist.

    I LOVE that you are making this part of the conversation, Susan. Most of us do not need anymore stuff or unneeded stress in our lives.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Amy, what a beautiful way to celebrate the holidays, the people you love, and those that need help with the food shortage. There are so many people right here in the United States that don’t have enough to eat. When we begin to shift our ideas and thoughts about what is important we can make such a positive difference in the world. Then when the ripple effect occurs and more and more people do this- wow! magic can happen. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  9. Karyn Keil

    Yes, perfect timing for your helpful suggestions. This year, I am only exchanging material gifts with the people I am spending the holidays with. With one friend, we always exchange experiences by getting tickets for an activity to share together. I have asked my husband for a love letter this year. I thought more about utility in the gifts I am giving. Giving something that affirms someone means a lot. Like you said, buying a book or something that shows the recipient that you really see them is a great gift. Words of affirmation and cards expressing those words are priceless. Covid has not been fun, but it has made many of us more mindful. Taking time to recognize & appreciate who and what is most important in my life has been a great gift to myself this year!

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Karyn, thank you for your heartfelt comment. I think when we really show the gift recipient, I get you and I see you- it means so much. Covid has given me the same gift of recognizing and appreciating who and what is most important in my life. I think that the mindfulness that has happened while people have been spending so much time alone or with very few people can be brought into 2021 to make the world a better place.

      Reply
  10. Karyn Keil

    PS- I love the photo of Marley; our pets are a precious gift, that’s for sure!

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Yes, they are. Marley and Nutter Butter have been my two little angels during Covid. They are great company.

      Reply
  11. Deena McElroy

    Fantastic advice, Susan…I think it is so important to re-evaluate gift giving this year.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Deena. This has been a tough year in so many ways but we can choose to do things differently and more mindfully. I see that as one of the silver linings of Covid. We already have so much “stuff” in this world- reevaluating gift giving can be a positive change:)

      Reply
  12. Janice britz

    Such wonderful suggestions during these trying times. It’s the thought that counts as you expressed so well. Love your blog and your way of thinking your financial strategies has helped and blessed me in so many ways. Keep all this great advice coming.

    Reply
    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Janice. Sometimes, we just need to reframe the way we think about something and if shifts. It has been a tough year and I think people are ready for a fresh start. To end the year with less monetary stress and a refocus on what is really important to us is a win/win.

      Reply

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