What are your holiday traditions? Or maybe the question should be: What were your holiday traditions before the coronavirus pandemic completely changed your plans?  

We’ve talked about it a lot on this blog (and everywhere else on the internet), but COVID-19 truly has changed the way we live our lives. Now that the holidays are here, the pandemic is forcing us to get creative about the way we celebrate them.

The good news? You can still make the holidays a special time, even if you can’t travel or get together with family. If you focus on what you have and be mindful of how you spend your time and money, you can make the best of 2020’s holiday season.

Gather virtually

If you usually drove to your parents’ home for presents and holiday dinner, that may not be doable anymore because of COVID-19. That’s OK, though. Why not have Christmas or Hanukkah dinner together over Zoom? If you haven’t set up your parents on Zoom, now is the time to do it. (Just be patient if they’re not super comfortable with tech

Your time together doesn’t have to be over dinner, either. Maybe you can pick a holiday movie or two to watch at the same time using Netflix Party. Light the menorah together, unveil the holiday decorations in your home, or simply catch up on a call while making the holiday meal.

However you decide to celebrate together (but not together-together)… remember how great it is that we actually get to celebrate the holiday virtually thanks to technology. It would have been a lot harder to do this by phone through a landline or by handwritten letter, r

Focus on memories

If the pandemic has affected your family’s finances, there’s no reason to shop during the holidays the way you used to. “Holiday season” and “shopping” may be synonymous for many, but spending money isn’t what makes the holidays special. The memories do. Most of the time, these experiences are free. 

You’re spending the holidays in your home, so why not go all out with decorations? Create a festive garland or display out of past years’ holiday cards. Set up your advent calendar. Spend time with your partner and/or kids putting up holiday lights and decorating the Christmas tree.

Not into decorations? There are plenty of other ways you can make lasting holiday memories with your loved ones. Have a holiday movie marathon with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Wrap gifts together or write out holiday greeting cards. Bake festive cookies. It’s up to you.  

Send gifts if you can

Don’t get us wrong — I’m not suggesting you avoid spending money on gifts this year! It’s totally okay to buy presents for your loved ones if that’s how you like to show them you care. That may be one of your only options if you can’t see them in person, too.

Just remember to send your gifts early in case of longer shipping delays than usual. Consider buying gifts from local businesses who may be struggling because of COVID-19, rather than big box stores.

It’s important to identify and manage your financial expectations during the holidays, this year more than ever. Think about what you want this year’s holidays to look like, and what you want to avoid in future holiday seasons.

Want to spend less on material gifts and make more time for experiences instead? Would you rather stay home or close to loved ones rather than take a pricey vacation? You can make those changes now…and you can use the pandemic as an excuse in case you don’t want to offend any family members or close friends who have an issue with your financial boundaries.

Spending isn’t the goal

Remember that the holidays should be a time of joy and love, not stress and financial worries. Of course, that’s way easier said than done, especially this year. But you can do it. With everything we’ve had to adjust in the wake of the pandemic, why not make those changes to holiday traditions you’ve been wanting to for years?

If you’re wanting to get a clear picture of how much you can spend (and maybe even have a fun wintertime activity to do with your partner or spouse), you can also check out the BudgetingBlocks™. They’ll help you actually see where your money is going so you can choose a holiday budget that works for you.