This post is the first in a three-part series offered to support parents with the most common stressors we’re hearing as we enter the 2023 holiday season. You can access the other posts in this series here: Navigating Family Drama During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and How to Avoid Overcommitting and Actually Enjoy the Season.
There’s a lot weighing on the shoulders of parents these days, especially as we head into the holiday season. Moms, specifically, are sounding the alarm of the overwhelming stress the holidays place upon them. In a recent social media post, many moms shared with me some of their most pressing concerns, including financial strain, extra time and energy demands and expectations, relationship challenges, and more.
What was once thought to be the happiest time of the year has slowly surfaced as being quite possibly the most stressful. So I decided to write a Holiday Stress Series of blog posts to address as many of the topics as I could. This is the first of three and will focus on a variety of ways to save money this holiday season, because we can all benefit from s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g each and every dollar.
The Financial Strain is Real
Times are tough for many these days. And while there are signs that inflation is cooling off, many families still don’t feel the relief. Grocery prices remain high, many student loan payments are resuming, childcare challenges persist, and as of October 2023, nearly 4% of the U.S. population is unemployed. While we don’t need an excuse to save money, there are plenty of reasons for us to consider out-of-the-box approaches to gifts this holiday season.
How to Reduce the Stress of Gift-Giving
From the hottest new toys for our kids to the obligatory gifts we might feel pressured to buy for the office party or extended family, there’s a lot to consider when gift giving this time of year. While creating a budget and tracking our spending is one way to ensure we’re staying on target, I thought I’d offer 10 approaches to gift-giving that might be just what you need to reduce stress and spend less this year.
- Give a card. Cards alone can be moving and appreciated. Consider amping up the impact by adding a thoughtfully written personal note inside acknowledging something the person did for you or how they made you feel. The personal touch can be way more meaningful than any gift you could purchase.
- Shop for gifts at local flea markets and thrift stores. A gift doesn’t need to be new to be appropriate and appreciated. The best gifts are the ones that show you know the recipient and thought of them specifically when purchasing it, regardless of whether it’s been previously owned/loved. Sometimes, that even increases the significance if the item is sentimental or the recipient appreciates sustainability and earth-friendly giving.
- Uncover hidden money. No, I’m not talking about under your mattress or in your old coat pocket. (Although, if that feels those places may hold money, go check now!) I’m referring more to credit card reward programs or apps like iBotta and Fetch. We can use things in our daily lives and forget that they accumulate points that can be exchanged for gift cards or even turned into cash. It’s very possible that you have money or points stashed away that you didn’t realize you had!
- Conduct a toy/item swap. Asking friends or neighbors if anyone’s interested in swapping toys/household items is a great idea to save money. And it’ll offer your child or gift recipient a new-to-them item they might have been secretly (or not so secretly) desiring for themselves!
- Make food. I make a mean chocolate chip peppermint cookie. I make big batches each holiday season and put them in tins or gift bags with a cute little bow to give to friends, neighbors, teachers, and more. If you’re a baker or a chef, consider cooking up your favorite treats/dishes and gifting it this season. I mean, who wouldn’t want dessert or dinner taken care of for them?
- Sell unwanted items for cash. If you’re like me, you have a ton of items that are going unused in your own closets or basement. So consider putting them up for sale on eBay or Facebook Marketplace to see if you can make some quick cash, while also clearing out some space!
- Coupons for future experiences. Consider creating a coupon to print and wrap that entitles your loved one to an experience in the future. Perhaps it’s a coffee date, dinner out, a hike on their favorite trail, a “Yes Day!”, breakfast in bed, or something else! The coupon allows you to print and wrap a gift to give, yet delays the need to pay for a gift until later…that is if payment is even needed! (We offer templates in our Ultimate Holiday Guide: 2023 Edition!)
- Offer your time. We all know how pressed for time we are these days. Offering your time to help someone tackle a project that’s been on their to-do list can be a gift they never even considered, yet will treasure for years to come! And our kiddos want our time the most! Offering to play a game, watch an on-demand movie, or take them to their favorite local restaurant might be a beautiful way to show them love and spend one-on-one time with them!
- Get creative. Do you paint or craft? If so, leverage your talents to create gifts your loved ones will adore! I made homemade sugar scrubs one year for my girl friends from a simple online recipe and a few drops of essential oils and they continued to ask me for it over and over again!
- Be authentic and truthful. I appreciate when my friends and loved ones are real with me. When they’ve been vulnerable and transparent about their needs or a situation is when I’ve felt most connected to them. So perhaps the best gift you can give in a season of financial strain or restraint is simply the truth. Tell them how much you love them and wish you could give them a gift, but that you are putting a pause on gifting this year to stay out of debt and that you knew they’d appreciate your honesty and respect your choice. You never know, perhaps your actions will give them the space and permission to do the same with you.
The Ultimate Holiday Guide: 2023 Edition is a free resource offering you some simple ideas to stress less this season. Inside you’ll find a gift-giving tracker, coupon templates, activities to keep the kiddos entertained, meal/party planning ideas, and even some tips to tend to your own well-being this season. It’s our gift to you! And if you’d prefer personalized support this holiday season, consider booking a complimentary 1:1 coaching consultation here to learn how coaching can help!