The end of the year is always special. There’s a sense of togetherness and wonder as seasons change and the winter holidays begin. However, with most of life still on hold due to the pandemic, this holiday season will be different. Fortunately, there are still many ways to come together this year, even if we’re physically apart from family and friends. We can consider giving in new ways to parents, siblings, extended family, friends and co-workers to make great memories.
Here are four ways to make the holidays merry and bright for your loved ones:
1. Give bigger by shopping local
Local businesses add to the uniqueness of your community and keep the culture alive. They also provide jobs where you live and have a positive impact on the local economy. Unfortunately, the global pandemic continues to leave businesses fighting uncertainty. According to research by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 44 per cent of small businesses are reporting that their sales have dropped 50 per cent due to the lockdown.
While most Canadians like the idea of shopping local, it’s difficult when big box stores offer extreme discounts. Consider buying less this season and focus on unique, quality and local products. You could shop local to spoil anyone on your list, keep money in your community and feel good about where your dollars are going.
2. Give an experience, not stuff
Get creative this year and offer memories instead of things. Even though large gatherings and travel are off the table, people can still enjoy unique experiences, including:
- Audio books: Books are gifts that entertain and educate us. A subscription will keep people in your life reading and learning all year.
- Fitness: The pandemic has closed gyms and kept us home more than usual. Give the gift of movement by purchasing virtual classes from your favourite local gyms.
- Meditation: Stress and anxiety have been the norm for most of this year. As we look forward, give tranquility and reassurance through a meditation app.
- Language: These skills will come in handy when we can travel again.
- Cooking: Hire a local chef to lead a virtual cooking lesson.
- Class: An online class through a university or college might be a gift that accelerates careers or helps people find a new passion.
- Music: People can take piano or guitar lessons virtually to master an instrument or learn a new one.
3. Skip the shipping
Make your dollars go further this year and switch out shipping costs for shopping dollars. By sending money directly to your family and friends, they can get what they want while supporting small business owners near them. With a Simply Free Account®, you can send Interac e-Transfers for free. It’s a great way to easily send everyone on your list the perfect gift.
4. Give your presence as a present
We may not be able to be together physically, but it’s important to stay connected. A phone call, email or virtual party are simple and affordable options that show friends and family members that you’re thinking about them. You could also write out why someone is important to you and send them a handwritten holiday card or letter. It’s an ideal way to make people feel acknowledged and loved, and will go a long way in keeping the spirit of the season alive.
Spark some joy this year and reach out on a regular basis. Set up virtual hangouts to watch holiday movies, bake cookies or prepare traditional holiday meals. We might be in separate spaces, but the time spent together is the best gift we can give.
Enjoy making new memories
Many things will be different this year, but there are lots of ways to make it special. A little creativity, love and effort will keep you connected with your loved ones and make the holiday season a time to remember. You could also give back by donating to your favourite charities.
Want some help spending wisely this season? Read our article on sticking to your holiday budget.