Regifting? Not gifting at all? Spending on self care instead of others? Your loved ones will understand after a year like no other

Holiday norms have changed because of the pandemic, and recharging your mind, relationships and wallet are the new priorities. Here’s what’s trending when it comes to spending over the holidays.

Regifting is OK

There’s no sense in letting a duplicate of a book set for your child just sit there and collect dust. Who could benefit from this gift? As long as it’s in its original wrapping, there’s no shame in giving it away. This will save you money, and make someone else very happy. Steer clear of regifting personal hygiene products (it’s kind of gross), partially used gift cards (it’s just weird) and products that have been opened.

Not gifting anything at all is OK

We’re in a second wave of the virus, and times are hard for many. If you simply can’t afford to give gifts, don’t. I’m fairly certain all Canadians understand the importance of saving money given today’s economic uncertainty. My advice is to be straightforward and communicate your plan to save and not spend, so that there’s no social backlash on you. If there is, you might benefit from making new friends who are better and more empathetic humans.

DIY is more than OK

If you absolutely feel obligated to give something to your five co-workers, boss, 12 neighbours, four teachers and a partridge and a pear tree (sounds stressful just writing this), make a small gift. Create a nice card, write them an appreciation letter, make an ornament or hand warmer. Handmade gifts are very trendy this year. Supercharge this by buying necessary craft supplies from local businesses.

Delaying your proposal is OK, and so is accelerating it

Has the pandemic proven that you have an incredible partner? Are you ready to take things to the next level? Christmas is historically proposal season. And if your feed hasn’t yet flooded with joyful images of your friends’ engagements, it’s about to. No pressure, right?

Step away from the Instagram pressure and think about you and your partner’s goals for your future. If it’s been a rough financial year, pausing on a formal engagement is 100 per cent OK. You are not behind! Maybe the opposite situation has occurred and you’re financially and emotionally ready far sooner than you’d thought. Then go for it (on budget, of course).

There are heaps of unprecedented social and financial pressures on couples right now. How about you plan your proposal for the right time for you and your partner. To heck with opinions. It’s your life. It’s your money. It’s OK to do what’s right for your relationship.

Using your loyalty points for you is OK

What’s going to ease your stress? Cash toward groceries? Fragrant bubble bath? A practical personal finance book? An oversized box of Turtles? A new pair of glare-resistant reading glasses? Not all your points have to be cashed in for gifts for others. In some instances, like with certain credit cards, these points can be put toward RRSP, TFSA or RESP contributions, too … and who wouldn’t like a little more financial security in 2021?

Sending holiday greetings electronically is OK

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Basically everyone knows how to open an eCard (even my 98-year-old granny), or take a FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom call by this point in the pandemic. Cards and postage can be swapped for a thoughtful digital holiday greeting. Be mindful of your time as you connect with others, because a full social schedule of virtual meetings and greetings could leave you feeling more drained.

Research shows that keeping things simple and frugal this season is probably going to help you recharge. So, you might as well embrace some of these new norms, and maybe make up a few new ones with your own family, too.

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Q:

Are you changing your budget for holiday gifts this year? What are some budget-friendly alternatives you’re planning to gift?

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TORONTO STAR