The holiday season is in full swing and this is one of my favorite times to remind myself to focus on more experiences and memories with loved ones. It’s easy to feel the stress of having to provide and pay for gifts and other costs over the next few weeks. I know it sounds cliche to say that the holidays are about more than just gifts, but it’s true.
This year in particular has been difficult on a lot of people and when I think about protecting my mental health and ending the year on a good note, I don’t think about the latest iPhone or a PlayStation 5. Things are just things, and while they can help a little, it’s more important to focus on experiences. Plus, shifting your focus from things to experiences can help you save money in the long run.
So how do you do this especially when the holiday season looks so different this year? Here are some easy ideas to start with.
Create a Holiday Bucket List
I love creating bucket lists. I have a bucket list of things I want to do before I turn 30. While I don’t get all worked up if I can’t check something off my bucket list, it does make me feel like I’m trying to live a more intentional life. Creating a holiday bucket list can give you something to look forward to instead of just buying gifts.
Even though we’re able to do less this year, you can still get creative and come up with a list of experiences you want to enjoy by yourself or with loved ones. Maybe you have a favorite holiday movie that you love to watch each year. Or, perhaps your kids want to go sledding at the first sign of snow that sticks. Maybe you want to spend your holiday break learning a new skill or picking up another hobby.
Narrow down a few things that bring you joy and allow you to safely make memories with loved ones. Then, try to tackle as many things on your holiday bucket list as you can.
Give Your Time
Another way to focus on experiences over things this holiday season is by giving your time. See if you can volunteer somewhere whether it’s at church, a community organization or a local food pantry. Give away meals to families in need. Lend your skills to decorate the outdoor storefront for a local business. Teach music or art lessons to kids online over video chat if you have those skills. Offer to pet sit for a friend or neighbor if they need it.
If you stop and look, you’ll probably see that there are so many ways to give your time and serve others this holiday season. Focus on people in your family or community that have a need and see what you can do to help. If you can lend a helping hand or solve a problem for someone, this could really make their day.
Reconnect With Loved Ones
Fewer people will be traveling this holiday season. That doesn’t mean you can’t still reconnect with loved ones. Earlier this year my grandmother on my dad’s side passed away. I was sad to lose her but also grateful that I was able to visit her last year over Christmas break and catch up.
Now that travel is limited and most areas are on a soft lockdown, I realize that you can still connect with loved ones in other ways. A simple phone call could make a difference. You can also host video calls with family and I know Zoom made calling free for all users on Thanksgiving day.
It’s not the most ideal situation but thanks to modern-day technology, you can still stay in touch with loved ones in some way. You can also consider sending some Christmas cards to family members and friends this year if you’ve never done this in the past.
Keep Kids Busy With Indoor and Outdoor Fun
If you have kids, you know how hard it can be to keep them busy during the holiday break. It will be even more challenging this year due to more limitations. Still, this could be a time where you get creative and find fun ways to make memories with your family indoors and outdoors.
This could mean having a family game night each week this month or hosting a gingerbread house decorating competition. It could involve baking cookies for the neighbors or playing a game in the yard on a warmer day.
You can pick up DIY ornament kits from the dollar store and have kids decorate their own ornaments for the Christmas tree. Or camp out in the living room with hot chocolate and watch all 3 of The Santa Claus movies back-to-back.
There’s still plenty of fun memories to be made this year when you try out some of these creative experiences. When you focus on more experiences over things this holiday season, it can help you avoid overspending and getting into debt. Plus, you think about what really creates happiness in your home long-term.
How will you be prioritizing experiences this holiday season even given the unique circumstances?