ScholarNet shares 15 ideas to help our financial aid and lending friends make the 2020 holiday season both happy and safe.
As always, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season! But the holidays will look different this year if money is tight, you can’t get together with all your usual friends and family, you can’t travel as planned, or you’re missing someone special. You’re not alone. We looked for unique ideas to help us survive the holidays – and keep them safe and special. These are 15 of the most helpful tips we found.
- Think of your happiest holiday memories. Whether it’s caroling, stringing popcorn, making homemade gifts or decorations, baking, volunteering, skating, or making snow forts, you likely haven’t shared all of your traditions with your family. Make old favorites new again. Or use Pinterest to find crafts and recipes to create new traditions.
- Spread holiday cheer. Send cards or letters to let people know what they mean to you – or drop off treats to friends, neighbors, hospitals, fire stations, and nursing homes.
- Tired of Zoom calls? Plan more outdoor activities and keep to short, socially-distant gatherings in the warmer daytime hours. Decorate an outdoor tree because it’s safer due to COVID, or string lights on your balcony or deck. Have a fire pit or snowball fight – or go sledding, hiking, or skating. Enjoy warm drinks, stay socially distanced, and dress in cozy winter clothes.
- Still do Zoom calls (or FaceTime). If the people you’re calling are up for it, you can walk around and show your decorations and the things you baked this year so that it seems like not just another virtual call. (Let’s hope virtual calls continue after the pandemic so long-distance loved ones continue to be included.)
- Shop and ship early. With fewer people traveling, there’s more being shipped than ever. Pay attention to the USPS holiday shipping deadlines.
- Use inexpensive, natural decorations. Can’t afford a Christmas tree? String lights or put paper decorations on a houseplant or succulents. Frost pinecones by using white glue and dipping them in Epsom salt for a fresh snow look. Rub lemons or limes together and place them in a bowl for a pretty, fresh-smelling decoration.
- Give experiences for gifts. Research the best nearby hikes and set a date with a picnic lunch – or host a movie date night with treats, and agree to watch several movies your significant other favors that you normally wouldn’t watch. For kids, siblings, or parents, buy a gift card to a museum so you can do something together when it reopens.
- Manage kids’ expectations. If money is tight, explain and ask kids to choose one special gift. Fill in with gift experiences like a coupon book that gives them special time going for ice cream with mom or dad, extra bedtime stories, a week free of chores, etc. (Help them make coupon books for others so they can share in the joy of giving, too.)
- Whether it’s giving time at an organization, checking on a friend who lives alone, shoveling for a neighbor, or donating food – remembering others will bring more joy to the season.
- Check out holiday lights together. Get everyone out of the house together to view holiday lights in your area. A change of scenery, more joy of the season, and an opportunity to talk about something new will do you all some good.
- Create an advent calendar of activities. Sample activities? Read a holiday book, play carols by candlelight, learn about traditions surrounding a holiday other than your own, watch a holiday movie on Netflix, make a donation to a food bank, have a game night, etc.
- Build a photo memory book as a gift. For relatives or friends who missed much of the year with your family, build a memory book that catches them up on what happened. Print and mail photos, share Google photos, put prints in an album, or have a book or calendar printed – there are options in all budgets. They’ll appreciate the irreplaceable gift.
- Connect your kids with Santa. If you can’t take the kids to see Santa, you can schedule a live or prerecorded virtual call with Santa using JingleRing. Or maybe better yet, “mail” your child’s letter to Santa. Make sure they receive a letter back in the mail from Santa in response to their letter.
- Share homemade starters. Many people have been cooking and baking more this year, so think outside the box of the usual Mason jar gifts. Make cocoa fixings, baking mixes, drink mixes, or even your sourdough bread starter in a jar along with the recipe and instructions.
- Savor the sights, sounds, and smells of the season. Relish small moments and let your senses take you back to other joyous times.
At ScholarNet, we value being part of your circle. We know you have choices, and we work every day in an effort to make sure you know and feel that working with us is a good one. We send our best wishes to you and yours for a safe, healthy, and bright holiday season with a promise of hope in 2021.