4 worthy ways to spend this season

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We know the holiday season is looking different this year. For example, many of us are planning to skip large traditional gatherings with friends and family. It’s normal to feel a sense of loss if you’re missing out on a beloved ritual this year.

On the other hand, it’s empowering to think about the things you can still control — like the giving aspect of the season. Thoughtful gifts that deliver a meaningful impact are one way that may relieve some of that pandemic weariness.

The significance of the year has caused a paradigm shift in people. Pandemic-related job losses and pay cuts will cause people to spend 25% less money on gifts this year, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. In general, we should make sure that every dollar spent is intentional and makes a difference.”

To make your holiday spending more impactful, begin with getting clear on the “why” behind each gift or purchase. Setting a budget before you begin buying can help steer you toward gifts that have an impact on the recipients.

Here are some ways to make your spending and gift giving more meaningful this season:

1. Shop responsible brands.

More and more, consumers are shifting their spending toward “responsible retail.” A lot of retailers are creating responsible initiatives around sustainability and social justice issues, for example, which can give you a little more peace of mind when you shop with them. Direct your gift-buying dollars to retailers that support the well-being of others.

2. Craft something yourself.

A meaningful gift does not have to cost a lot of money. If you are on a tight budget for holiday spending, consider customized DIY homemade gifts for your loved ones. Paying attention to what someone likes and creating a gift that fits them can go a long way. Some ideas include handmade arts and crafts, photo collages, or freshly baked cookies. If you’re not good at making stuff, even just a card with a handwritten note can make someone’s day. Thoughtful gifts that you put your heart, hands, and mind into can carry much higher sentimental value than a flashy object.

3. Consider experiential gifts instead of things.

Giving and sharing experiences can create lasting memories. In this age of social distancing, safer experiences include activities you can do outdoors, like hiking or a drive-in movie or concert. You can also gift learning experiences, such as an online class or a meal-kit subscription service that can help someone learn to cook. Or consider donating to a younger loved one’s 529 college savings plan. Investing in education can build someone’s knowledge and skills, and in turn, may increase their long-term confidence and potential.

4. Donate to a worthy cause.

If you have the means, gift giving can also be taken outside your family to help others who are in need. Consider extending holiday gift giving to charity organizations. If there’s a cause your entire family cares about, you may even suggest making a group donation this year instead of buying gifts for one another. You can also ask friends and family members if there is a cause they are passionate about and offer to support it through a gift donation on their behalf. Even small donations can make a big difference in the lives of others.

As consumers, we express our values through how we spend our money. The holiday season is the perfect time to live those values. Choose gifts that are meaningful, socially conscious, and that make a difference.


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This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.