How to celebrate the holidays safely and on budget

(BPT) – Uncertainty continues into the holiday season, with limited travel, canceled events and strict budgets changing how Americans will celebrate this year.

According to a recent Coinstar Holiday Survey, the majority of Americans said COVID-19 will influence how they celebrate the holidays.

Fortunately, by thinking outside the box and keeping a positive attitude, you can stay healthy, stretch funds and create merry moments. Let these tips inspire you to celebrate the holiday season safely and on budget:

1) Maintain traditions in new, safe ways

Traditions bring comfort and hope, so rather than forgoing beloved activities due to coronavirus concerns, get creative. Plan a car caravan to look at holiday lights and have everyone keep a scorecard of favorite houses including winners for most creative, brightest, funniest and overall best. Set up a video chat and bake favorite holiday treats in real time from afar. Relatives can virtually tuck kids into bed by reading classic holiday books through a free digital video platform. These activities are safer to enjoy and will create meaningful memories to make the season special.

2) Make gifts to save money

You can still have a wonderful holiday even on a tight budget. A budget-friendly option is to make it a homemade holiday this year. Face masks and hand sanitizer are great stocking stuffers that you can make and will be appreciated, especially this year. Patterns are readily available to make face masks and you can find recipes online for creating custom hand sanitizer. Another idea is to choose all handmade gifts from Etsy or local artists in your area, so you can give unique presents while supporting small businesses.

3) Cash in spare change

Even with fewer in-person gatherings and reduced gift giving this season, most people have increased expenses during the holiday season. Cashing in spare change is a good way to stretch your budget. Research shows Americans with spare change at home estimate that they have on average $113 in and around their homes. These funds can be used to buy gifts or apply to other holiday expenses. Coinstar kiosks found at most grocery stores are an easy way to convert loose change for cash, a no-fee eGift card or tax-deductible charity donation.

4) Plan a virtual gift exchange

According to the Coinstar Holiday Survey, two in five Americans who say their holiday will be different due to COVID-19 say they do not plan to travel or attend in-person gatherings. To enjoy the holidays safely, consider a virtual gift exchange with friends or family. Drop off or mail gifts and plan a time for everyone to video chat and open presents together. Get dressed in your favorite holiday attire to make the event feel special, whether that’s festive formal wear or ugly sweaters and sweats. Then, take turns opening gifts and feel the joy.

5) Give gifts with meaning

Rather than a traditional present, consider alternative gifts that show you care. Do you have a talent that would benefit others, such as tutoring a friend’s child who is studying remotely? Could you drop off a meal for a senior who’s homebound? Could you donate a snack basket for hard-working delivery personnel? Lastly, instead of a present, you could make a donation in the recipient’s name to a charity close to that person’s heart.

6) Delay holiday celebrations

All of these ideas can help you maximize the holiday season, but if you still long to celebrate in person, consider planning a gathering for later in 2021. According to the survey, about half said they would consider “Christmas in July” in 2021 for in-person celebrations. So, whether it’s a summer Christmas event or another holiday, it’s something to look forward to once it’s safe again. Send out “save the date” invitations and put your creative juices to work for a summer get-together.