Have a Warm, Glowing Holiday Season Without Spending a Lot

Times are tough, but if there was ever a year I needed more magic and joy, it’s this one. I know I’m not alone, so today I’m rounding up ideas for sharing holiday joy without spending a lot (though, if you can, please support small businesses--they need us right now. Have you seen this local Austin gift guide?).

One thing we’ve all learned this year is that less is more. So, in the absence of all those holiday parties and that in-person shopping we’d normally be doing right now, here are some ways to make things special:

Photo by Juliana Malta

Christmas Lights, But Savor It

At some point this winter, I’ll bundle up my kids and we’ll go for a walk around our neighborhood to look at all the lights. To make it extra special, we’ll take some hot chocolate and a few other treats with us! And since people seem to be going extra big with the holidays lights this year, we might even do this a few nights.

Go Meaningful or Go Home

If you’ve ever felt pressured in the past to buy big, expensive gifts, this year might be the excuse you’ve been looking for to scale back and give something meaningful or deeply personal.

Can you write a letter with five reasons you love somebody, or one special memory you both share? Can you send a video of yourself telling a story about how the two of you met? I always think these gifts aren’t big enough, but truthfully they’re some of the most special things I’ve ever received. I love Gina Hamadey’s thank you project--could you try something similar this year? I have a feeling it will bring you and your recipient a lot of joy. You can find beautiful cards here.

Photo by Element5 Digital

Find Joy Through Somebody Else’s Eyes

There are a lot of holidays to learn about and celebrate this time of year--including Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. Even if you don’t know somebody celebrating, learning about and commemorating the holiday in some small way can help you feel more connected to people all over the world doing the same!

Give Time

I don’t know about you, but giving makes me feel rich. This year, nonprofit organizations are feeling extra-stressed and even if you don’t have extra funds, you might have a few extra minutes to make a big difference for somebody else.

This list is a good place to start finding ideas for ways to support your local communities this year. You might not be able to volunteer your time directly because of Covid, but there may be other things you can do, like sending Christmas cards to nursing home residents who won’t be seeing their families this year.

And Last But Not Least…

Make something yourself! I am definitely writing some “just in case” letters (#8 on this list) and will probably try one of these gluten-free, dairy-free desserts--I know some people who will be REALLY thankful!


Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.