#FinancialFridays: Holiday Season Preparation Series – Fun and Finances Really Can Mix!

2020 has been a different kind of year from the usual… and this Christmas/Holiday Season will most likely be as well. Why not use this holiday season to create new expectations, traditions and memories.

If you are finding things tough this year financially or simply want to cut back on spending, we have some helpful tips that will still allow lots of fun without a huge financial burden.

Start with a plan.

• Make a Budget – Make a budget for November, December, and January to get a good reflection of your current and future situation. Be honest about your situation. Use bank statements to help you include specific information. This will help you plan for the holidays in a realistic way. We will revisit this budget in future weeks.

• Family Meeting – Set a date and time to meet with your family/bubble in November to plan for the holidays. Make it a social event, whether in person or online. Make mint tea or hot chocolate. Plan time to check-in with one another. Share your favourite memories of the holidays. Together, make a list of the most important things that make the holidays special. It may be helpful to use categories like Events, Food, Donations/Giving to others, etc. to help prompt people. Look at the local events calendars in your community to see what special events are planned. Be honest about your financial situation and your comfort level around COVID-19. Ask the group, which things are essential and which can wait until a different year. Brainstorm ways to make some of those things happen safely and memorably. Take into consideration the most up to date recommendations from Grey Bruce Public Health. This will help to set realistic expectations.

Talk to the children in your life – Make sure to include the children in your life in this as they have important things to add. This will also help them understand that this year will be different from previous years and allow them to tell you what the most important parts of the holidays are to them. This is a good chance to speak with your kids about finances. Here are some tips from Credit Canada.

• Setting expectations about gifts – If gifts are an essential part of the holiday, consider setting a fun challenge for your family. One idea to consider is the 4 Gift Rule which still involves gift giving but keeps the number of presents to a manageable number. The concept of this gift giving tradition involves giving 4 key gifts to your children or other loved ones and include;

  1. Something they need
  2. Something they read
  3. Something they wear
  4. Something they want

Children can take part in the fun by putting together lists of items in each of the above categories. Local resident, Misty Schonauer is a busy mom of two and has been using the 4 Gift Rule for over 4 years now. She finds that the children put a lot of thought into what the gifts will be. She asks them to tell her two options for each thing just in case she can’t find what they are asking for.

“I have found that my children appreciate and are more excited about the holidays because they may know what they are getting and it is something that they want or can use. They have put the thought or research into their list. One other thing that has changed for us is that my children are looking all year long and “pinning” things to their list. It changes all the time but that is part of the important decision making of life” says Misty.

“The 4 Gift Rule has made the shopping aspect of the holidays a bit less stressful for me because I don’t have to figure out what to get them. Also, I try to keep things fairly close for each of my children with respect to price and number of gifts, so this helps keep things pretty even and manageable” she says.


Are you struggling to make ends meet? Looking to improve your financial health? Please contact our Financial Literacy Coordinator – Caroline to arrange an appointment. Interested individuals may reach out to Caroline directly at advice@unitedwaybg.com or by phone at 519-378-4773. The service is free and completely confidential.