Setting limits on holiday gift-giving essential during pandemic times


Gauging which family members and friends to buy Christmas gifts for is hard every year, but this year’s decisions are proving extra difficult.

The pandemic has caused layoffs and reduced hours, resulting in tighter budgets this holiday season.

With less money to spend, consumers are having to consider who they’re going to prioritize buying for and what they can afford. Budgets have become essential to spreading holiday cheer.

Ripon resident Mark Mitchell said he usually gets his parents, his siblings, his niece and nephew and his friends gifts for Christmas but he’s had to limit his giving to only his parents and his niece and nephew to reduce spending.

“COVID impacted my budget for Christmas because I came in contact with someone who tested positive and even though I haven’t tested positive I had been taken off work right before the holiday,” said Mitchell.

First holidays for new families are an especially hard time to hold back.

Anika Anaya has a one-year old daughter. Anaya said she believes her daughter is finally old enough to enjoy the holiday. 

Anaya said it’s easy to see something her daughter will want and automatically buy it because she wants to give her the world. 

But Anaya has been laid off since March because of the pandemic and said she’s had to let the responsible side of her overpower the mom side.

“I’ve learned to take a step back and realize the cliche of ‘it’s not about the gifts, it’s about being together’ is very true. I could wrap up toys she already has and she’d be just as excited,” said Anaya.

Stretching yourself and your wallet thin can be avoided with a little creativity.

Instead of buying your child a monster truck whose wheels will fall off in a month or a Barbie playhouse whose pieces will go missing, print out some “Admit One” tickets and create a living room movie theater complete with snacks that don’t cost $10 each.

Skip giving mom a bath basket filled with salts and scrubs she’ll never use and set up a YouTube paint night.

Gifts get broken, lost, and forgotten but memories last forever. 

Other tips to cut costs for the holidays:

If you must buy everything for everyone, cutting spending in other areas can loosen your budget for gifts.

Don’t buy 100 holiday cards to send to people you only talk to once a year. If your holiday card list is long, perhaps an email message or electronic greeting is a better option for 2020.

Don’t worry about taking expensive photos, iPhone pictures in front of the tree, Christmas or maple, are perfectly acceptable. 

Since gatherings aren’t recommended, this is the year to skip the prime rib, whatever meat you’ve had vacuum sealed in the freezer will do just fine for the main holiday meal.

Holidays may not be the same this year, but they can still be enjoyable.