Let’s face it, the holidays are going to look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate the season with lots of love, joy and togetherness (even if some of it happens virtually). Here are some ideas, both old and new, for festive traditions that will make this holiday season the best one yet.
1. THROW A HOLIDAY MOVIE MARATHON
Whether you’re searching for a kid-friendly classic to enjoy with the family or a festive rom-com to give you all the feels, there are tons of great movies to stream right now. Pick your favorites and pile into bed, or snuggle up on the couch in a pillowy mountain of minky weighted blankets. Set aside an entire day for the event and bring on the cookies and bottomless eggnog.
2. PICK A ‘SECRET SANTA’ FOR GIFT EXCHANGE
If you have a large family, your gift-buying list keeps on growing…and your wallet keeps on shrinking. That’s why we’re fans of a mystery gift swap. Set a dollar amount, and choose names out of a hat (or you can use a digital aid like Elfster.com). It may seem like you’re getting gypped at first, but because it’s just one gift, you can make the monetary limit substantial. Meaning, everyone gets one super amazing present (like 100% Bamboo Sheets), instead of three pairs of socks and a tie (again).
3. DO A MUG (OR ORNAMENT) SWAP
Opt for a fun, holiday mug swap in place of the traditional cookie swap. Rather than assigning each person to someone specific, keep things interesting with a white elephant mug exchange (there are many different ways to play white elephant - including a few online versions that allow for social distancing). Friends not big coffee or tea drinkers? Switch things up with a funny/unique ornament exchange instead!
4. MAKE YOUR OWN HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
Whether you bake & build a gingerbread house from scratch, DIY an ornament for the tree, craft your own dreidel, or create a modern Kinara, kids (and grown-ups, too) will love tackling an annual festive project and showing off their hard work in time for the big celebration.
5. HOLD A SNOWMAN BUILDING CONTEST
Get your friends, family or neighbors on board with this creative contest by picking a day for the festivities. If there’s no snow outside, think of some clever ways to make snow, or build a snowman out of other objects around the house. After setting the date and rules, everyone has to snap a photo of their creation (or film it), send it to the group and cast votes for their favorite. May the best snowman win!
6. RINGING OF THE BELLS
On Christmas Eve, gather on your doorstep and ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread joy & cheer (and to help Santa fly his sleigh!). After a difficult year for so many, this could be a wonderful memory for kids and communities. End 2020 with a bit of magic, hope & togetherness!
7. YOU’VE BEEN ‘ELF-ed’
Join the fun with this Christmas version of the Halloween ‘BOO’ game. Start the game by secretly leaving a basket of treats at a neighbor or family member’s doorstep. In turn, each recipient is asked to pass the game along to two more friends or neighbors. It's all part of the fun to see holiday cheer spread from door to door. Free printables of the elf signs and poems explaining how to play the game can easily be found on Pinterest & Etsy.
8. HAND MAKE HOLIDAY CARDS
Even if you can’t be together this year, you can still show grandparents, friends and colleagues how much you miss them with a handmade holiday card. Hand-written sentiments are slowly becoming a thing of the past – but don’t let them! Drawings and doodles made with love are the best way to send a ‘hug’ when a physical one is out of reach.
9. HONOR A LOVED ONE
A lovely way to honor loved ones who live far away or who are no longer with us is to make a favorite recipe of theirs. Share stories and memories of enjoying the meal or dessert around the dinner table, or frame a copy of the recipe card in their handwriting as a hanging tribute in your kitchen.
10. VIEW THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Hop in the car and go for a drive around the neighborhood for a fun, socially distant and festive way to celebrate the season. Cozy up with blankets and some Christmas tunes - just don’t forget to bring some snacks and a thermos of cocoa for the ride.
11. CHRISTMAS EVE BOX
A fun & exciting idea for children (and even adults)! Craft or select a “box” that is opened every year on Christmas Eve with all of the essentials…like a new pair of Christmas jammies, a holiday movie or book to read before bed, a keepsake ornament, special note, or a delicious treat. BONUS: For an added twist, throw some yummy spirits in the adult box to add to the eggnog!
12. FESTIVUS (for the rest of us)
If you are a Seinfeld fan, you’ll know about this fun, secular holiday. According to the Seinfeld model, Festivus is celebrated on December 23rd. However, many people celebrate it other days in December and even at other times throughout the year with a Festivus Pole, The Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength. You can check out many websites now dedicated to the holiday as well as purchase Festivus tshirts, sweaters, and even board games!
13. TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT GIVING BACK
The “Santa Sack” tradition is practiced by many – setting out a bag for Santa to fill with toys & goodies on Christmas Eve. The most important part of this tradition is the element of “giving back” where children are asked to pick out toys they own but don't play with anymore to give to other children. These ‘extra presents’ wait for Santa under the Christmas tree (which can later be donated to local shelters or charity). It teaches children that the best part of Christmas is not receiving gifts, but giving them to others, especially those in need.
14. COOK TOGETHER ON CHRISTMAS MORNING
Opening up all those presents sure does whip up an appetite! If you can tear the kids away from their new toys, have everyone help out in the kitchen and make breakfast together. Choose a new recipe each time, or pick your family's favorite dish and make it year after year!
15. BE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT
As we all try to master the perfect holiday, just remember...what makes the holidays special isn’t picture-perfect traditions but memories you’ll recall for years with the people you love most. Keep a journal, photo diary, or video library of the holiday “bloopers” to look back on from year to year. They are sure to drum up some joy & laughter!