Merry (COVID) Christmas: Getting Through An Unusual Holiday Season

The holidays are here again, and despite all the ways the holidays are going to look different this year, I’m still feeling the holiday cheer and getting into the Christmas spirit. The holidays might be looking different for many of us this season. Whether money is tighter than normal, a spot at the holiday dinner table will be left empty, or you just aren’t able to travel to see your loved ones this year, the holidays don’t have to be about what’s missing. Instead it can be a great time to reflect and express your gratitude for what you have. Be grateful for what is, what was, and what is to come. To help you focus on the good this Christmas, I wanted to share a few ideas I’ve had to stay jolly and spread holiday cheer as we navigate an unusual holiday season.

Stay Connected

If you remember back to the early days of quarantine, we can be alone, together. Technology gives us a great edge to do so, but there are other ways to reach out too. If you’re having a hard time feeling connected to friends and family this holiday season, try out one or two of these!

Virtual Wine Tasting: It’s fun to have a happy hour over FaceTime, but you and your friends & family can actually host organized wine tastings virtually! I haven’t tried this myself, but I saw someone else do it and I think it’s a great idea. It’s not too late to make it happen for New Years too!

Send Christmas Cards: This is a great way to let anyone and everyone know that they’re on your mind this holiday season after a difficult year. It’s a simple gesture, but don’t underestimate just how much it can brighten someone’s day to receive holiday mail.

Get Gifts: Even if your Christmas celebrations are smaller this year, it’s nice to still get gifts for everyone you normally would. Yet another way to let someone know that despite not being together, they’re still on your mind right now. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, so it doesn’t have to be anything large. This is a nice way to feel connected yourself, but also a great way to reach out and make sure that your loved ones are feeling connected this Christmas too.

Uphold Traditions

My mom was a huge presence at Christmas time, it was her favorite time of year and she always went all out. It’s going to be so starkly different without her, but she did sow within in me the same love of the holiday season. This time of year is all about family, togetherness, gratitude, and tradition. It’s such a treasured time, so I’m trying to keep up some of our family’s traditions. For my family, this means Christmas morning holiday cocktails. Here are some other, more common traditions that you can uphold despite all the other things that have changed this year.

Bake Cookies: My mom was HUGE into baking cookies during the holidays. Even though we were far from our Santa believing days, we would bake dozens of different types of cookies by the dozen. Snickerdoodles, spritz, sugar cookies, gingerbread, or plain ole chocolate chip, whatever floats your boat! My favorite part about baking cookies is packaging them up in tins or bags and passing them out to neighbors.

Build a Gingerbread House: Building a gingerbread house is as easy as a quick trip to Target for a kit, then back home to assemble! Throw on a Christmas movie or music, break out the hot cocoa or spiked egg nog, and get decorating. The fun part about building a gingerbread house is you can do it with just the people in your household, or you can organize to do it with others virtually! Make it fun, have a competition to see who’s turns out the best!

Create New Traditions

One new tradition my family has started particularly to honor my mom during this season is decorating a wreath that sits at her gravesite. This year her wreath is adorned with ornaments like miniature Minnie Mouse ears, a glass starfish, and a camper van to symbolize her love for travel. I love this new tradition, and I can’t wait to see how her wreaths look different over the years. Here are two other traditions I’m taking up this year.

Gift a Wreath: It’s like sending flowers, but for Christmas! I decided to send wreaths as gifts for the first time this year to aunts, uncles, and family friends. I was surprised to find how absolutely delighted the recipients were. It’s a unique gift, and perhaps something that can make a good annual gift!

Be Charitable: Even if it’s been a hard year for you, it’s been an even harder year for someone else. There are so many ways to give back during this time of year, and it’s rewarding to know you’re brightening someone’s holiday. Whether it’s cleaning out your closet to donate coats, participating in a toy or food drive, or making cash donations towards a charity as a gift, there are plenty of ways to be charitable. And of course, this wouldn’t be a bad tradition to carry through the years.

I hope some of these ideas inspired you to get spread more holiday cheer, despite the trials of this year. For some more holiday fun, check out my podcast’s Holiday Happy Hour!