“We’re in a very difficult time, it presents a wonderful opportunity to be creative, put family and friendship first, and celebrate the good things we have. During this once-in-a-generation moment, it’s an act of love to keep your friends and families safe—for as long as it takes.” ~ Richard C. Wender, MD
There’s no place like home for the holidays, especially this year.
The Ontario Government has recently recommended that all Ontarians spend the holidays with only those inside their homes (unless you live alone, in which case you can join another household) and follow all public health guidelines.
However, despite these restrictions, you can still celebrate the holidays—but it will need to be done a bit differently this year. In this article, we will provide you with some unique ideas that you can implement into your plans for the holiday season this year.
Find Joy in the Different
Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin recently stated that, “this exceptional holiday season will probably be more memorable because it’s so different. We just have to find the way to make the most of it.”
Although at this point in the pandemic, you might be tired of the people in your home. Shake things up this holiday, by trying to set this season apart from your regular routines. Instead of doing a traditional advent calendar, why not fill each day with festive activities that you can do together? Here’s some ideas you can do together to get you started:
- Watch a holiday video
- Read a festive book
- Enjoy a hot chocolate (why not add whipped cream or other toppings like candy canes, cinnamon, caramel sauce, etc.?)
- Bundle up and go for a walk/drive to see the decorations around your neighbourhood (here’s a free scavenger hunt list to add to the fun)
- Play a board game or do a puzzle
- Do a craft (here’s some ideas for Hanukkah and other holiday DIY ideas)
- Donate to a charity
Health minister Christine Elliot has mentioned that families who want to celebrate together (but who live in different households) should gather outside, while maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks (bonus points for holiday themed masks). Consider moving your gatherings to the daytime to keep everyone more comfortable and skip the hugs, kisses and handshakes this year.
Try some of these activities outside:
- Decorate outdoors (if you’re going to put ornaments outside make sure they are shatterproof and use twist ties or florist’s wire to secure them no matter the weather)
- Go sledding, tobogganing or snowshoeing
- Make s’mores (make sure you follow your areas fire guidelines/rules)
- Make a snowperson or snow fort
- Have a drive-by holiday parade
“Think about what is the essence of the holiday for you, so you can try and preserve it. Even if you’re not doing everything you used to, you can set up the holiday decorations, if that’s really important, or make the special foods you love.” ~ Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home
The safest way to visit with people outside your home is to go virtual. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Here are some ideas to add some more merry to your virtual gathering:
- Host a cookie decorating party—if you are in close proximity to your loved ones, send each family member a cookie decorating kit or gingerbread house and get creative making them together on Zoom.
- Matching PJs—Even though you are not celebrating in person, you can still match. Send everyone matching holiday pajamas ahead of time and take a photo on Zoom to commemorate the day.
- Watch a holiday movie—Use Netflix Party or another streaming service to watch a movie together.
- Do a gift exchange—Use a website like Draw Names to do a gift exchange. Open them up together on camera. You can also make this into a game by leaving clues in the package about who you are, leaving others to guess who the ‘gifter’ is.
- Virtual games night and conversation starters—Check out these ideas for virtual games you can play over Zoom, as well as conversation starters so there is no lag in the conversation.
Ideas for Celebrating the Holidays Alone
As mentioned above, even though the guidelines for Ontario have stated that if you live by yourself, you’re allowed to join another household for the holidays, there may be some instances where you might be alone this holiday season.
Before we get into our ideas for how to make your holidays special, it’s first important for you to acknowledge that just because you are alone for the holidays it does not mean that no one cares about you or that you will always be alone, this is just a moment in time and that’s okay. Here are some holiday ideas for you:
- Practice self-care: Enjoy a book and a mug filled with your favourite holiday beverage. Make it extra cozy by sitting near a fireplace or checking out this virtual yule log.
- Settle down for a long winter’s nap: Take this opportunity to have a nap from all the COVID fatigue you may be experiencing.
- Watch your favourite shows/movies: What a perfect opportunity to catch up on all your favourite shows and movies. Here’s a list of what’s coming to Netflix in December or check out your local library ahead of time for movie rentals.
- Make a special meal: There is no rule that says you have to have multiple people to cook a special meal. Gather the ingredients you need ahead of time to make your favourite dish (and dessert) and serve on your best china if you have some available.
- Give yourself a gift: If you have a little extra budget this year, purchase a little something for yourself.
- Travel the World from Your Couch: There are all sorts of worldwide tours that you can do online (many are free) of museums, monuments and even space stations. Check out our article for a list of the various tours available.
- Perform an act of kindness: Check in with local charities and organizations to see if they could use your help over the holidays. You can also perform a small act of kindness for someone in your neighbourhood.
- Build a pillow fort—then have a holiday movie marathon inside
- Send out holiday cards and letters—there is not a more perfect time to send out holiday cards or letters to your loved ones. Purchase fancy stationary if you can to jazz it up or get your kids to draw a picture.
- Work together on a shared project—Start a project chain with family and friends, so you can work collectively on something despite the fact that you are apart. Some examples of this include making a holiday ornament or treat for one family, send it to the next house where they can then do it for another family and so on. You can also have each family design a square and then put them all together when you’re able to gather next or pass a gratitude jar between families filling them with notes of what you are grateful for.
- Document the holidays—Even though everything with the pandemic might be extremely overwhelming, take time to jot down some notes and take pictures of this year’s celebrations. It is a great way to preserve this moment in history.
No matter what you end up doing this holiday, we hope you can make the most of this unprecedented time, while making memories in the process. Stay safe.