After the taxing events of 2020, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, like good health, the love of family and friends, and whatever personal victories you may have achieved in the last nine months. While you may not be able to visit Christmas fairs or go skating at the local ice rink, there are still many ways to get into the festive spirit, all from the comfort of your home.
Turn Your Home Into a Winter Wonderland
If you usually don’t decorate or only do the bare minimum, this is the year to go all out. If there’s a safe way to procure a live tree, set one up in your living room. The festive smell of pine will fill your home and kick off the festive feeling. Depending on what doctrine you subscribe to, you may choose not to decorate the tree with ornaments and lights. The most important thing is the symbolism of it. In my household, we like to load up the tree with as many lights and ornaments as it will bear without toppling over, crowning it all with an angel. Trimming the tree takes me down memory lane every year, each ornament possessing its own unique origin story.
If evergreen conifers aren’t your thing, garlands made from pine branches are usually available for purchase wherever trees are sold and can be wound around banisters or draped over doorways. Synthetic versions are an option as well.
Don’t neglect your home’s exterior! Throw some net lights over the shrubs outside, stick a wreath on the front door, and maybe a couple of reindeer wire sculptures. Have fun with it. Your decorations should be a form of self-expression as well as something that will bring you joy. If you have young children, crafting homemade decorations and putting them up could be a fun activity to enjoy.
Have a Christmas Eve Movie Night
For many families, a trip to the movie theaters on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is a regular tradition. Unfortunately, with rising infection rates and a second wave of business closings, that may not be a possibility this year. However, this doesn’t mean that you and your loved ones can’t indulge in festive holiday traditions at home.
In some ways, a movie night at home is even better than the theater experience. You can rock your comfiest loungewear or pajamas, pause for pee breaks, sprawl out in your comfiest position—and you don’t have to pay premium prices for basic snacks. (Try one of these yummy munchies instead.) Also, you’re not limited to certain kinds of food, so go ahead, chow down on a bowl of chili or an aromatic rice bowl. There’ll be no moviegoers turning around to give you the evil eye, and the cherry on top of it all will be not having to wear a mask or worrying about exposure to the virus.
Bake Christmas Treats
Frosted snowman cookies, peppermint bark, and apple pie are treats that instantly conjure up images of the season. The yum factor isn’t the only thing that makes holiday baking so special; it’s also about the feeling of pride that comes with making things from scratch and the sentiment of togetherness with your loved ones when it’s done.
If you have children, baking holiday-themed cookies could be a fun bonding activity that will go on to become cherished memories, while imparting a bit of culinary skill. For the adults, recreate some of your favorite desserts, try out one of those scrumptious-looking recipes on Pinterest, or create your own version of the Great British Bake Off in your kitchen. Personally, I’d like to replicate Mary Berry’s passion fruit cheesecake.
Get Caught Up in the Mystery of Secret Santa
Choosing a Secret Santa for a gift exchange option this year is a great choice for a couple of reasons. For one, it takes the pressure off everyone to think up ideas and purchase individual gifts, especially in a large family. Second, it adds an air of mystery that builds up to the day of the exchange.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are online platforms that match participants up, allow for the creation of wish lists, etc. Elftser, for example, allows for anonymous Q&As so you can really figure out the details of your gift, such as what size shirt the person you’re gifting wears or what colors they prefer. Instead of being a regular Christmas morning gathering, employing the Secret Santa tradition will add a bit of excitement, which I think we all sorely need this year.
Send Cards to Loved Ones
This year, everyone could use a reminder that someone is thinking of them, and a heartfelt greeting card is one of the simplest ways to do that. Photo cards might be particularly meaningful to people who have been kept apart by the pandemic. Or you could go for the classic Hallmark card with warm wishes for a cozy holiday.
According to a recent survey by an online invitation company, 60% of customers plan to send out cards this year, up from 38% in 2019. Even Etsy is reporting an increase in the number of searches for holiday cards this year. There’s a greater need to connect with those we hold dear this year, the increased sense of urgency driven by the evanescence that has permeated every waking moment since the pandemic swept across the globe.
Customize the season with whichever traditions and practices bring you the most comfort. And through it all, stay safe and make the most of it.