As everyone knows, 2020 has been a doozy. Coronavirus has stuck around longer than anyone imagined and will inevitably affect this year’s holiday season. Like many families, we’ve decided not to attend our usual gatherings and have canceled a few long-standing traditions in the name of public health.
But, I’m determined to make this year just as magical as all the ones before it. I’ve done some Pinterest digging and have summed my findings into a list of 20 ways we can make this year magical.
1. Decorate the house
I’m usually the minimalist decorator, vowing to give experience and activity more than having 500 Christmas things hanging around the house. But this year, I am doing a total 180. I’m decking the heck out of the house. I have a six- and four-year-old who deserve the magic of a childhood Christmas and I have two foster teens coming who also deserve all the magic we can give. So, I’m wreathing every door and, in the name of Saint Nick, I’m baking cookies every two days.
2. Give me all the smells
Speaking of cookies, the smell of freshly-baked cookies and the warmth of the fire speak to my heart. There are so many ways to bring a holiday aroma in. I often throw some cider in the crockpot with some cinnamon sticks. The smell quickly fills the house and we get something warm to drink.
3. Make videos for loved ones
We have never lived incredibly close to family, so we do this occasionally, but this year is especially important since we are opting out of the large gatherings. I want the kids to feel connected and not miss out on all the love from their favorite people.
4. Decorate your yard for the season (then do #5)
Get some simple lights and drape them over the porch or go all out and throw some of those large air decorations out. The kids absolutely love them and I don’t care what anyone says, they add to the season. I remember being a little girl in Indiana and driving the neighborhood to see the decorations was one of the highlights of the year.
5. Drive the neighborhood
This doesn’t work unless people get on board with #4, but roll the windows down and “woooo” and “ahhhhh” all the neighborhoods in Chatt. Don’t forget to swing by your favorite coffee house for a treat too.
6. Embrace the season of giving
Bake some bread, have the kids knock out some handmade cards, and deliver them to the neighborhood. ‘Tis the season of giving. There are many non-profits that are under on their fundraising goals because of the event restrictions. Reach out and see how you can help.
7. Watch all the Christmas movies
Netflix is cranking out some winners lately and there are so many classics! Ernest Saves Christmas anyone?
8. Shop small
Shopping small is always a great thing to do, but even more now that many are struggling. Take advantage of holiday sales, free shipping and check for the option to buy gift cards are your favorite places.
9. Eat small
Kind of in line with #8, but Chattanooga has already lost a few restaurants to the pandemic. Make sure you are supporting your favorite local spot.
10. Zoom night with the girls/or guys
I’ve done this with a small group of friends and it really is refreshing and so much more of a connection that our gif wars on text provide. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and catch up with some friends.
11. Pair up with a friend and have each other’s kids “write Santa”
There are a few organizations that will have a Santa answer a letter, but why not get a friend to exchange letters and write back? Then you can include personal tidbits to really make it believable.
12. Christmas music at mealtimes
Music is strongly tied to memories (not as much as scent, so see #2 again). Playing something festive in the background during this time can really help build memories. I like to play something instrumental during breakfast and coffee time, and something a little more upbeat during dinner.
13. Talk about the past and future
Make plans and reminisce as a family. I know my six-year-old is fully aware of the difference between 2020 and all the years before. Talking about all the things we have done and all the things we can do in the future has helped her a lot.
14. Find a family that you’re comfortable celebrating with
Chances are, there is at least one family your family is hanging around these days. If you both are planning on sticking close to home for the holidays and still want that big family feel, combine budgets and plan a friend-filled holiday.
15. Home date night with your significant other
We often do drink dates where we (I mean he) mix up a recipe from Pinterest after the kids go to bed. I put on my next Hallmark movie while he holds my feet and surfs TicTok. Best date ever, IMO.
16. Let the kids help shop
Include your kids in on the fun, especially if you have older kids that can shop for younger kids. It really connects them to the magic of Christmas when they are in on it. I also get the kids in on Dad’s gift. We usually do something funny.
17. Family gift exchange
The kids on one side of my family do this every year, only usually in person. This year we are mailing our gifts, but the kids are still super excited nonetheless. They get to give and get something and the anticipation is fun.
18. ‘Smores nights
Fireside and outdoors. If you’re comfortable, invite the neighbors.
We are stringing popcorn, making paper snowflakes and slapping a gingerbread village together this year. Any and every Pinterest craft I can scrounge up supplies for, we are making. This is literally the best way to hit your decoration goals of #1 on the list. Word of advice: don’t do the cranberries. Something went terribly wrong last year.
20. Give and let the kids give
Give your time, your talents, donate to a cause, and talk about it with the kids. This is a great opportunity to let them really take in the true meaning of the season.