2020 has been the bummer of all bummers this year. And just like Thanksgiving, the rest of the holiday season this year may look a little bit different. But we're not going to let that stop us. There are certainly ways to still get your family into the holiday spirit this year, and it's so needed. I don't know of anyone who couldn't use a bit more holiday cheer right now. These
virtual holiday traditions are definitely still worth it, and will be just as fun, if not more so, than holidays past.
It's not a good idea to sit in Santa's lap this year, so why not bring him to your children in the privacy of their own home? Super bummed about not being able to see your favorite holiday plays or the Nutcracker ballet? You can bring it to your living room — where dressing up is optional. And you can't miss out on driving through some holiday light shows in your area, I think it's the law. Thankfully, this can be done from the safety of your own vehicle, away from everyone else but your family.
This year has been tough — and that's an understatement — so let's try to celebrate the best that we can, and know that soon, the year of 2020 will be behind us, and hopefully we can start fresh in 2021 in more ways than one.
Virtual Holiday Makers Market
While always important, this year it is especially important to shop local and shop small business. Makers who relied on in-person markets for sales are really struggling during this pandemic since most folks aren’t attending in-person events, and small business owners are struggling as well. For your holiday shopping traditions this year, instead of online shopping at the big-box stores or on Amazon, check out the
local Makers Markets instead. Many of them are doing virtual “markets” this year, and that may be a fun way to spend a chilly afternoon while also supporting small business.
U-Chop Christmas Tree Picking
Fly View Productions/E+/Getty Images
It's outside, and if you chop down your own tree, your chances of being around a ton of people get significantly lower. My family just went last weekend and the farm required masks to be worn at all times, even outside, and they had social distancing measures in place for you to chop down your own tree, or even pick one from the lot. Then you stayed in your car with the windows up as they tied it to the roof. And nothing gets you in the holiday spirit more than obtaining and decorating a Christmas tree, right?
Virtual Menorah Lighting For All 8 Nights
Celebrate the festival of lights virtually this year by lighting each candle with family members together over Zoom or Bluejeans call. As long as each family has a menorah, they can light them simultaneously and say the prayer together each of the eight days.
Drive-Thru Holiday Lights
One tradition that is crucial this year is still committing to getting out and driving through the holiday light tours. Everyone needs a break from their house, and what better way to garner some holiday cheer than to go look at beautiful and extravagant holiday light displays all from the socially distanced safety of your own vehicle.
Cameo website is incredible as it allows you to purchase personalized cameos from celebrities and they send you a personal message. My husband’s company was lucky enough to receive a cameo from Kate Flannery from the show The Office, and I think your children would be just as stoked to receive a Cameo from Santa Claus himself this year, especially since they can’t visit him in person for now.
Going door to door and "spreading holiday cheer" via air droplets is definitely not COVID safe, so perhaps this year you can create a video of your family singing your favorite holiday songs and post it on social media, or you can create a virtual conference with other families and everyone takes turns leading holiday songs. There's also the fun option of using the video option on Zoom and playing a karaoke-style version of a holiday song, complete with rolling lyrics, so you can have a festive round or two of holiday karaoke.
The ultimate social distancing activity that everyone seemed to be partaking in this year was baking. Baking all the bread, all the cakes, and all the pies. Well, at least this particular holiday tradition doesn't have to change this year, right? For an added virtual bonus, you can set up a laptop or tablet in the kitchen with you and your family, and another family can share a cookie recipe and bake simultaneously.
Hangouts Christmas Movie Viewing
Since the beginning of this mess, there are several
ways to watch movies together virtually with family and friends. Check some of them out and watch all of your holiday favorites together while still socially distancing.
Virtual Holiday Paint Party
Virtual paint parties have recently become a thing in 2020 as well, and there are different
guided painting classes around the country offering virtual events with an artist. Paint the Town is available to everyone all over the U.S., offering virtual holiday painting parties straight to your living room.
Virtual Viewing Of
The Nutcracker Ballet
Video Chat With Santa In Real Time
Since it's definitely
not safe to visit Santa this year, maybe opt for a video chat with Santa instead. JingleRing offers an interactive experience with St. Nick, and you can even chat with him and Mrs. Claus in real time. For $25, you can have up to four other people join the chat, and you can even customize Santa and Mrs. Claus — including their ethnicity, language, and faith preferences.
Virtual Holiday Slideshow
Do you have some holiday photos you'd love to share with family members you can't be with right now? Zoom and BlueJeans have options for you to share photo slideshows, and even videos with the group so everyone is watching in real time. You can even take photos of holiday lights you've seen around the neighborhood to have your own little festival of lights in your own home.
Socially Distanced Holiday Story Time With Family
Have every household on the call pick their favorite holiday short story to read aloud and share with the group for a virtual festive holiday evening.
Virtual Tans-Siberian Orchestra Live Stream Watch Party
My husband and his entire family, including his grandma, would go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert every Christmas. And now they won't have to miss it, thanks to
this live stream of the fantastic event.
Gingerbread House Building Competition
Make sure everyone in the group has the same materials (no cheating) and build gingerbread houses live in front of the tablet, and at the end have a non-biased judge decide who has the best gingerbread house. It will basically be like the holiday baking shows on Food Network.
Virtual Viewing of
Elf the Musical
Watching the movie
Elf is a must during the holidays, but make it even more special (and help a local opera house) by streaming from the Bastrop Opera House's website this year. Remember, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Elf The Musical
Virtual Family Game Nights
Family game night on Christmas Eve is another fun tradition we just can't give up. Some games will be easier than others to play virtually, but you can support a small business and have everyone in the family purchase these
holiday family bingo cards from this Etsy shop. Then get on a Zoom call and play the game! Squares include "Is a grandmother," "Lives farthest away," "Is an only child," etc.
Donating to charities is one holiday tradition my family has held onto for many years, and thankfully, this one can always be done from the safety of your own home. Check out
this website to find local charities near you.
Virtual Viewing of
A Christmas Carol at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre
One of my favorite Christmas movies is the original
Scrooge, but I think this audio version of may just tie for first place. It will be like sitting around the old radio in the living room and listening to your stories back in the day. A Christmas Carol at Chicago's Goodman Theatre
Write Holiday Cards For The Elderly
When I was in elementary school, we would always make holiday cards and have them delivered to the local nursing homes to brighten the residents' stay. You could totally do this at home, too, and maybe even include a little bit about your family in there so they know more about the people behind the card. I know it will make someone's day.