It’s finally here! The most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is a beloved holiday for many. It’s a cherished time where traditions bring families and friends together, gifts are given and received, and there is a little extra time to focus on the most important things in life. Or at least that should be the case. The stresses of the holidays can also make it the most difficult time of year. Everyone has had to face intense and overwhelming changes during 2020 that make some of their normal Christmas traditions impossible. Some families will have no budget to spend on lots of gifts, others will have loved ones they cant see due to illness and mandatory isolation. Some of you might be the ones isolated!
If you need some inspiration on how to make this Christmas the most memorable (in a good way), you have come to the right place! Gather your loved ones who are in your direct household and discuss with them what Christmas really means to them. What do they really love about this time of year and what would make it the most special? Often, when given the choice, children will choose to spend quality time with their family over receiving lots of gifts. With that being said, here are 10 new Covid-friendly Christmas traditions to include in your family celebration!
Make sure to follow all CDC guidelines to help your family stay safe.
1. Cut down your own Christmas tree
Most national forests allow users to harvest trees for personal use firewood and Christmas trees, but you must first have a Forest Service-issued permit and you must follow specific guidelines, which can vary from forest to forest. This tradition requires the necessary licensing, a commitment to hiking to find the perfect tree, and a little bit of lumberjack swag. Depending on where you are, cutting the tree could change the price of the permit but most locations average around $10. You will need to bring warm clothes, good shoes, a trusty axe or saw, and the means to attach the tree to your vehicle.
Choosing your Christmas tree from the wild is so awesome because you can get any kind of tree you want! Need your tree to be tall and bushy? Nature’s got it! Rather have a scrawny Charlie Brown tree? Nature has that one, too! Your options are are endless! At home every time you sit in the glow of your hand picked tree you, will remember the wonderful family time you had together picking it out. For additional guidelines please refer to the USDA website through this link.
2. Make a short film by dressing up and acting out Luke chapter 2
What could be more sweet than watching your little ones come together and do a live action nativity scene? There are shepherds, wise men, the angels, and animals. It is absolutely the most tender tradition to enjoy this season, one that will bring warmth and joy into the hearts of anyone who sees it. In order to provide that tender joy consider recording your family nativity scene to send and share with others who are unable to be there in person. Years later, when your little ones are all grown they will love to see themselves reverently celebrating and coming together.
3. Gather extended family on a video conference call and exchange Christmas stories
My grandpa was a rugged Idaho farm boy who got into more mischief than 10 regular children his age. He was the best storyteller and always left us in stitches from the memories he’d share. He passed away 2 years ago and oh how I miss the sound of his gruff voice! We have some video and recording of him telling his classic tales and we listen to them often and ache to hear more. If I had the chance, I would record every single one of his stories so my children and I could enjoy them for generations. Your parents and grandparents have memories, traditions, and stories that are immensely special and worth hearing and recording. The time you have with them now is so sacred and valuable. There will come a day when they wont be here and you will want to know all their stories and traditions. Make sure you record your conversation so you can save it for years to come!
4. Christmas movie marathon
Every Christmas Eve and day the movie ” A Christmas Story” would play on repeat. I love that movie and our family quotes it all year long! But this year we plan to watch as many classic Christmas and holiday movies as possible. After years of faithfully watching the same movie nonstop, I am ready to enjoy more festive options the season brings. If you would like to join us here is a list of 12 classic holiday movies to watch the 12 days leading up to Christmas.
1. Elf 2. The Polar Express 3. It’s a Wonderful Life 4. Home Alone 5. A Christmas Story 6. Miracle on 34th Street 7. The Grinch 8. The Nutcracker 9. A Christmas Carol 10. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer 11. A Charlie Brown Christmas 12. The Nightmare before Christmas
5. Write letters to loved ones you miss
Have you seen someone get an actual letter in the mail? Their face lights up and they cant help but smile and they haven’t even read the card yet! Amidst all the bills, ads, and coupons, finding that someone actually took the time to write you is second only to getting money in the mail! If you want to do something simple but have a profound impact, write letters to your loved ones and tell them how much you like them and appreciate them.
6. Make favorite holiday treats and try new recipes
This year is a great time to teach your kids how to make your family’s favorite holiday recipes. You could even get grandma involved by video chatting with her while making her recipes in both houses at the same time. Or try a new recipe. Who knows–it could be a new favorite that becomes a beloved tradition!
7. Sibling Secret Santa gift exchange
I love this game because it gets your kids creatively thinking kindly about each other. If contention is running high and everyone is fighting, activate Sibling Secret Santa. Put all their names in a hat and make them draw one each. They have to show you the parent the name to ensure they didn’t draw themselves. Create some guidelines to the game, for example 3 acts of kindness and 1 $10-15 gift. Then let their happy brains get to work. The entire feeling in the home will begin to change. Openly encourage and support them for their good ideas and kind actions. Turn the focus to the joy they feel secretly doing good things for people who sometimes can be the hardest to love.
8. White elephant doorbell ditch
This one is most fun when a bunch of families in the neighborhood are in on it and open to it. The game is simple, everyone makes or puts together a secret gift and leaves it at the house of someone else. The family can choose to keep it, leave it on the porch, or exchange it for a different neighbor’s gift. If you open the gift you must keep it! If the family keeps it they must put out a new gift in its spot (or re-wrap the old one you didn’t want). One gift per house. If there is already a gift on the porch you cannot leave another one. This charade continues till everyone has kept a gift or the predetermined day everyone decided on comes. It’s hilarious and silly and a wonderful opportunity to finally re-gift the fruit cake you got last year. Always be safe and do your best to sanitize (if applicable) what you give and social distance when delivering and receiving. For another fun twist, check out our ideas for a virtual white elephant party!
9. Zoom call with Santa
If you can’t meet Santa in person at the mall, get him on a conference call! This one is so sweet and fun. By this point most kids are pretty accustomed to video chats and conference calls. Its reasonable to believe Santa knows how to do that too! Schedule a video chat with Santa at the North Pole! You can ask him questions, talk about how his reindeer are doing, and hear silly stories of his favorite elves, not to mention tell him exactly what you want for Christmas.
10. Minute to Win It Christmas Edition
Minute to win it games are a fun, exciting, and inexpensive option to get out all the wiggles and safely compete against each other! There are so many variations and examples online of Christmas editions of the game. Most of the time you will have what you need already in your home but if you need to pick up a couple things you can generally find them at the dollar store. Here are some winter themed options for your minute to win it tournament. Get your extended family and friends involved by challenging them to compete over video chat!
11. “Yes” Day
It’s a “Yes” kind of day! Kids hear “No” all the time and it can be pretty defeating. So many awesome and exciting new activities can get shot down simply because it doesn’t fit into the routine of the day. For this Christmas dedicate 1 day per child as a “Yes ” day! Within reason, anything they want to do you say “Yes” and find a way to make it work! They want peanut butter and spaghetti for breakfast? That’s what they get! They want to play a computer game with you; you play the computer game! If they want to go on a walk dressed in daddy’s shoes and mommy’s coat, you parade them around like the little fashionista they are! Give them creative freedom and endless support and it will surprise you the joy and fun you will have letting their creativity lead the way.
12. Create a time capsule
If there is ever a year to a remember its certainly 2020! There are so many memorable things that happened this year and there are so many lessons learned. Gather as a family and discuss all the things that made this year memorable from good to bad. Gather items that represent of these experiences and create a time capsule. A face mask, a roll of toilet paper, election memorabilia, hand sanitizer, flash-drive of pictures of family highlights, recipes of bread you learned to bake, news paper clippings, an origami bee for the murder hornets, books you read, really anything that meant something to you would be great to include. When it’s done and sealed, you can bury it in the back yard, or hide it in a back closet and set a reminder to retrieve it in 10-15 years.
13. Play Christmas Telephone Pictionary
Here is how to play and what you need!
A paper for everyone and color pencils, crayons, markers and a 30 second timer.
- Each player writes a Christmas themed sentence on the sheet and passes the sheet counterclockwise.
- The players now draw what the previous player has written in the sentence then folds the top of the sheet down so that only their drawing is seen.
- The sheet is passed to the left again.
- The players now write a sentence describing the drawing and fold the sheet so only their sentence is seen.
- The sheet gets passed around in the same manner until there is no room for writing or drawing on the sheet.
- Open the sheets and compare original sentences with final drawings and have fun laughing at the transformation.
Just like regular telephone, messages rarely end up where they started. I have laughed till my stomach hurt playing this game because of how completely off track things have gone. Its hilarious and adorable and everyone in the family will love how silly and quirky their creations become.
14. Dance party/contest to holiday music
I love Christmas music, not everyone does. One way that everyone can celebrate is by creating a funny dance to celebrate or make fun of a favorite Christmas jingle. Now with Youtube and Tiktok coming up with choreography or dance moves everyone can do it is simple. There are always trends and challenges you can participate in and if you don’t know where to start just ask your teen you want to “create a tiktok” with them and they will know what to do! Play this with your immediate family or over video chat with anyone else! It’s a great way to have a virtual celebration.
15. Create and deliver care packages to people who are isolated or lonely
My sister and her family live very far away from us and often I feel sad I can’t be there to celebrate special occasions with them. One time, I went to the dollar store and picked out $30 worth of fun and cute toys, treats, and knickknacks I knew her and her kids would love and shipped it to them in a flat rate box. I made sure I got my money’s worth out of that it and absolutely stuffed it full off goodies. A couple days later I got a call from her opening the box with her kids. It was so special to see their faces light up and get so excited over all the things I sent them. I am sure you also know others who feel lonely and sad and creating a holiday care package would really cheer them up and give them a special reason to celebrate.
16.Cut out snow flakes
17. Play Christmas bingo
18. Create a North Pole pillow fort
19. Make a gratitude list and plan for the new year
20. Make your own nativity/ gingerbread houses
21. Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter
22. Make Christmas decorations
23. Go sledding
24. Leave cash and a Christmas note on peoples car windshield
25. Do a chore for someone
26. Support small and locally owned businesses
27. Donate extra blankets and towels in an animal shelter and visit the animals
28. Take a treat to the police or fire station
29. help the kids decorate their own rooms
30. Go on a family outing together
31. Make a Christmas craft
32. Sing Christmas carols over Zoom with nursing home residents
33. Make a family documentary about how you survived 2020 and all that you have learned and are grateful for
34. Play your favorite board games
35. Ugly sweater/ Pajama party
A lot of these activities include serving others or doing fun and silly things with or for people you care about. That’s because the greatest joy that can be felt this season comes from making memories and helping others. Material things fade and rust, and life will always have new challenges for us to face. When we look back on this crazy year it won’t be the intense things we remember most, but the people we loved and the moments we chose to make it a little better.
With all the adjustments to our regular lives this season, take time to reflect on the extraordinary silver lining of it all. While you discuss with your family about all the good that came from the year 2020 and what matters the most, make some goals and discuss some dreams for 2021. The greatest gift you give yourself this year will be the promise of a better tomorrow and a brighter new year.