While your usual holiday plans of large family get-togethers, grand trips, and exciting (and frenetic) last-minute gift shopping at the tinsel-and-twinkling-lights-filled mall are most likely squashed for this season, there’s no reason that “Home for the Holidays 2020” needs to bring down your spirits. Of course, disappointment is expected, and it’s understandable when those moments of joy that you planned and waited for all year are suddenly just not viable in present circumstances. But the true joy of the holiday season has always transcended that of parades, vacations, and all of the extraneous glitter and gold that usually floats around during the last few months of the year. Above all else, the holidays are about being around those you love and whom make you happy to be celebrating in the first place. And while it is true that we might not have a chance to safely visit every loved one in-person this year, there are almost certainly people in your pod or close inner circle with whom you can make this 2020 at-home holiday a unique and cherished memory. Here are a few quick tips for having yourself a merry little holiday at home!
(Side note: even if you are finding it extra difficult to find the same sense of joy that you usually feel at this time of year, remember that these holidays mark that 2020 is nearly over and you’ve made it! Now that’s surely something worth a bit of celebration and cheer.)
Learn to Adapt Old Traditions & Remember That Some Can Still (Safely) Happen!
Among so very many other things, this year we’ve certainly learned how to be flexible with our expectations and with our plans. Between navigating the virtual world for school and work, creating moments of socially-distanced fun, and the special appreciation that you have for get-togethers now that they are more planned and less frequent and spontaneous, we’ve proven that we’re adaptable, and that our plans can be too. So, if you are feeling a bit of sadness that some of your regular holiday traditions are not practical in the world of the pandemic, you might be despairing prematurely! While it’s true that many of your typical traditions might not look exactly the same as they have in years past, learning to be flexible and to adapt these traditions for our new reality will allow you to hold onto that joy in a year that you might need it the most.
For example, large family get-togethers and potlucks in your traditional indoor setting are probably not the safest way to spread cheer this season. However, small celebrations with those who currently share your living space supplemented with virtual call-ins from more distanced family members can be a way to still be together in celebration. You could even try holiday-appropriate Zoom backgrounds and holiday movie watch parties via Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) or do a synchronous virtual cooking class to still share a meal and have some familiar fun! Another tradition that you might not feel comfortable or safe doing this season is holiday shopping, especially if it is in an enclosed mall. While some shopping malls continue to be open at this time, with fluctuating numbers of cases and the increased risk of infection being indoors, taking in the holiday energy and semi-cheesy decorations with bustling mall shoppers might not be the best option. Instead, if you are in or around NYC, you might consider doing some of your Christmas shopping and holiday-atmosphere-reveling at one of the many holiday markets that are open this year (like the Winter Village at Bryant Park). Not only will you be able to do some shopping in a setting that rings with the spirit of the holidays, but you’ll be able to support some local small businesses by simply buying unique items for those you love most.
There are also some holiday traditions and events that are still realizable in 2020! If you usually cut or choose a real tree for the holidays (as opposed to plastic), many Christmas tree farms will still be opening the week after Thanksgiving! Or, if you’re in the NYC area and your family usually takes a journey out to the Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square to check out their iconic holiday window decorations, it’s sure to spark some joy knowing that they will still be open (starting Nov. 19 to Jan. 1) this season and with a special, 2020-appropriate message of thanks to New Yorkers.
Create and Embrace New Traditions
A little different from adapting old traditions, embracing new ones is just as important to keep spirits up this season! With the hustle and bustle of the usual holiday season, where you might have been hopping from holiday party to holiday party, trying to greet as many people as you could within the window of a few days, try to appreciate the way that this season has brought you back to the basics. Whereas you might not usually have the time to actually take your time in putting up holiday decorations, perhaps this year you could make a small event or day out of it for the people in your household! Pop in some background holiday films or music, grab your decorations from storage, and make merry with a slow and leisurely decorating process. There are also some 2020 pandemic holiday events that might not have been on your radar until now! In and around the NYC area are plenty of holiday-themed drive-thru experiences (such as the LuminoCity Festival or the Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show), which have been around in years past, even if you might not have had the chance to see them. The New York Botanical Garden is even hosting an outdoor light experience called NYBG Glow, which will also have socially distanced holiday performances and activities. Between the lights, the music, and the shared holiday energy these are pandemic-appropriate ways to foster that festive feeling in 2020.
Comfy, Cozy, and Candescent: Ambience is Key
If you’re staring down a holiday absolutely within the now-very-familiar walls of your home, one simple and easy way to make it feel more like the holidays is to create a comfy and cozy atmosphere that amplifies the feelings of the holidays. We’re talking lights, extra fluffy blankets on every sit-able surface, your coziest, most festive pajamas (might we suggest our Daydream or Dreamer collection?), and overall just creating a space for yourself that will help you get into that holiday spirit. Cooking or backing special holiday treats and drinking something warm may also be a must. Lowering the lights or shutting most of them off altogether with just the glow of LEDs or holiday-scented candles to illuminate an intimate meal or relaxation time with your loved ones can really help to create the cozy and calm ambience that we typically associate with the holidays. When you are surrounded by the right atmosphere, amplified by the right people, it can stand as a much-needed reminder that, even during the seemingly darkest of circumstances, life can still be merry and bright.
Give Back This Holiday Season
Cheesy but true: the best gift that you can give this holiday season is one that helps those who are having a particularly rough time. If you are able to this season, donating nonperishable items or money to your local food pantries and shelters, or virtually donating gifts for children to charities with wish-lists on Amazon, can really help to get you in the holiday spirit. And if you find that you are not financially capable of donating your own money this season, perhaps consider donating your time to crisis hotlines or text lines to provide support for victims of domestic violence or those struggling with depression. One very simple, but significant thing that you can give back this season is your thanks and holiday greetings to the essential workers, first responders, and even to those who might not have any family to celebrate with through greeting cards. Everyone is going through something right now, and in the spirit of the holidays, it might be nice to share positive energy with those who might really need it. After all, the spirit of the holidays is, truly, the spirt of giving.