10 Sanity Savers for a Happy Holiday

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2020 doesn’t do anything by the books. And the holidays are no exception. But before you get down about your Blue Christmas or how different Hanukka looks this year, don’t fret. We got this, right? Sure it won’t be the same not cramming 50 second cousins into your house for Thanksgiving, but look on the bright side, less dishes and less family fights…maybe? Okay, it may be a challenge to find a silver-lining to this year’s upheaval, but the holiday show must go on, so here’s 10 ways to make this year’s festive season full of at least a few family fun moments and memories. 

Plan a Virtual Holiday Visit from Santa

Lots of malls this year will be hosting Santa (much to the relief of some kids) behind plexiglass shields. No sitting on Santa’s lap this year, folks. But if the idea of standing in line to talk to Santa behind glass doesn’t sound appealing in today’s environment, like so many things in life now, there’s a virtual option. Folks old enough to remember those North Pole hotlines from the 80s might get some nostalgia from this concept. JingleRing allows you to video call with Santa. Described as more like North Pole TV than a Zoom conference, the performance has options for special needs kids, a variety of cultural options, and photos included. 

Tighten Your Zoom Circle

We’ve all been on massive, overwhelming Zoom calls. And few people recall them fondly. Instead it’s usually a mash-up of lagging connections, under-the-chin views of otherwise occupied attendees, and a cacophony of interruptions. To slow things down, try hosting more intimate Zoom dinners with a select group of family members and limit it to around five or six people. This way everyone gets to talk and have time for conversation, rather than just greetings and mostly sitting waiting for your chance to get a word in.

Deck the Pandemic Halls

2020 will certainly be a year to remember, or more likely, hope we forget. But to give everyone some holiday cheer, have fun shopping for holiday-themed face masks and pandemic-inspired tree ornaments. Our favorites include the holiday characters face masks from Rock’Em face mask or a light-up version which will make any holiday tree slightly jealous. Have fun shopping for specially-themed 2020 ornaments that are sure to be interesting family heirlooms in years to come. Porcelain rolls of toilet paper hung with care or a string of Coronavirus Christmas balls will be the perfect addition to any 2020 tree.  

Zoom Games to Keep the Convo Going

Zoom is probably how you’ll be meeting up with most or all of your family members this year, and there’s no reason for an online family get together to not be memorable. Don’t just sit there exchanging awkward silences, have everyone play a fun game of Pictionary, Guess who?, Bingo, or Scattergories.

Outdoor Holiday Activities

It’s too dangerous to be cooped up indoors with in-laws and distantly related cousins this holiday season (who knows where they’ve been?), so it’s time to get bundled up and take it outside. Take a walk and look at the home holiday decorations in your neighborhood, go downtown and watch the lighting of the tree, or find out if your city is hosting any pandemic-specific holiday activities. For example, Philadelphia is hosting Winter on Broad Street at the Wells Fargo Center, which will include a wonderland of lights combined with outdoor shopping and dining.

Virtual Classes to Stay Connected

This year we can’t do much of the same activities with the family that we have in years past, like trimming the tree, preparing the big meal, cookie exchanges, Secret Santas, or holiday cocktail parties. Things are different now, and we have to adapt to make it work. One way is to join in some virtual social events, such as online classes. For instance, you can gather up your sister, Aunt Mildred, and Grandma and sign up for a cooking class on Spice Culture Cooking, where they host public, group, and private interactive cooking lessons.

Painless Video Calls

Want to enhance the video calls this year. Instead of having everyone in the room crowd over your tiny laptop screen, consider using an HDMI cable to send the video to TV so everyone can see easily. The experience will be even better if you have a webcam that you can set up somewhere in the room so that everyone gets to be in the video feed. One tip: connect your laptop or computer to the router with an ethernet cable so you’ll have a more stable connection that you might with wireless. Have an older family that may not be so tech savvy? Stay connected with them by giving them an Amazon Echo Show, which allows for easy quick linkup on video call.

Host Holiday Dinner – Outside

Dining indoors with the whole extended family just isn’t an option this year. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still get together with Uncle Phil and Aunt Marjorie. Consider renting a picnic pavilion or hosting dinner on your patio or deck. Pavilions usually have a big fire pit, so you can make a big fire to keep everyone warm, bring blankets and games for the whole family to enjoy.

Cookie Decorating Kits

Keeping kids entertained through the holidays can be a challenge. With the absence of trips to grandmother’s house and visits with friends, everyone is sure to be getting a severe case of cabin fever this year. If you’re feeling overwhelmed between working from home and homeschooling, and don’t feel like taking on the added work of full on holiday baking, skip to the fun part — decorating, with a pre-made cookie decorating kit. Check with your local bakery but if you’re looking to go with online orders, how about the Manischewitz Chanukah House, a cool new twist on the classic Gingerbread house, using vanilla cookie, so kids will actually want to eat this building post-construction. There’s also a slew of cookie decorating kits on Etsy to check out

Get the Conversation Going

Zoom calls tend to get a bit stale after the first few minutes, and people quickly run out of pleasantries and family updates to share with the rest of the family. To combat that, try picking up a conversation starter kit that includes tons of topics and questions that people can share with each other to get people talking about past and future events and cherished family memories. Try Our Moments’ Family Conversation Starters to get even the kids involved.

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