They say there’s no place like home for the holidays— but what if your extended family can’t be there with you? Last year, the American Auto Association (AAA) estimated that over 115 million Americans would travel to see friends and family during the holiday season.* This year, even AAA, one of the most reliable predictors of travel statistics, isn’t sure how many Americans will travel. Rising COVID-19 cases are forcing many families to cancel their plans. While staying at home may not be ideal, there are tons of ways to enjoy the holidays and prioritize health and safety.
Decorate your home
Lots of people decorate for the holidays, but this year, look for those wreaths you’ve forgotten about in the attic. Always loved the way lights look on other homes? Want to add a garland to the mantle? Take this winter as an opportunity to upgrade your old decorations and make your home the perfect holiday haven. Try these shopping ideas or check out this list of DIY holiday decorations for inspiration and transform your home to feel extra special this season.
Explore drive-through light shows in your area
Stay in the safety of your car and travel to see the best holiday lights in town. Whether it’s a neighborhood of lit-up homes or a light show nearby, hop in the driver’s seat, turn on the Christmas music and see how your local community celebrates. Feeling more ambitious? Take a day trip with your family to witness the best Christmas light displays in your state.
Organize a Secret Santa over the mail
One of everyone’s favorite holiday activities is Secret Santa. Keep the tradition running this year and plan a gift exchange over the mail! There are even some websites that will organize it for you. All you have to do is list the participants and their email addresses, and the rest will follow. Start with a site like DrawNames or Elfster and give your friends and family something to look forward to on their doorstep.
Finally try your hand at old family recipes
Have your grandmother’s old recipes handy? Reminisce on holidays you experienced as a child and try making those famous pies or casserole dishes your family always raved about growing up. For more, test out these vintage Christmas recipes to get a taste of holiday nostalgia this year.
Become a holiday mixologist
Some people love premade cartons of eggnog, but how about making it yourself? This year, bring out the cocktail shaker and try bartending. Use flavors like cinnamon and cranberry to make excellent holiday-themed cocktails without the cost. Create some of your holiday favorites with this list of classic winter drink recipes.
Order presents early this year
Instead of rushing to the mall at the last minute, stay COVID-friendly and stick to online ordering. By comparing options online, you just might come up with something even better this year. Get inspiration from these holiday gift ideas that anyone would love. Plus, online shopping deals are in full swing. Word of advice, though: order early, and consider picking up curbside.
Sometimes, especially with kids, doing crafts is the best way to pass an afternoon at home. And the best part? You can keep these ornaments forever! Try out these easy homemade ornament ideas for inspiration, and get gluing!
Have a holiday movie marathon
The holidays are all about relaxation, but some years, it can feel more hectic than anything else. Take advantage of your Christmas at home by stretching out on the couch and watching all of your favorites. Try out this streaming guide to see what’s currently available on the major streaming apps this year.
Plan a virtual party
Sure, parties over video chat aren’t exactly ideal, but don’t miss out on those moments with family this year! Set up a video chat with your loved ones for the times you’re opening gifts or sipping on eggnog. Maybe even send an email invitation and make it feel like a real event—without any stress or cleanup!
Every year, tons of families get together and make cookies to leave under the tree for Santa. This season, up your baking game with new recipes. You can even mail your cookies to your loved ones to show you’re thinking of them. Browse through these unique holiday cookie recipes for ideas.
Play interactive games on your TV
Sick of board games? Try something more lively on your TV, where each person in your home uses a smart device to type in answers or draw pictures that show up on the TV screen. Jackbox games are interactive and involve everyone, no game board necessary.
Go to a Christmas tree farm
Instead of heading to a warehouse store for a tree, drive out to a Christmas tree farm and wander around outside with your family. As long as you’re social distancing, this outdoor activity can be a safe way to enjoy the season without putting yourself at risk. You can even cut down your tree to take home!
Give to a toy drive
This year has given us all kinds of challenges. Get into the spirit of giving this holiday season by sharing with others in need. The non-profit organization Toys for Tots allows you to donate from all across the country. Most locations only require you to drop your gifts at the station, so you can stay safe while you give. Find the nearest drop-off spot in your area and help make a difference this year.
No matter where you’re spending the holiday season, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. Whether it means starting new traditions at home or going back to the old ones from childhood, celebrate your time off just as much as every other year. There’s always something you can do to keep the holiday season special.