You’ve probably seen all the hype right now about people putting up their Christmas trees already. Any other year, I’d be thinking that it is too early for all of that. It actually was previously a big pet peeve of mine that people would go from Halloween to Christmas and act like Thanksgiving didn’t exist. I have a whole box of decorations that are just for Thanksgiving, in fact. But this year I’ve changed my tune. This year, I get it.
The big reason most people are swinging into the Christmas spirit early this year is because it’s been a sucky one. Just when you get excited about something, it seems to blow up right in front of you. Halloween was a little disappointing this year. Thanksgivings will likely be smaller and not include extended family traveling for many. However, Christmas is a whole season full of different fun opportunities and a little bit of magic. It’s just that kind of magic that we could all use. So people are throwing trees up early this year more than ever before in hopes that it lifts their spirit and gives them the warm feeling that the holidays radiate.
I am one of those people who did throw up the tree already. A combination of me not wanted to put a tree up once my third trimester of pregnancy hits and needed a little extra cheer around the house caused me to completely flip my position on the “it’s too early for Christmas” debate.
There is still a whole group of people that aren’t on board with this notion- and to each their own! No judgement here. I want to offer you who are not ready for the holiday tree an alternative that can still spread the cheer without trailing glitter and broken ornaments through your home.
We all deserve an extended holiday this year but there are a thousand ways to do that. Here are eight of my ideas.
1. Themed Nights at Home
I’m giving you my best idea first. I LOVE a good theme. One of the reasons I probably love Christmas so much is everything seems to have a theme about it. Now you don’t have to pick a Christmas theme of course. Themed nights at home could mean anything. From Wednesday being homemade pizza night to Friday’s being pillow fort night.
Theming an evening at home is a great way to feel like you’re switching things up without having to be extravagant. It’s like a little party to help break up the week. The best part about this is there is no rules and it can always be different. Maybe you even just designate one day during the week and pick a new theme each week for that day. One week it’s pioneer day! No technology, just you and the family with books, board games and snacks. The next, it’s 80’s night. Play some vinyl and watch some 80’s classics with your roomie.
Theme nights are a sure fire way to bring some of the holiday magic to any day of the week.
2. Day Trips
This one might take a little more planning and probably has to be limited to a weekend depending on your occupation and lifestyle but it’s still a great way to find those smiles that the holidays naturally bring.
This isn’t news to anyone. There has been a pandemic this year. Flying hasn’t exactly been the safest, although I do acknowledge lots of people are still doing it. But those who are immunocompromised, pregnant, take care of someone elderly or are just being cautious have had all their traveling plans ruined this year. Day trips are perfect to itch that scratch.
Staying in your own car to travel is not only more safe at this moment but also quite the money saver. It even saves you some stress. (No worrying about packing everything lightly, traffic to the airport, making it through security, accidently having a security no-no in the bottom of your bag etc.) We happen to be blessed with an INCREDIBLE location that makes these day trips even more practical. There is a lot to choose from that is driving distance.
Right now it’s fall which means in some places of Arizona the leaves are just gorgeous. Drive a little further and you can hit Nevada, California, or New Mexico and explore a whole new state. It’s a great time of year to find those hidden hiking trails and discover a gem unseen by many. Our vasts mountains and red rocks make a couple hours in the car worth it for just about any outdoor lover.
We’ve got more than the outdoors for us here though. If little shoppes or interesting towns are more your taste try Prescott, Sedona, Jerrome, or any of the little towns out in the middle of nowhere-desert.
If you feel comfortable, you could book a room for a night and really explore the place you’ve chosen.
*Please be safe as you travel. I want all of you around for the holidays next year!*
3. Doing Something Special with Your Pet
The magic of the holidays isn’t just good for you. Your pets can feel it too. Dogs in particular are very sensitive to the feelings their owners harbor. If it’s been a tough go around for you, it’s been tough for your pet too.
Several studies have concluded that spending time with your pet improves your mood almost immediately. They love it too considering you are actually their entire life. They only know what you show them.
Instead of putting up your Christmas tree early this year in attempt to bring some holiday cheer, find some time to do something special with your pet. I’m not talking “walkies.” Something REALLY special. Maybe hikies, (sorry, I mean hikes. I’ve been talking to my dogs too much lately.) If you want to take it to the next level, bake some treats for your pet, with your pet! Sure they are terrible helpers but boy do my dogs love to feel including in the cooking process, mostly for licking the spoon.
You can bring them to a dog friendly patio, set up a play date with one of their friends. If you don’t have a dog, get them a special toy or something new for their aquarium/build ecosystem. Back when I had turtles I’d take them out and let them cruise around outside for fun. No matter your pet, you can do something special for them and doing something for them is absolutely going to bring you joy.
4. Christmas Movies & Cookies
So you’re not ready to decorate for Christmas yet, but maybe Christmas is something that makes you happy and puts you in good spirits. There are still ways to celebrate the season early without dragging out the decoration boxes from your basement.
The easiest one is probably streaming some Christmas movies. Lots were even filmed before the pandemic so it looks like there are plenty of new ones to pick from too. Even though you know the small town girl will end up with the hunky farmer whose wife died years ago, for some reason, we eat these movies up. No shame in starting them up this November.
Hate those movies? They aren’t for everyone. But want to know what is for everyone? Cookies. Make some holiday cookies! The best part about this is that they have cookie cutters in just about every shape, including those for Thanksgiving.
Make the whole house smell delicious and give your family something fun to do by decorating them together. I’m not always a fan of eating icing so you can use these to quickly become everyone’s favorite co-worker by bringing them into the office to share!
5. Dessert First
Now that I’ve got cookies on the brain… this one does the trick in my house no matter how tough the week has been. Dessert first!
Not a hard concept. Maybe it’s the holiday cookies, maybe it’s your favorite Thanksgiving pie. Celebrate the season in the sweetest way possible. Your green vegetables aren’t going anywhere.
6. Live Music
Live music? WHERE?
A concertless year has been one of the biggest issues with our ALT AZ listeners. But great news, one way or another, live music is *back*. So many artists have been working tirelessly to figure out how to give everyone a great show in a safe way. The two most popular choices are live stream shows and drive-ins. We happen to have access to both here in Phoenix!
Live streams are happening all the time. No, it’s not the same as going to a show and having the energy of the audience around you but it’s worth it for an artist you’ve been craving. You can make it a whole experience from your own living room. Turn off all the lights or hang some decorative ones. Cast it up on the TV. Have some drinks and popcorn at the ready and maybe a couple of friends over to enjoy the show. Bam, enjoy an evening with the concert vibes you’ve been missing with NO lines at the bathrooms or drink stands.
Option two and my favorite, the drive-in! I can’t vouch for these enough. It’s an incredible experience and I might even prefer it to the tradition concert because no one is stepping on my toes or spilling beer in my hair. Our local shows are being held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. This Friday, November 13th Concerts in Your Car is featuring 311 and on Saturday, the 14th it’s Sublime with Rome. Your ticket is for your car which can include up to 6 people inside. I have more information on my drive-in experience located HERE.
7. Photo Albums and Home Movies
This is something that is often associated with the holidays and is always sure to bring up some fun memories. Instead of digging out your Christmas decorations, dig out the old albums and VHS player for your home movies.
Not only is the trip down memory lane a great conversation starter but it’s also a reminder to be printing out photos yourself and getting the albums more current. We take a lot of pictures these days but often fail to print them out, leaving them to be potentially lost with a data crash or new phone. After you pass, don’t you want some of those memories to handed down to future generations?
Get scrapbooking! Or at least make sure you have an album for your growing family.
Home movies are a bit of a lost art as well. Each time I watch my families old films of our beach vacations or whipping up a homemade pizza with dad, it reminds me that we don’t get out the cam-corder anymore. It’s all a quick video for a snapchat story or whatever app is the fad and then it normally ends up lost or later deleted when your phone needs some more memory space. I’d like us all to work at not only recording more memories, but remember to export them properly too (and not just in 50 separate 10 second videos. Have them all on one video segment like the good old days!)
8. Mystery Night
If you haven’t done one of these yet, you are SO missing out. There’s a couple of different versions of this depending on your style. This one is more geared towards a date night but I’m willing to bet there are ways to make this friendly for the whole family.
There are little subscription boxes you can sign up for that will take all the planning work out of the evening for you. I’ve done these for a couple of friends and they have LOVED it. Look up DateBox for a mystery date night sent straight to your door. These are fun whether you have a significant other or not. You could honestly do this with a roomie.
Here is one great for a date night OR for the family. It’s the murder mystery box! Pick a theme for a one time delivery or sign up for the subscription and get surprised every few months with a new mystery to solve.
If your family likes to get crafty check out the Salty Owl Studio box or Craft and Boogie!
Honestly, there is a box for just about everything these days and while a lot of subscription boxes are hot garbage, most of the activity based ones have been pretty awesome.
You don’t have to put up your Christmas tree early to get the holiday vibes pumping through your veins. Embrace the spirit a little early this year in a way that suits your household. Or hell, put up the tree and knock some of these out. Get all the cheer you can scrounge up.
Good luck over these last few months of 2020.