“The holidays are cancelled this year.” That seems to be the popular phrase floating around.
Well I refuse to accept that. The spirit of the holidays isn’t supposed to be mass gatherings of unsanitary practices. When did that become the whole idea of the season? Your holiday might look different this but don’t give up and call it cancelled. There are actually lots of fun things you can still do while being safe!
Honestly I feel like I always get sick around the holidays so if I can make it out of 2020 without catching even the sniffles, I might enact these ideas to become traditions in my household. Thinking back, it’s a little gross how willing we were to spread germs during the winter anyway. Nothing ruins Thanksgiving and Christmas quite like not being able to taste the food because you’re congested with a swollen throat.
This year I was able to still fill up my social calendar without RSVPing yes to any large holiday parties. Here are some of the things you and your family can consider doing to celebrate the holidays during a pandemic.
Safety disclaimer: Some of these ideas are only appropriate if you plan to actually follow guidelines provided to us by both the CDC and the event company. Please be respectful of these rules. They will NOT ruin your fun and keep it so others can also come out and enjoy the fun. The holidays are all about being generous, so don’t be selfish!
1. Cruise the Zoolights at Phoenix Zoo
Not enough people do Christmas lights in Arizona! My neighborhood seems to not get very festive for Christmas and it kills me. This year, the Phoenix Zoo is transforming the Zoolights event into a drive-thru experience! Yes, the ticket price might seem like a lot at $75 but remember if you’re bringing your quarantine buddies with you then you get to split that ticket price down.
Also let’s not pretend you’ve not ever dropped more than that at a night out at the bars. You’re not (or shouldn’t be) bar hopping anymore so it’s a trade off! If there was ever a year to splurge on something fun, it’s now.
The website is pretty clear on the price for everything from hot cocoa to light up necklaces so you can plan exactly how much you’ll spend. It’s happening now through January 31st and some nights are already sold out. This is something you should buy in advance.
Click HERE to check our pricing and more.
2. Holiday Drive-In Movies
Feeling cooped up in your home after months of being in a pandemic? Drive-ins are a great way to leave the house for a couple of hours without joining a holiday hoard of people wiping their boogies everywhere. You can completely transform your night into a magical Christmas evening by catching a holiday show at your local drive-in.
I know that the West Wind Digital Drive-In in Glendale is starting to show some holiday films as we close out November. I have a feeling more will be announcing a short re-opening to show some holiday movies as we get closer to December.
Grab some hot chocolate, your softest blanket, pillows, a bucket of buttery popcorn and Christmas scented car fragrance to really set the mood and enjoy your evening off the couch with bae or your family!
Not up for driving to Glendale? Here is an idea. Set-up an big screen movie experience in your own home! Get a projector (you can find them for decently cheap) and clear some wall space outside or in a room in your house.
Your stay-in date night can go next level here. Light some candles. Bake some cookies. Buy some stuffing to use as fake snow. Drag a mattress or build a pallet of pillows in the room you have the projector set up in and cue up your favorite seasonal film. (In my house we consider “Just Friends” a Christmas movie and watch it around this time of year.)
It’s crazy how a holiday movie can really lift your spirits even now! If you’re having trouble getting in touch with the season this year, give this a try! Keep the lights low and let your mind completely wander from where you are for the best results!
3. Escape Room or Murder Mystery in a Box
I am excited to report that this was a success! I sent some of these boxes as November birthday gifts this year as a trial to see if they were cool or not. My friends were so excited to receive these! So now I’ll be buying a couple to keep on deck in my house.
Instead of going out and doing an escape room where you will literally be trapped in a room breathing the same air a bunch of strangers have been in, enjoy it from your own home! There is a company (Escape the Crate) that will send you what you need to create your own escape room experience. This is perfect for families who have kids that are going to be feeling really bored at home over their holiday break.
Do you love serial killer documentaries? Then do I have the thing for you! Murder Mystery Box. You can do it as a subscription or as a one-time deal. You will receive a booklet with the plot, tons of background on the story and evidence! As you read along through the book, it will have you (the detective) stop to open a piece of evidence. Can you find out whodunnit?
My friends have been HYPE about this gift. If you think you can solve crimes, get bae and order one of these boxes.
(These companies didn’t pay me to be in the article. They are just really cool.)
4. Mail-In Secret Santa
Secret Santa with a twist!
This year it’s easier than ever to keep secret santa… well, a secret! Since you aren’t constantly around the people you’re exchanging with, it definitely keeps the mystery more alive. See who is interested in doing a secret santa via mail!
You can either mail out the information of who has who or use a website to generate it, like DrawNames.com. If you use DrawNames, you can go into it blind too. Have everyone provide a mailing address and set a price limit.
Remember, secret santa only works when EVERYONE participates so make sure you can trust those involved and get their consent before throwing them into a gift exchange!!
My old work used to do it in a cool way that made it extra fun. We did 4 gifts gifts. One sent one week, one the next etc. leading up to the final exchange where the person can actually reveal who they are. The price was like $10 for the smaller ones and $30 for the big one or the smaller ones could all contribute to an overall theme revealed in the final gift. I always thought this method was cool because it actually makes you wonder who it is instead of just finding out immediately at the gift exchange.
For the final exchange, maybe set up a zoom gift opening session so everyone can say, “hi!”
5. Friendsgiving Picnic Pods
Missing big meals with everyone? I’m here to provide you with a safe alternative to your huge gathering. Do a picnic pod!
Whether it’s for Friendsgiving or just to celebrate the upcoming holidays, this is a great way to see your friends but also keep your distance. So what is a picnic pod? Everyone brings their own little set up whether it’s chairs, blankets, sitting in the back of their car with the trunk open, etc and meets up at a park. You either bring your own take-out from somewhere or if you really want to try and do potluck style, have everyone make single serving packages of whatever their “dish” is so it can be safely distributed. Everyone stays in their own pod set-up but you can enjoy a meal and some time together!
Technology is cool and now if you do something like this, there are games everyone can download to their phones where everyone at the picnic can play from their own device, but together!
The picnic pod is a great safe alternative to shoving 20 people in an apartment and sharing the same serving spoon.
6. At Home Bake-Off
Date night with a competitive edge! (Or fun for the whole family.) Have an at-home bake-off.
Whether cookie decorating or gingerbread house making is your vice, you can make a night of fun out of this one without leaving your home or inviting guests into it. Grab the ingredients, set a timer and let the bake-off begin!
Perhaps get some friends involved by having them do it in their own homes too. Then, send photos to someone to post to social media and have the internet decide who the winner is for a prize, or bragging rights!
7. Traveling Item
This was inspired by my church. At the beginning of the pandemic we started “Gail the Quarantine Quail.” Gail the Quail was just a ceramic quail that was purchased by someone at church. But when she arrives at your doorstep, she comes bearing gifts! Gail has traveled through many houses within our church community. She is of course, disinfected before being passed along to the next doorstep. The goodies are provided by whoever had her last and normally cater to whoever is receiving her next. No order. So it’s always a surprise! I have actually yet to receive gail myself but I look forward to the day I see her. We have a Facebook group where everyone posts photos of Gail’s adventures from home to home.
You can adopt this fun too! It works best if you have a tight knit group of friends but if you don’t care if you see the traveling item again, you can have it as a traveling free-for-all where anyone could be surprised next.
All you need to do to start the fun is get an item and provide a note that stays with it. Your item could be anything. Maybe it’s something that appeals directly to your friend group, maybe it’s just a random lawn gnome that was on sale at TJ Maxx. The note just needs to state the purpose of the drop-off and then the goodies are for them while the main item should travel to the next home with the note!
If it’s with a certain circle of people, it might be best to also provide addresses for everyone!
8. Christmas at the Scottsdale Princess
The event happens every year at the Fairmont Princess and this holiday season is no different.. except of course the guidelines you are asked to follow!
This is one of those events where is only safe if you respect the rules to the fullest extent. Wear your mask, don’t push up onto other groups of people, and utilize the hand sanitizer pumps they provide at the entry and exit to each area.
It’s actually my first year getting to go, so I’ll make a seperate post about how it goes but I hear from everyone that this is incredibly done. Truly a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert.
You can get pictures with santa, grab hot cocoa, explore the lights, sit fireside by the ice skating rink and so much more! I’ve got your link to more about the event, including tickets right HERE.
9. Go “Extra” in Your Home This Year
Do you normally pass up thoroughly decorating your home because you’re never around much during the holidays? Well, this year that has certainly changed! If you’re feeling depressed about the lack of holiday cheer going on in your city due to the pandemic then you need to bring it into your own house.
You’re going to be home more. Just a fact. Might as well feel that warm holiday delight as you sit on the couch watching Netflix for the 5th night in row. Hit up the discount stores to stock up on extra decor this year. Maybe try your hand at some DIY stuff. Michael’s has some cute plain nutcrackers that you can decorate on your own!
Next, stock up on candles and all the Christmas baked goods. The nose is a powerful tool and actually is a huge trigger for memory. So if sugar cookies bring you bake to the good ol’ days, then that is just what the doctor ordered for this year!
Finally, light ‘er up! Don’t limit your lights to the tree. Hang some around your entertainment center, your coffee table, up your staircase. Studies show that your brain reacts immediately to a lit Christmas tree in a positive way. Imagine if you had Christmas lights in every room to make you feel good this year?
2020 has taken a lot from us this year but the holidays is not one of them! There is always a way. Tap into the magic of the season and make something special happen this year despite the tragedies of cancellations.
I wish you all the happiest of holidays no matter what is is you’re celebrating and sincerely hope you give some of these a try or are inspired to try something entirely different! Maybe you’ll even make a new tradition this year.