15 COVID-19 Safe Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in 2020

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There’s no place like home for the holidays, and this is especially true in 2020. While staying home may feel like a damper on your Christmas spirit, it’s more important than ever before to stay safe during the next few weeks. Spending time with friends and family, even virtually, can bring joy into an otherwise tough time. While things will definitely be different this year, there’s no reason to stop all the holiday traditions we love and cherish.
Here are 15 COVID-19 Safe Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season
1. Host a Holiday-Themed PowerPoint Party
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One good thing to come out of 2020 is PowerPoint nights. Get a group of friends (on Zoom) and present your own slideshow about a niche holiday-themed topic of your choice. Need some ideas? Rank the best and worst holiday treats, debate whether Die Hard is truly a Christmas movie or defend your favorite version of Last Christmas. The more controversial or specific the topic, the better.
2. DIY Family Photoshoot
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Do you usually get your family photos done professionally around the holidays? This year doesn’t need to change the tradition. Set up your own family photoshoot by propping your phone up with a table and a stack of books. You’ll even get a workout in by running into place after hitting the self-timer for each shot.
3. Drive Around to See Lights
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If you want to get out of the house this holiday season, this activity is both festive and safe. Take a nighttime drive through your town to see houses decked out in lights. “It became a tradition for my friends and I when we got back from school…We talk about our semesters and listen to Christmas music for a few hours while driving around. It’s really less about the lights than it is spending time with them,” University of Minnesota junior Annie Costello said. If you’ve exhausted all the neighborhoods in your area, you may be able to find a drive-thru light show nearby.
4. Watch an Online Performance
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Even if your favorite holiday performances like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol are canceled in-person, you can still enjoy the shows at home. Recorded versions of most shows can be found online for free. However, many local theatres plan on selling tickets for live-streamed performances this year and supporting the arts has never been more important than now.
5. Send Cards to Nursing Homes
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Nursing home residents have had a particularly tough year. Show them love by writing and sending cards to celebrate the season. If you can’t find anyone organizing this in your community, call some of your local nursing homes to see what donation options they have available.
6. Try Out All the Holiday Coffee Drinks
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One thing marks the true beginning of the holiday season: festive coffee drinks. Get into the holiday spirit by testing a new holiday drink each day—you may even find a new favorite. Or, try the same holiday drink at different coffee shops in your area. Local shops definitely appreciate your business this year, and it’s likely they serve a mean peppermint mocha.
7. Host a Holiday Movie Binge
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Nothing’s more festive than Christmas movies on repeat. Find a day to get your friends together online to watch all your favorite holiday movies. You can watch through screen-sharing on Zoom or watch simultaneously through Teleparty. Throw on your comfiest Christmas pajamas and settle in for a night of feel-good films.
8. Sing Christmas Karaoke
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We all have our favorite holiday songs to belt – and it’s even easier when you’re home alone. Blast your favorite songs and have a solo concert or Zoom with a group of friends to perform for a crowd. If traditional karaoke isn’t for you, throw on your favorite holiday sing-along movie for a cozy night in.
9. Swap Recipes with Friends
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If you’re running out of at-home dinner ideas, ask a friend for their suggestions. Swap recipes and cook each other’s meals on the same night, then Zoom and dine together. You’ll get to spend some quality time together and add a new recipe to your lineup.
10. Decorate Cookies
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Luckily, the tastiest holiday activity is traditionally done at home. Bake your favorite sugar or gingerbread cookies and decorate away—even if it gets messy. “Every year there’s flour and icing everywhere. I swear we spend more time cleaning up than actually decorating,” University of Illinois freshman Jacob Wilson said. If you want to spread the holiday cheer, drop off cookies for your neighbors and friends.
11. Participate in Virtual Secret Santa
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COVID doesn’t need to prevent you from getting gifts for friends. Send your gifts through the mail or secretly drop them off at each other’s doorsteps. Then, get together through Zoom and open your gifts as a group. You’ll still get to see their reaction to your gift and watch them guess who their Santa is.
12. Mix Some Holiday Cocktails
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If you had to celebrate your 21st in quarantine, you deserve an extra drink this holiday season. At what other time of the year can you make a candy cane cocktail? If that’s not up your alley, try a mulled wine or cider, spiked eggnog or peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate.
13. Craft an Ugly Holiday Sweater
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With all the Zoom parties to attend this year, you’ll want an adorably ugly sweater to show off. Make your own with a sweater decorating kit or use the materials you have at home. Just remember: the more obnoxious, the better.
14. Make Your Own Candles
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The holiday season hasn’t truly started until the first festive candle is lit. This year, make your own to fill your home with scents of pine, cranberry and gingerbread. “The big candle sales seemed pretty crowded and unsafe this year…and by making my own I get to pick the scents I like the most,” Iowa State University sophomore Lauren Klein said. Even better, a DIY candle makes for the perfect gift for a loved one.
15. Volunteer or Donate
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This year, it’s especially important to give back during the holiday season. Help out your community by donating to organizations in need or volunteering your time. Volunteer to grocery shop for vulnerable populations, donate clothes to a local shelter or donate money to an organization of your choice.

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