Just because the holiday season might look and feel different this year doesn’t mean that it’s also destined for disappointment. Here are several tips to cope with the tough changes that come with this holiday season to ensure that yours remains as memorable and joyous as ever.
Celebrate the Familiar
The sudden lifestyle adjustments that came with the pandemic have brought on undue stress, uncertainty, and the uncomfortable feeling of extreme loss of control. Let’s face it: change is difficult. Managing these emotions can be even more difficult to comprehend or adjust to when you didn’t expect these changes.
Even though drastic changes have been made, there are still aspects of our lives that are consistent or familiar. Holiday rituals may come in the form of baking cookies with your children or watching A Christmas Story while drinking some eggnog with your partner. Big or small, celebrating these little moments of tradition will remind you that not all is lost this season.
Decide What This Holiday Season Will Represent
The best way to avoid feeling lost and distressed is to take a step back and create an intention for your festivities and celebrations. This helps provide a shared purpose or goal with your family and friends that will bring all of you closer together while apart. Use this time to f reflect and acknowledge the ways you all are lucky this year.
The socially-distanced holiday season can come with new traditions. Try dedicating a few hours to self-care or to give back to the community.
Get Creative With Your Facetime (or Zoom) Calls With Family and Friends
FaceTime isn’t just about getting some face time with your loved ones. A little bit of creativity can go a long way.
For Zoom, you can create laughs with more than just video backgrounds. With Snapchat Filters downloaded to your desktop, you can pop up on video chat calls as Santa Claus, an elf, or a cat.
You can also continue old traditions over video chat. You can sing with friends or make pumpkin pie with grandma and watch her give you her secret tips over FaceTime. With classmates or coworkers, you can set up Secret Santa and watch one another open gifts and guess who they are from. Try virtually opening gifts with your family.
No game is impossible over video calls if you think hard enough. Charades, I Spy, and 20 Questions can easily be made virtual. For the children, a virtual talent show could generate lots of excitement and fun.
Try Something New to Make This Year Special (or Create New Traditions)
Changes don’t have to be devastating. They can also create opportunities for new traditions.
Using an old mason jar, set up a “thankful” or “memories” jar. Whenever a relative (or roommates) is having trouble coping with the COVID holiday blues, ask them to write something they are grateful for or a fond memory they had this year and place it in the jar. To cap off the holiday festivities, your household can gather around and read the submissions together. Extra bonus points if those submitting into the jar take the time to explain their submissions and their significance.
Help Another Family or Those In Need
You can make good deeds a part of your new traditions. You can get even more creative with family game night with a fundraiser. For games like Quiplash, the winner could set up (an affordable) minimum donation amount for all contestants to give to a charity. For other games, set up “buy-ins” or create special privileges—like a redo or an extra dice roll—for those who donate to charity. Some great options include Hungry Kids in Crisis, International Rescue Committee, Black Girls Code, Penny Appeal USA, Girls Write Now, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. For charities closer to home, look to mutual aid networks, Meals on Wheels, or look up other local organizations accepting donations here.
If you are financially able, you can also set up a time for the family to cook batches of hot meals together for the community fridge. If there isn’t a community fridge nearby, you could donate food to a local food bank.
There are other options to support and invest in your community if cooking food or donating is out of your budget. The easiest way is to volunteer. Try a local food bank or deliver meals to senior citizens with Meals on Wheels. You could also help out local neighbors—particularly those who are elderly or ill—by shoveling their driveways, getting their groceries, or running their errands. If you love animals, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter or hospital.
If you don’t have a lot of time or resources available, consider donating blood at local blood drives. For those unsure of what to get, try suggesting gift cards from local businesses that were most likely affected by COVID-related restrictions and shutdowns. Look for restaurants, hair salons, and fitness studios in your neighborhood.
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How to make a gratitude jar: