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Mendo Lake Family Life

7 Sweet Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at Home

By Katy M. Clark

This year the holiday season may look different. Masks and social distancing have put a damper on the usual gatherings at schools and in our communities. My own kids are sad that their holiday concerts and celebrations have been canceled.

But there’s no need to be filled with despair. After all, it is still the most wonderful time of the year! Why not take this opportunity to rediscover the joy of slowing down and savoring the season right where you spend most of your time? Here are seven sweet and simple ways to celebrate the holidays at home.

1. Send cards in the mail. Now is a great time to rediscover the tradition of sending Christmas cards. There are tons of online photo sites that allow you to personalize photo cards. Or simply ask your kids to draw or paint handmade greetings. No matter how fancy the cards may be, just imagine how much joy they will bring the recipients, especially grandmas and grandpas who love getting good old-fashioned mail.

2. Bake. Spend time together cutting out sugar cookies, rolling rugelach, or making a special recipe that your family treasures. Tell your kids about the relatives who wrote the recipes in cursive on those cards passed down from generation to generation. Maybe you can drop off your homemade treats to essential workers, homebound seniors, or veterans.

3. Make music. The usual school holiday concert may look different this year, if it can be held at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host one in your own home. Have your child play a solo in front of the family. Or be like the Partridge Family and encourage everyone to pick up an instrument for a holiday jam session. Sing your favorite hymns or holiday classics. Most lyrics can be found online.

4. Read together. Be like Clark Griswold and his clan in the classic film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and gather round to read The Night Before Christmas. Or pick up some picture books such as The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler (Holiday House, 2012) or Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis (Albert Whitman, 2000). There are also classic audio books your family could listen to as you wrap gifts or unwind after work or school. Books are the perfect way to learn about different holiday traditions, too. Look for books about Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or celebrations such as Lucia Day or Three Kings Day.

5. Watch holiday movies. Going to the movies may not be feasible this year, but that only inspires me to create a cozy movie night in my own living room. My family likes to don holiday pajamas, snuggle up in throw blankets with snacks and hot cocoa, and laugh away at Elf (2003) and A Christmas Story (1983). Other great flicks include Eight Crazy Nights (2002) and Full-Court Miracle (2003). There are so many great shows and movies celebrating the season that your family is sure to find one that inspires a festive spirit in everyone.

6. Celebrate outside. No matter the temperature, it’s always an excellent idea to head outside. Go for a walk and listen to the wind whistling through bare trees or whipping around buildings. Notice the birds that winter in your area. Decorate a tree outside, whether in your backyard or on your balcony. Maybe the best outdoor activity of all is piling into the car to see the holiday lights and outdoor decorations in your neighborhood.

7. Go virtual. Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Zoom, or Skype, there are myriad ways to extend season’s greetings to friends and families. So plan that video chat with Aunt Susie or hang out online with your best friend. Reaching out and connecting, even in a virtual format, benefits everyone, especially during the holidays. 

Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two whose work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Today’s Parent, and Your Teen for Parents. She embraces her imperfections on her blog,