Christmas will definitely be different this year. During the pandemic, visiting with family and friends may be more challenging than ever, and travel options may be limited and/or complicated. But that doesn't mean the holiday is canceled.
"With the ongoing pandemic and social distancing, holidays can be challenging," says psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Chris Norris. "As a mental health expert, it's important to try and maintain a sense of normalcy by adapting traditions to meet the 'new normal.' This helps us to focus on the positive, and relieve the stress and anxiety brought on by the current situation."
This year, consider a Christmas staycation.
"Christmas staycations are addictive," says Clarissa Sidhom, who runs the blog, Modern Hipster Mama. "Since we live across the country from our extended family, last year, we spent Christmas by ourselves in our little home. And we're going to do that every year from now on."
Sidhom says it's all about perspective. Instead of viewing being at home during the holidays as a letdown, think of it as an "opportunity to rest and soak in the holiday spirit" without hassles of traveling, political fights among family members and other drama.
"Instead of spending your entire break traveling around, you're spending it in your pajamas, binging Netflix and eating all of the pumpkin pie yourself," she says.
Many years, Sonya Schwartz and her family enjoy a Christmas getaway but COVID-19 has caused them to change plans.
"Given the fact that social gathering is highly discouraged, we decided that we'll celebrate holidays by just staying at home and bond over cooking foods for our celebration," says the founder of the website, HerNorm.com. "We'll just set-up a video conference for our extended family as an alternative to the physical gathering. In this way, we can make holidays extra special amidst pandemic."
Dr. Norris, who's also managing editor at SleepStandards.com, agrees that it's a good idea to have an online Christmas dinner with loved ones. Keep the menu consistent so there's a sense of "festive unity."
He also recommends planning a gift exchange where participants agree to a price limit, where to order and delivery times. Then use an app to draw names for the exchange and open the gifts on a scheduled video call.
Read on for some ideas on how to maximize a Christmas staycation:
Embrace your at-home holiday by decking your halls. String lights, put up a tree and get festive, even if you won't have the usual houseguests to enjoy the decorations.
"We bought our kids matching Christmas pajamas, and because our staycation created extra free time, we captured adorable memories of them decorating the tree," says Sidhom.
*Family Game Night
From cards to trivia to board games and more, make playing games a holiday tradition.
Get the whole group to put together an epic puzzle or do a holiday scavenger hunt. Then play Christmas bingo, Pictionary, Scattergories and classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble.
Make the game more engaging by allowing the winner to open Christmas presents before other players.
*Make a Toast
Say cheers to the holiday with an at-home wine tasting. Check out free on-demand virtual wine tastings on Wine.com.
Create your own pairings or sign up for a club. For example, Gold Medal Wine Club, one of the first wine clubs in the country, offers six different wine clubs, as well as wine gift sets featuring wines with artisan foods.
*Get Crafty or Competitive
Grab your glue and scissors! Your Christmas staycation is a great time to make crafts. From DIY ornaments to compiling scrapbooks, the whole family can make art and memories.
Whip up savory snacks and holiday treats during this time at home. Keep things competitive by having a contest for the best-decorated cookies or the best gingerbread house.
Plan a movie night of your favorite holiday films. For added interest, let each family member choose a flick. Think "The Grinch" for kids; dream of a "White Christmas" for classic movie fun and get your Uncle Eddie fix with "Christmas Vacation."
No matter how you celebrate your holiday at home, savor the special time with family and friends.