Decor & Design Your Life

5 Ways to Make (Socially Distant) Memories That Last: Christmas Edition

city holiday lights

After the year we've had, it's hard to believe the end is right around the corner. But before we roll into 2021, there's still the holiday season to contend with – and all the plans, traditions, and festivities that will (likely) need to be reworked for 2020. While we may not be able to gather together with our family and friends in joyful celebration, we can still enjoy the best the holiday season has to offer by being flexible, getting creative, and, above all, staying positive. Keep reading for our five top ideas on how to have a socially distant Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa that still embodies all the fun and spirit of holidays past.

lit holiday tree with young family
  1. Step up your holiday card game.

    2020 is the year of the holiday card. Not only are people more thoughtful about supporting the United States Postal Service with increased mailings, but this is also the year we actually might have the time and motivation to reach out to those we probably won't be able to see in person for a bit more.

    It can be a little overwhelming to sort through all of the options for holiday cards, so to keep things simple. Choose if you want to take the "do it yourself" approach, customize and buy photo cards online (some services will even mail them for you!), or just go with a traditional box of cards and set of stamps. While you're at it, you can even add some extra cards to your list to send to our servicemen and servicewomen on deployment or hospitalized children.

    Whatever route you choose, hurry up! You should budget about two weeks for delivery, so get crackin' (or do like I do sometimes when I run out of time and just send a "Happy New Year" card). Don't forget to decorate the envelopes too.

  2. Trip the light fantastic.

    Everywhere you turn this year, there are holiday lights ablaze. Neighborhoods and apartment buildings around the country are pulling out all the stops to charm our days and light our nights with holiday decorations. Many of our CubeSmart customers have already stopped by to pull their Christmas décor out of their contact-free self-storage units, while others have told us they're investing in even more for 2020. Bring it on!

    Some of the top Christmas decorating ideas this year include recycling materials (such as scraps of festive cloth for gift wrapping like the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki) and incorporating natural elements into interior and exterior displays. My family loves to roll pine cones in peanut butter, cover them in birdseed, and then tie them in tree branches with holiday-colored ribbons. We also string the trees with popcorn and cranberry garlands to feed any squirrels, rabbits, or birds that visit.

    Another way to enjoy socially distant Christmas decorations and lights is to pile your household into the car and take a spin around your town. There are a number of ‘drive-through' holiday light displays around the country this year, so search online for one close by to surprise and delight the family. Don't forget to pack an insulated jug of cocoa (and marshmallows) to enjoy during the trip – and start a new family tradition while you're at it.

  3. Bake, bake and bake some more.

    If there's one thing that 2020 has taught us, it's that people like to bake when they're under stress. The holiday season is definitely not the time to let up! Bust out the vanilla extract and preheat that oven for sweets, treats, and anything and everything in between.

    Given how tough and isolating the holidays may be for many in our communities (and personal networks) this year, consider making extra cookies and cakes to deliver. You can wrap them in festive paper and bags, add a card, and leave them on the doorsteps of friends and neighbors as a socially distant surprise. I also like to put little gift bags with cookies, hand warmers, and a bottle of water in my car to hand out to anyone who looks like they could use a smile. You might be surprised at how meaningful the gift of a home-baked treat can be.

    If you'd like to use your kitchen skills to make an even greater impact for those less fortunate, call around to local churches, food pantries, and soup kitchens to find out how to best contribute. Many are struggling to gather, prepare, and distribute food this year and could use all the help they can get. They might even ask you to stick around and bake or cook on-site.

    For loved ones too far away to enjoy your creations in person, consider hosting a virtual cookie recipe swap or even an exchange via mail. See the previous note about how long shipping takes during the holiday season and plan accordingly. There is also advice online about the best cookies to mail so definitely do some research before you start softening the butter.

  4. Start new traditions.

    A big part of having a great, albeit socially distant, Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa is starting new traditions. While it's definitely a bummer to not be able to safely participate in all the festive activities we normally enjoy, it's also a time to get creative and flexible with our traditions – or start new ones completely.

    One of the best ideas I've seen is to start a new tradition around the spirit of giving. Many in our communities are struggling and nonprofit agencies are overwhelmed with the amount of need (and lack of volunteers). Gather your household together to donate blood (which is in critically short supply nationwide), volunteer to take shelter dogs on walks, or build and stock a little free library in your front yard.

    The gestures can be as big or as small as you feel comfortable with; there are no rules when it comes to giving back. If money is in short supply, give your time. If time is in short supply, go through your household or CubeSmart storage unit, and see if there's anything that might be of use to someone else. Animal shelters are always in need of old towels and sheets, for instance, while people experiencing homelessness need unopened toiletries and warm clothes in good condition. Even furniture or household supplies can be donated to help refugees or those transitioning from homelessness or foster care make their new living environments shine.

    Whatever you decide to do, make a commitment to yourself to keep it up for years to come. Chances are it will warm your heart and bring you together with your loved ones in unanticipated ways. You might even make some new friends in the process.

  5. Put on a virtual holiday performance.

    Did you think we were going to get through this whole post without mentioning Zoom?! Everybody's favorite video conferencing solution lifted its 40-minute time free meeting time limit for those who celebrated a socially distant Thanksgiving and will likely do so again for Christmas 2020. What's that mean? Why it means now's the time to start developing and choreographing a special holiday performance sure to delight and amuse even your Scroogiest relatives.

    If you and/or your family members are already talented at singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, put your skills on display with a holiday-themed performance. You can design and distribute programs via email or leave it as a total surprise – the choice is yours!

    If you're like me and maybe not so talented at singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, the heat is on to come up with something that is enjoyable to watch – while not involving a lot of natural artistic skill. TikTok dances are a great and highly amusing idea to try that might even get the kids invested (or at least laughing at how lame their parents are). Other performance ideas might involve a demonstration of some sort (think magic or scientific wonder) or even a stand-up comedy routine.

    The point is to create something that you enjoy doing and that will bring your family – and your audience – together to enjoy. Trust us, that spirit will shine through no matter how amateurish you consider your talents. The real joy is creating an event that encourages us to connect with each other in ways both meaningful and lasting, even if it has to be just through a computer screen for now.

There's no question that this holiday season is going to be different than any other before. While being physically separated from our families, friends and communities is always going to be hard to deal with, there are plenty of ways we can still make a positive impact on those near and far – and even create a new tradition or two while we're at it.

We wish you the very best and brightest holiday season and hope to see your smiling faces soon. And be sure to let us know how you're celebrating this holiday season in the comments below or on our social media pages.

About the author

Bree Neely

Bree Neely is a communications expert and former Brooklynite based out of Denver, Colorado. She is co-founder of Direct Object, a marketing firm serving national B2B and B2C clients. When not tapping away at her keyboard, she keeps busy traveling, skiing and overseeing a variety of children and animals.

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