Holiday Traditions and Celebrating in 2020


I love traditions. It’s what I look forward to most when the holidays roll around. Some despise the hustle and bustle of the season, but it brings me such joy. I grew up in a family where holiday traditions were full of meaning and importance, and I cherish each one.

Holiday songs for the car rides filled with anticipation. Making my way down the assembly line in my aunt’s and sister-in-law’s kitchens to load up my plate with all the delicious dishes. Gingerbread festival and watching the lighting of the tree. Visiting our local Christmas tree farm. Individually chosen ornaments. Jesus’ birthday cake. Writing private notes to ourselves about what we’ll do better next year and putting them in a special box. Grandma’s Christmas games and stories. White elephant, Christmas pie, and gift card exchange madness and passing out presents. Christmas Eve prime rib and watching It’s A Wonderful Life. Wrapping carefully selected gifts while quoting every Clark Griswold line. Christmas morning stockings and breakfast casseroles. Necessary elastic pants and ensuing early bedtime. New Year’s Eve crab legs. Full of love and sentiment.

The memory-making with my family, and now my children, makes this my favorite and most wonderful time of year. But this year, I know that many of my beloved traditions and ways of celebrating will not take place. This virus has taken so much from so many, and it won’t relent just because Bing Crosby starts tap dancing. 

As upsetting as it is that this year will look different than years past, I began to think about ways to make the best of the holiday season amid this pandemic. I will not let it take away my holiday spirit! I want to keep myself, my family, and others safe while still creating memories to look back and smile on during a time when it’s so easy to frown.

Here are some ideas of new or altered holiday traditions and celebrations you could participate in with your family this year:

  • Since sharing a meal with a large group of loved ones may not be possible, share family recipes that you could all make together but apart.
  • Participate in Zoom family meals.
  • Pick up a holiday takeout meal crafted by a local restaurant.
  • Send holiday cards or video messages to loved ones near and far. 
  • Instead of a white elephant or in-person gift exchange, choose a family member or friend’s name from a virtual hat and send a special gift to that person in the mail.
  • Create a themed tree that you could change each year – My family will choose an extra tree at our local farm this year to announce the gender of our upcoming baby with colored lights… I think I’ll have to have an extra tree every year to decorate in a themed way as well!
  • Coordinate porch pickup meal baskets or dishes with family and friends.
  • Enjoying an entire meal outdoors may not be possible due to weather, but maybe an outdoor area with heaters and one part of a meal (appetizers or desserts) would work best to minimize exposure.
  • If you have a bubble family you’ve “created” due to your child’s schooling or work environment, celebrate with those individuals!
  • With many stores altering schedules and guidelines, you could practice minimalist gift-giving this year. You could also shop online or shop small to support local businesses.
  • Create homemade gifts or send pandemic-friendly ones like subscription boxes, keepsake items, or care packages. 
  • Watch the virtual holiday parades with your family.
  • Take your family to an outdoor ice skating rink.
  • Visit local attractions that make social distancing or outdoor activities safe and family-friendly, like Christmas at the Zoo or Sullivan’s Express.
  • Amp up the decorating at home, doing holiday crafts, and decking out each room.
  • Complete a kindness, gratitude, or Advent-type calendar.
  • Take a drive to view decor or light displays.
  • Have a holiday movie marathon.

What holiday traditions will you be starting or enjoying in 2020?