We all know this Christmas is going to be wildly different than any other year, but it doesn’t mean the season can’t still be warm and bright. Here are 12 COVID-safe holiday activities to get you feeling a little less like Charlie Brown, and a little more like Buddy the Elf after a hearty dose of syrup spaghetti:

  1. Zoom gatherings with your family: can’t travel across the country (/city/province/ocean) to spend Christmas with your family? Try setting up some virtual activities over video call: bake the same treats together, do a virtual tour of your decorations, watch a holiday movie at the same time, read a holiday story to your nibling. You could even set up a virtual Christmas morning! For my family, Christmas mornings growing up always meant cinnamon buns, bacon, grapefruit, coffee and mimosas (once we got older :P), after we opened presents. So this year we’ll pick a day to open presents “together” and have our traditional breakfast over zoom!
  2. Bake: Always an excellent activity for cold, dark days! Cook up your favourite holiday desserts and – if you set up safe baking rules beforehand – plan a contactless cookie exchange with friends! Or, ya know, just eat them all yourself. We’ll definitely be baking snowman and candy cane cookies! What are your favourite holiday treats?
  3. Listen to Christmas music. If you celebrate and you’re anything like me (Christmas-obsessed), in a normal year you’d be blaring tacky tannenbaum tunes from Nov. 1st on. This year I’ve been feeling a little Grinchy, but somehow hearing music still gets me into the holigay mood. Especially Tegan and Sara’s new holigay song! Hate Christmas music? Spend time putting together the perfect non-denominational winter playlist.
  4. Put on some cheesy holiday clothes: pull out your ugliest holiday sweater and have a photoshoot! Get your friends to share theirs and put together an ugly collage. Ta-da, your holiday card is ready to go!
  5. Christmas Cocktails: spike your hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, mull your wine, add some brandy to your apple cider, or get a little fancier with some holiday cocktails! Alternatively, go the easy route and grab some seasonal beers from your local brewery.
  6. Safe activities around town: what’s on in your city? In Victoria, the Gingerbread Showcase is still happening, just a little differently. Butchart Gardens is a good place to spread out. If you have a car, you could head out to Merridale Christmas at the Farm. Or shop locally at a virtual craft market!
  7. Craft! One of our favourite holiday crafts is decorating ornaments. We usually pick up some clear plastic or glass balls from Michaels, fill them with fake snow or glitter, and paint them. There are usually lots of rainbows involved. This year, we might try making cards, and we even got a wood-burning kit to draw on tree stump rounds from last year’s tree. Last year, our homemade crackers were a hit at Christmas dinner! We used toilet paper rolls, recycled newspaper wrapping, hilarious holiday jokes, chocolate and a scratch lottery ticket. You can get the snaps at a craft store.
  8. Make your house feel warm and bright in anticipation of winter soltice: turn up the heat and the hygge! Light some candles, grab a warm drink, and listen to an audiobook, quiet music, or do a puzzle.
  9. Beach vacay! … At home. This is not at all environmentally or financially responsible, but… desperate times. Did you have plans to fly south this winter? How about instead: turn up the heat for an afternoon, pretend your SAD light is the sun, lay out a towel on the floor, grab an inflatable unicorn and make yourself a tropical drink!
  10. Christmas Light Tour: Parades and community light up events may be cancelled, but there’s no reason (barring your local public health authorities saying so) that you can’t walk around different neighbourhoods, warm drink in hand, checking out the lights! You can add your home or business to the annual Victoria Buzz Christmas lights tour map here.
  11. Sneaky contactless Secret Santa: if you’re working from home this will give you a great reason to get out of the house – you can leave a sneaky gift outside a friend’s door! Try home-made (hello, craft night goal!) or locally-made gifts only. Do virtual (subscriptions, ebooks, gift cards, donations) or snail mail gifts with a friend group that’s spread out.
  12. Pass the cheer on to someone else: have fun picking out a toy or gift for someone whose family can’t afford extra expenses for the holidays this year. In Victoria, CFAX Santa’s Anonymous runs a hamper program. Or spend some time researching organizations to donate to that match your values. For example, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre provides services to Aboriginal people living in the Greater Victoria area. Rainbow Railroad helps LGBTQI refugees get to their destination countries. Black Lives Matter Vancouver works “against police brutality and anti-blackness” and uplifts black voices.