The winter holidays are shaping up to look different this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw all tradition and happiness out the window. We put our heads together over here and came up with some fun ideas for both the kids and grownups to spark creativity and a little indulgence as well as some whimsical tidbits and trivia to keep the seasonal spirit going strong this winter.

Activities for the Family

  • Craft like you’ve never crafted before - Cold weather makes it the perfect time to get cozy and creative with the kiddos. And kids love them some glitter and googly eyes. (What Scrooge doesn’t love googly eyes on a reindeer?!?) Bust out all the stops and craft supplies, maybe even order a kit or fill a basket with some inexpensive inspirations from the craft store and concoct some fun holiday creations. We’ve had success with finding YouTube tutorials and great ideas on Pinterest for some low stress craft activities. These are some of our favorites:
  • Origami paper stars
  • Star of David tissue paper suncatchers
  • Pipe cleaner and pony bead snowflakes
  • Melted pony bead ornaments
  • Painted ceramic craft ornaments
  • Paper snowflakes with glitter
  • Plastic or glass globe ornaments swirled with paint inside (these come out way fancier looking than your usual kid craft!)
  • Perler or melty bead designs (These make the list reluctantly because I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve dropped on the way to the ironing board - so much pressure! But my kids love them.)
  • Play Rose, Thorn, Unicorn - At family dinners, go around the table and share something good that happened that day, something not so good, and something special. It’s a great way to bond with your kids and gain insights into what matters most to them on a given day. Also a great way to instill a sense of gratitude.
  • Set up a hot cocoa bar - Buy some individual hot chocolate packets or pick up hot cocoa bombs if you can find them in stock anywhere (call if you find them!) and set up a cute little spot with fun toppings - marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, sprinkles and the like. If your kids are old enough to work a K-Cup machine, give them free rein with some hot chocolate pods…and teach them how to brew your morning coffee as well, thank you very much. A warm cup of cocoa with marshmallows and sprinkles would perk up any chilly afternoon.
  • Get all Great British Baking Show: Holidays - Don your best Christmas jumpers (aka sweaters) and challenge another family (good-naturedly, of course) via Zoom or FaceTime, and bake your tarts off together.
  • Pick a random December holiday to celebrate in full force - National Cookie Day (December 4th), National Letter Writing Day (December 7th), or National Bacon Day (December 30th) are just a few quirky celebrations that you could lean all the way into and celebrate for some lighthearted fun.
  • Brew stovetop potpourri - Slice an orange in half and stir it together with 1 cup of cranberries, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Put it on your stove with 4-6 cups of water and simmer for a cozy and inviting aroma to envelope your house. Make gift bags of the ingredients and deliver to your neighbors as well for a nice little winter pick-me-up.

Activities for the Grown-ups

(I’m looking at you, Mistletoe Martini)

Try some new cocktails and mocktails - There are loads of recipes out there that can be made with or without alcohol - Hot Toddies with Spiced Rum, White Christmas Margaritas, Campfire Cocktails, Cranberry Fizz. It’s a great time to play mixologist while we’re staying home more and cozying up on the couch.

  • Go full Clark Griswold with the twinkle lights - I’ve noticed lots of folks have really outdone themselves on the outdoor light decor this year and you know what, if not now, then when? I’m loving loading the kids in the car and driving around different neighborhoods after dark to take it all in. I’m talking yards brimming with inflatables, whole streets coordinated like candy cane lane, displays set to music - way to go, folks!
  • Pick something to indulge in - Be it booze, Netflix, or anything candy cane flavored and dipped in chocolate (anyone else feel me on the Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints?) just take a night after the kids have gone to bed and treat yourself to a little indulgence.
  • A puzzle with a wintery scene - Surprise! This is where I tell you I’m 85 and live alone with 17 cats and puzzles are my idea of a wild Saturday night! Just kidding. A few years ago my family started a tradition of having a big puzzle going over the holidays and it’s actually a really nice way to come together. Whenever anyone wanders by they plug in a piece or two and the adults will often find themselves gathered around the table strewn with pieces drinking coffee in the morning or wine at night. I highly recommend it.
  • Make a holiday movie schedule to share with friends and family afar - This year my sweet partner put together a text chain and spreadsheet (yea, he’s that guy). He listed holiday movies for us all to watch around the same time so we can feel more connected despite that we won’t be seeing each other face to face. The only issues that arose were the inclusion of Diehard (is this really considered a Christmas movie?) and the fact that HE FORGOT TO INCLUDE ME ON THE TEXT CHAIN. Cue to me last week wondering why the heck all my siblings were talking about A Muppet Family Christmas.
  • Do something kind for someone else - Big or little, an act of kindness can be such a happiness boost to both the receiver and the giver. So find a way to help someone this winter - shovel a driveway, carry groceries, donate to an organization you believe in, call someone you haven’t talked with in a while, wave at a neighbor. Sometimes, those little actions can go a long way.

Holiday Trivia and Tidbits

  • The Winter Solstice - Man oh man. Those of us who really feel these short winter days can’t wait until we hit December 21st. The day of year with the fewest hours of daylight marks the start of the astronomical winter and has been celebrated by many cultures through the ages as a time of renewal and connection with the natural world. Maybe take a little time to reflect on December 21st and burn a candle to offer light during the dark day. Starting on the 22nd, the cyclical lengthening of daylight hours begins again.
  • The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree owl - A worker who helped transport and install New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree discovered a little saw-whet owl in its branches who had possibly made the 200 mile journey from upstate Oneonta to Manhattan. The little guy was dehydrated and hungry, but rehabilitated and released back into the wild for a much needed 2020 happy ending.
  • Guinness World Records largest gingerbread house - The world record for the largest gingerbread house was set in 2013 and is held by Traditions Club who built a gingerbread house that was 60 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 10.1 feet high at its tallest point!
  • Holiday goodies and cards get mailed - The United States Post Office anticipates the week of December 14-20 to be the busiest week of 2020 for mailing, shipping, and delivery. (Big thanks to our postal workers!) With all those gifts and holiday cards filling our mailboxes and possibly slowing delivery times, make sure to get your diapers ordered early so they have plenty of time to arrive. Gift yourself peace of mind in knowing you won’t be searching at the last minute through the deepest depths of the diaper bag in the hopes of finding one last diaper!
  • “Feliz Navidad” turns 50! - Singer Jose Feliciano is releasing a new version of his iconic Christmas soundtrack featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason Mraz, Shaggy, and others to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of his heart!
  • Weird New Year’s Dropped Items - And to wrap up the year, forget about the Times Square Ball Drop and take a dive into the strange things other cities drop to ring in the new year - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, drops a giant marshmallow Peep; Plymouth, Wisconsin, drops a chunk of cheese; and Flagstaff, Arizona, drops a great big pinecone just to name a few.

So hopefully you’ll find a few lighthearted ideas, projects, and crafts to keep your spirits bright this holiday season. It’s a different kind of year, but we can still find and spread some joy this winter. Stay cozy and safe and we’ll see you in 2021!