I can’t believe we’re already half way though August! For most of us, that means it wont be long before fall hits and we embark on the ‘holiday season’. It’s usually a time of year for family, friends, and gatherings, but thanks to COVID-19, this year won’t be the same. That’s why I wanted to share some tips to have a great holiday home, since we might as well make the best of it.
How to Have a Great Holiday At Home
This applies to more than just Christmas, too. Here in Canada, Thanksgiving takes place early October. Usually it’s a big deal. Especially since that’s also the weekend my oldest was born! But this year (and possible in 2021 too) we aren’t going to be celebrating in quite the same way.
Whatever you celebrate with your family, it’s important to still celebrate it this year despite all the lockdowns. You’re just going to have to adjust what it is that you do so you can stay safe and healthy – at home.
Mourn the loss
Before you start making new holiday plans, it’s totally acceptable to morn the loss of anything that you had been hoping for. Maybe this was a year you were planning on taking a big holiday trip, or perhaps you’re not able to go spend the holidays with your elderly parents accross the country.
Take time to mourn whatever it is that’s changed about this holiday season thanks to COVID. It’s completely normal, and acceptable to be upset. That includes being sad for your kids; this isn’t the holiday you had in mind for them either.
Manage your expectations and prepare for changes
This is something I keep stressing to my own family. My mom plans to fly across the country to see her father, who’s in poor health. While I don’t think it’s a good idea, here in Canada we have less restrictions, but we are definitely not safe from the effects of the virus.
If you have people coming to visit you that are travelling, make sure you have a plan in place for them to self isolate upon their arrival. Also, expect that things could change at the last minute and your guests might not come at all.
Stay within your bubble
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend that people host travelling guests or even large gatherings. But, some of us have created a kind of ‘COVID bubble’ of people that we are exclusively interacting with. In many cases, these bubbles include family members that live nearby, or at least good friends.
Instead of celebrating with a big group, have your trusted group of people join you for the holidays. It might not be quite the same, but at least you’ll still get to have some kind of gathering.
Celebrate with the kids
If seeing anyone isn’t an option, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating holidays just with your immediate family! This year is a great opportunity to create some new family traditions or really bond as a family unit around the holidays.
Get the kids involved with your holiday cooking and make the preparation, not just the eating, a family affair. Or do some fun themed activities at home to make the day more fun.
Throw ‘alternative’ holidays
Instead of doing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner or gathering around the table for Christmas (or your family’s preferred holiday) for dinner, do something a bit different. Break tradition and order food to go! Sitting around the table for pizza or Chinese food might not be the tradition, but it can still be a lot of fun.
What’s important is spending time as a family, not what you actually do on a holiday anyway. You can have a great holiday at home just by making it fun for your kids!
Use technology to connect with family and friends
What’s the saying for COVID? ‘Together, apart.’ It really applies in this case, during times when we can’t visit the people we care about most. Take advantage of that same technology we’ve been using to keep connected and use it to bring the family together.
That might mean a family call over zoom, or even playing games virtually around the holidays. When gifts are involved, bring the parents in the room by FaceTiming as they open their presents. You can even have a ‘virtual’ Thanksgiving dinner where everyone eats at the same time ‘together’ but over a video call.
Try and retain some normal
No doubt your kids are going to be upset that they can’t celebrate the holidays ‘normally’ too. Try and keep what you can control as normal as possible, so at least you capture some of that holiday feeling your kids know and look forward to.
That might mean starting your Christmas shopping earlier and online to make sure you can get what you need, or decorating a Thanksgiving table that will only be enjoyed by you, your spouse, and the kids.
For many people, COVID has meant unemployment and challenges. Even if you’re still working, you might have other COVID related expenses like increased childcare costs and rising food prices.
This is a good year to pare down your holiday gift giving and really focus on family time instead. If you are at home, take advantage of it and find some low cost or free activities to do as a family instead of gifts.
Times are tough, but everyone needs some holiday cheer. We need to be an inspiration to our families at this time and show them that even though things have changed, we still have a lot to celebrate. With so many people approaching the holidays having lost loved ones, if your family is all safe and healthy you have plenty to be thankful for.
If things have impacted your family harshly, it’s understandable that you might be upset around the holidays. Empty chairs around the table, or less gifts under the tree are all reasons to feel like 2020 is a pretty awful year.
Keep in mind that kids don’t really need much, though. Don’t stress if the holiday budget is light this year due to unemployment.
If you’re dealing with a personal loss, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to distract yourself with the holiday preparations (if that’s your style), but you also need to accept that you’re allowed to feel sad. Adjust your standards and focus on surviving during this difficult time.
Decide to have a great holiday at home
Alongside staying positive, it’s important that you get into the mindset early on that your holidays are going to be great. Even with everything going on. That means accepting what’s happening, and making a decision to not let it put a damper on your holiday spirit.
Once you decide to have a great holiday at home it will be a lot easier to make plans and find creative solutions to make it fun!