How to Celebrate Christmas in 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, families everywhere are spending Christmas apart. Here are a few ideas for celebrating the holiday virtually.

How to Celebrate Christmas in a Pandemic

Family gatherings and holiday parties have been different in 2020, but there are still ways to celebrate Christmas when your loved ones can’t make it home. Some of your 2020 adjustments might even become regular traditions. And embracing technology may allow more family members to join in on the festive fun.

Zoom and Online Christmas Celebrations

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been advised to avoid face to face contact as much as possible, but you can still see your niece’s newly brace-free smile this holiday season. Host a group video call with everyone who would typically attend Christmas with you. FaceTime, Zoom and Skype are a few good apps for video calls. Out-of-state friends and family who don’t attend in a typical year can also join in on the virtual Christmas fun.

Have a practice call with technology-challenged relatives before the big day. If you are the relative who doesn’t often video call, ask a tech-savvy relative to teach you. Visual aids can be helpful. Take screenshots and circle important buttons in a photo editing app. Or video call with one smart device, such as a phone or tablet, and point the camera at the device in question, such as a laptop or smart TV.

Prioritize Holiday Traditions

Don’t give up your traditions. Find ways to adapt them. Ask your family how they want to celebrate Christmas in 2020. Then, brainstorm ways to modify everyone’s favorite traditions for a virtual setting. For example, if your family always plays hearts after dinner, find an app that lets you play with friends. Many board games have online versions, too, like the classic Monopoly or popular Sequence.

Of course, sitting around the table and sharing a meal is a major Christmas tradition, but the average dining table doesn’t let you sit six feet apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends scheduling a virtual meal instead. This is a great opportunity to show off a new recipe or your presentation skills.

Outdoor Tree Trimming

The CDC recommends taking activities outdoors whenever possible, so if you plan to have family over to decorate the tree, consider adorning one in your yard. You can grow Christmas trees at home. Or, you can decorate any tree or shrub already planted in your landscaping.

Outdoor Christmas decorations let you share your holiday cheer with the whole neighborhood. Connect your Christmas lights to a smart plug or timer to save energy.

Safety Tips and Considerations for Christmas 2020

While it’s best to limit gatherings to only those in your household, there are some safety measures you can take if you plan to travel this year. Keep an eye on the number of cases in your area and your destination, follow local travel restrictions and CDC domestic travel guidelines, wear a mask correctly while indoors and outdoors, stay at least six feet apart from people who don’t live with you, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

If you plan to host a holiday gathering, provide clean, unused masks and hand sanitizer for your guests.

Different Can Be Special, so Make Memories

Although it’s disappointing to be away from family for the holidays, trying something new can be loads of fun. This year, download a free app version of a new board game. When it’s safe to get together again, bring the real version. If your new recipe turns out well, share it with the group at the next in-person party.

A few more ideas from the CDC: host an ugly sweater contest, send instructions for a holiday craft, have a gingerbread house contest and open gifts together—virtually. And some ideas from Family Handyman: leave leftovers on nearby family members’ doorsteps, donate would-be gift funds to a favorite charity and make a family recipe book so you can still have Aunt Sherry’s famous cookies for Christmas 2020.

For more advice on staying safe this holiday season, view the CDC winter holiday guidelines.