Try Some New Holiday Traditions!

Give thanks surrounded by autumn leaves

For many people, holidays are the time to gather together with people you don’t get to see every day. This year, it’s a little different.

If your year is anything like mine, you are living through things you never imagined when you pictured family life. Especially family life during the holidays.

As families around the world find new ways of functioning in the time of COVID-19, including remote learning at the kitchen table and masked basketball games with no spectators (if there is any basketball season at all where you live), the holidays present a whole new challenge. How to feel close to people when you can’t gather together to share a meal, play a game, or watch a holiday movie together?

For so many, this is the hallmark of the holiday season – togetherness. And it seems especially cruel that togetherness is the thing most often canceled in our global attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

But there’s another way to look at it. While holidays are bound to be different than usual this year, it’s the perfect chance to choose new ways of celebrating. And these new ways might just be better than the old ways. You may find yourself bringing the new traditions you establish this strange year into future years, because they are so much fun and such a wonderful way to honor the human spirit of creativity and flexibility!

Need some help? Here are a few ideas I’ll be incorporating into my own family time during the next few weeks. Let me know how they go!

Celebrate with Your Pets

For us, traveling to be with family on a holiday always means leaving beloved critters behind. Some we take with us, which can be a logistical nightmare, but chickens, ducks, and lizards don’t travel well, so we always relied on the kindness of neighbors to help with their care while we were gone. This season, all of our pets are getting heavy doses of holiday cheer. The cats and dogs gets lots of leftovers as treats, and my children are planning a very special warm mash for the ducks for their holiday feast. Making homemade treats for four-legged family members can be a great way to mark an occasion. And send those treats to the family pets you’ll be missing this year! While many people are hesitant to eat food prepared in the homes of others, dogs don’t care!

Go Beyond the Traditional

For many families, food is the pivotal point around which a holiday orbits. But for some people, trying to replicate Grandma’s pecan pie is likely to end in a pie that’s not quite right. So, create your own foodie traditions! And those recipes can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be! Who says cinnamon toast isn’t the perfect appetizer?

Connect with Zoom

On Thanksgiving, the video conferencing service Zoom made it easy and free to chat with relatives for as long as you’d like, a service that would be wonderful to continue through the month of December (hint, hint). But when you videoconference with loved ones, you don’t just have to sit and talk – play a game together! Games like Uno and Scattegories lend themselves to virtual play. Check out this article for more games and links great for Zoom. You can also watch a movie with loved ones through Zoom – someone simply needs to share their screen so everyone can see the movie playing. Try this method to watch the football game or the dog show! Some streaming services have apps that allow for more than one household to watch the same movie at the same time, too.

Do a Gratitude Project

Yeah, this year has been a tough one. But even in the midst of loss, stress, and fear, we need to keep some of our focus on the good, especially when there are children watching your every reaction to every headline. A gratitude project might simply be a written list of everything to be thankful for. Make a bracelet or necklace out of letter beads that spell out two or three things that are special. Arm your kids with fabric markers and set them loose on a new white tablecloth to create a keepsake of this very memorable holiday season. Anything we can do to remind ourselves that there is good in the world is essential right now. And best of all, these make wonderful gifts to share with those loved ones we haven’t seen in a while.

Help Others

The old adage is true – there’s always someone worse off than you. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to support your community, and a great chance for kids to see that helping others is always the right thing to do. And there is lots of volunteering that can be done without having to go indoors and be near people. Children can help shop for others who have trouble getting to stores, do small jobs to earn money to donate to charitable programs, and write cards and draw pictures to send to nursing homes to cheer up residents.

Get Outside

Even as we eat delicious food, snuggle up to watch favorite movies, and play games at the kitchen table, remember to take a break from the indoors to go for a hike, a bike ride, a walk down the street – anything to get out into nature. Holidays can be a reminder of what we’re missing this year, and as we try to focus on what we still have, a hearty dose of Vitamin Nature will go a long way in helping us feel better about ourselves and about the future.


Kids bored? Try some hands-on science that kids love! The activities in this free ebook are designed for independent learning and offer the perfect projects for school holidays.

Winter Science: A Guide for Home and Classroom

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