7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Christmas Safely in 2020

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I would like to share 7 creative ways to celebrate Christmas safely in 2020.

Let’s be honest. It’s been a tough year. And many of us love the holidays in particular for the gatherings and visits with friends and family. It may be one of your favorite how to be happy parts of the holidays!

But, this year, such gatherings are ill-advised. As covid-19 is on a huge upward spike all across the United States, and as the days grow colder and we move indoors more–the long-awaited family gatherings could be deadly. No one wants that!

But that doesn’t mean Christmas is cancelled. We all know that’s not possible–you’ve seen the Grinch, right? 🙂

Christmas is about spirit

Christmas is in our hearts and minds–not in the usual trappings. Not even in the usual traditions of gatherings and family time.

Of course, it often is centered around time together. And that’s nice. But not when it poses a potential health threat. Simply not worth it!

We need to find a way to be together this year in a safe way (which may be a big change for many) and to celebrate in some news ways that capture the joy and the love of this special time of year.

Different can be good

Doing things in a different way may be a bummer for you. But as I have discussed before, sometimes a challenging time can offer some good lessons and surprising blessings. A big part of it is adopting the right attitude…changing perspective.

Here are a few ways to celebrate Christmas safely that I came up with. They may or may not fit for you where you live, or in your family situations. But they can serve as a starting point for you to get your own creative ideas flowing. 🙂

Keep in mind these are substitutes for regular practices –so maybe not as satisfying in some ways, but fulfilling in others. 🙂

  1. Have a holiday meal potluck/exchange
  2. Shake up your gift giving routine
  3. Hand write Christmas cards
  4. Adopt a family in need
  5. Plan an outdoor activity
  6. Give the gift of time
  7. Celebrate in short frequent sessions

Have a holiday meal potluck/exchange

So gathering inside and sitting around the table eating and talking is not a good idea. If you live where it’s warm enough, you can eat outside and space out 10 feet or so. Masks off only when way apart. But maybe that feels weird?

Food is certainly one fun aspect of the holidays. Maybe, rather than gathering to eat, arrange an exchange. Let’s say you usually have a party with 4 families. Decide on the theme–maybe you want to create a meal with everyone bringing a dish. Or maybe you want to just exchange desserts/treats.

Each family brings their contribution, individually wrapped for the other participants, and sets it at an assigned spot on a table. Maybe, with masks on, you hang around outside a fire for an hour or so with Christmas music on…then take your goodies home to eat.

Or if it’s too cold, just meet for the exchange and call or text or facetime or zoom as you eat… or just afterwards to express gratitude.

Or if you normally meet with distant family members, maybe you can do a recipe exchange and Skype or Facetime as you each try the other’s recipe.

Shake up your gift giving routine as another way to celebrate Christmas safely

Since traditional gift exchanges aren’t safe this year, adding some variation to your gift giving traditions can compensate for that loss–and will make for a memorable holiday experience .

There are many possible variations of this depending on your list and how you normally do things.

Check your list–twice!

You could institute a secret Santa aspect to your giving, either as an additional component or for all of it. Surprises are always fun. A gift in the mail one day. Another delivered to work or left on your doorstep. We’ve done this in the past at home…and it was just small surprises. A candy cane on your pillow. A picture to color on your desk (with crayons supplied). An ornament on your bedroom doorknob.

Spreading the fun out over the season instead of building it all up to a single night is great! So if you normally mail a box of gifts to your parents. Maybe spread it out over a few weeks. You can get prepaid priority boxes to limit your trips to the PO and also to help you shop–so you get things that fit in the boxes.

The possibilities are endless and depend a lot on specific circumstances. Spend a bit of time thinking about what might be fun for you and yours. It’s what Santa would do 😉

Here’s a holiday version of a Love Jar. Decorate a mason jar or a vase or box and fill it with positive messages–uplifting quotes as well as memories or expressions of love and appreciation for the recipient. You could also include promises of outings or treats that will be delivered when gathering is safe. Such a gift can be kept on display and dipped into whenever needed.

Some gifts of time are also wonderful-maybe offer to put up some outdoor decorations or do some errands or tasks for someone who is overwhelmed or at risk or elderly. Gifts of time are great year round, of course, but taking time to do them over what is usually a time packed with parties and visiting can fill a bit of the void.

No you can’t hang out inside together, but maybe your loved one can sit on the porch and you can chat while you shovel snow or sweep off the driveway or ?? It’s like a dual purpose visit–a useful task is done and you will have shared some moments.

Hand write Christmas cards

Personally I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards. A lot of people have faded away from this tradition in this electronic age …and I get it. Cards take time and might be seen as a waste of resources (especially if you don’t at least recycle or repurpose). But this year, you might want to rethink the idea.

We are all in varying degrees of isolation and staying home. But one blessing to be found in more time at home and/or alone is time to appreciate and consider Life’s big questions and our own life’s path. This path, of course, includes those we love.

So a holiday in which we need to stay apart is a perfect holiday to write some heart-felt Christmas cards! Not only does the card itself add a bit of brightness to the day it arrives, but if you include a message of appreciation and love, that message can be re-read and will uplift the recipient throughout the holiday season!

You might even consider recording a message–lots of ways to do this. Hearing someone’s voice saying nice things has a little more impact maybe. There are books for kids that can be read/recorded also, if you are missing a visit with a child.

A more techie. idea, but similar in intent, is to send a text every day in December to a loved one (or various loved ones) with a personal message of love and appreciation. I will be doing this for my dad who lives alone, using Bitmojiis–which are pretty cute and colorful. 🙂

Adopt a family in need

Obviously a lot of families are having financial troubles in these covid days. Maybe you already have charities you give to for the holidays. These are great, of course. But getting involved personally is also rewarding. 🙂

The trick might be finding a local family that needs help. Or maybe you have a lot of contacts, know a lot of people? If you can’t find someone yourself there are lots of ways to do this through organizations–maybe call some local churches.

Then choose to either make this a group project or a solo one and have fun being part of creating a fun holiday for a person or a family in need–the more thought and effort you put into it, the more it will awaken your Christmas Spirit and elicit the joy of the season!

I saw someone on Twitter suggest paying for someone’s groceries in line or other spontaneous charitable acts if you are in a position to do so. Lots of grocery stores collect money for feeding local people too. Lots of ways to give if you can’t find a family per se. Paying off a layaway item for a stranger is also a good idea.

It’s too late for this year, maybe, but I used to have a Christmas Jar that I saved change in all year (you could just fill it with cash and a gift card)…I would choose a house in a poor area and leave it outside the door (my kids liked to play the elf and leave it :)). I didn’t typically wait until they found it–I figured whoever found it was likely in need.

Plan an outdoor activity

We should not have large gatherings inside, if we care about our loved ones’ health. But the great outdoors is, well, a great place to gather! By gather I don’t mean sit around right next to people with no masks on. But some sort of active gathering.


  • A bike ride
  • A hike
  • A snow-shoe walk in the woods
  • A leisurely stroll in the neighborhood or a park.
  • A walk through a botanical garden
  • A Christmas lights search

I’d still wear a mask if you’re closer than 6 feet apart as you do whatever…but the wide open air is just the sort of ventilation that helps limit risks!

Give the gift of time

Typically the holiday season is bustling. But much of that relates to travel plans and parties and shopping excursions and social activities. While many of the “tasks” of the holidays still exist even if we don’t travel and party etc…, you may find yourself with a bit of extra time on your hands if you embrace the idea of staying home more for health and safety.

This means that you can consider giving some gifts of time to people on your list.

  • Know someone who’s overworked and under financial strain? Make a few casseroles or meals that can be frozen and then warmed up for an easy meal after a busy day.
  • Spend that extra time on the phone with your talkative Aunt who may be a bit lonely.
  • Offer to shovel someone’s driveway for the month.
  • Bring groceries to someone who’s quarantining.
  • Offer to shop or pick up items for a friend or co-worker.
  • Walk someone’s dog for them

Celebrate in short more frequent sessions

Rather than one or two extended visits with friends and family over the holidays, if you live nearby, you can do shorter, more frequent visits this season. Maybe try to make it festive by bringing a “treat” each time.

  • Get the kids to come with you and sing a few carols for the grandparents and leave behind some Christmas cookies and some hot chocolate.
  • Stop by on your own, mask on, and go inside for 10 minutes…see if there’s an errand or task you can help with. This applies more to older family, but families of all types and ages can use a helping hand
  • Plan several short visits (10-15 mins) which can be inside with every one masked up and distant–exchange, gifts, cards, treats, recipes, movies…one thing on each visit.
  • Plan a hug. Yes, hugs require planning for now 😛 Read this information to see if you think it’s worth the risk–if you live in an area where covid is especially bad, it might be better to skip this for now, though. 🙁
  • This suggestion overlaps with others–but make more frequent calls and texts throughout the season. As a replacement for the extra time we typically see family and friends over the holidays, short frequent contacts can fill that void to a degree.

Happy Holidays! Yep, it’s possible.

So there you have it. A list of creative suggestions on how to celebrate Christmas safely and make 2020’s Christmas and holiday season memorable and joyful! After all, we all want to be around to enjoy many more special moments together for years to come.

Perspective is everything when it comes to happiness–especially happiness in otherwise trying times. So this holiday season–while trying in some ways- is a perfect time to re-evaluate things in your life, and how you handle challenges. Consider my 30 Days to a Happier Life Challenge to guide you this season–or save it for afterwards.

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About Cate

I am a retired RN–stayed home after my second child was born, having worked for 10 years. I am in my mid-50s now, and I enjoy blogging, designing mugs and more and spreading a bit of positivity in the world.

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