Holiday Fun for the Socially Distanced

It’s going to be a difficult holiday season for anyone who’s used to getting together with family and friends. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across America, many are choosing not to travel or to celebrate only with a handful of close contacts.

But that doesn’t mean that the fun has to end!

The most obvious way to celebrate is to fire up the phone, tablet or computer and have a videoconference with your loved ones. Yes, it can be disconcerting to keep your eyes on the screen for hours on end, but it’s a great way to keep in touch.

Add a #festive virtual background to your call, Good Housekeeping suggests, to keep the #holiday spirit alive. An added bonus? You can speak from a pretend winter wonderland, a professionally decorated drawing room or the set of your favorite Hallmark movie.

You can still engage in traditional holiday pastimes such as baking cookies, taking a drive to see the holiday light displays or sending letters to Santa without getting into too many strangers’ airspace, Postable says.

Another activity is to send the holiday cards you might not have had time to send last year. Even though this blog is going live with only 10 days until Christmas, nobody is going to complain if your greeting arrives a day or two late or send a New Year’s card instead.

Consider sending one of your cards to a local #veteran you know (or find one at a nearby chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association or other organization). They are getting older and will need to stay isolated to protect their health this year, and a card might brighten their season.

If you find yourself beset with holiday #clutter after all of the virtual celebrations are over, consider bagging and boxing your unused and unwanted stuff and contacting ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. It will be resold to new households, and the proceeds will benefit veterans programs.

The Organizing Blog wishes you and yours a safe, happy, healthy and clutter-free holiday season!

How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday

By the time you read this, the year’s extraordinarily short #holiday shopping season will be nearly over. If you haven’t completed your shopping by now, you’ll have to pay for overnight shipping or brave the last-minute crowds at an old-school retail store.

As the clock winds down, you may also have meals to prepare and gifts to wrap. You may need to do an airport run to help far-flung family members join in the fun. You may even need to fit all of these activities in around your work schedule.

That’s a lot of stress. But there are ways to defuse that stress and enjoy the holidays.

The first is to know when you’ve done enough. Striving to create the “perfect” holiday can drive you nuts. There may be a few “nice to haves” or traditions that you just can’t fit into the holiday plan this year — and that’s OK. The sun will rise and set without them.

If you’re short a gift, you can give cash, buy a gift card or sign your giftee up for a subscription service that periodically delivers coffee, tea or wine. There are also plenty of all-digital gift options that can help show you care instantaneously.

Take advantage of services that take some of the work off your hands. Retailers are only too happy to wrap that gift or assemble that piece of furniture. The local bakery can provide a pie, and you can ask guests to bring a side dish.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when the big event arrives. A thoughtful guest will volunteer, of course, but many people may need reminding as they celebrate with family and friends. This is a great way to keep kids occupied ahead of a gift grab.

You can set deadlines on what you need to get done, but build in an hour or two of serenity to maintain your sanity. “Head outdoors for a refreshing change of scene,” Woman’s Day suggests. “Take a starlit nighttime stroll through your neighborhood to view the holiday lights.”

You don’t have to do it all — and even if you could, it wouldn’t add to your enjoyment of the holiday season or anyone else’s. Focus on the big picture and know when to “say when,” and you’ll be able to create warm holiday memories without the stress.

Craft Your Own Holiday Cards

One of the best ways to keep the holidays cheap is to rely on your own creativity to carry the season. Start today by making and sending handmade cards to your friends and family, HGTV suggests. With a few simple materials — paper, glue, felt, glitter and so on — you can easily make cards that look like they cost a fortune. Try creating a Santa card with a cotton-ball beard, for example, a winter scene with glitter “snow” or a card that turns into an ornament. Whatever you craft, it will be inexpensive and fun to spread a little bit of holiday cheer.

Holiday Decorating on the Cheap

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore — or break the bank — if you get creative. Even small spaces can share the joy of the season with DIY projects such as a tabletop or twig tree, Good Housekeeping says. Evergreen garlands and clippings can bring the colors and scent of the season into the home, while a handmade “tree” or card display can serve as the focal point of the room. Don’t forget to place candles and string lights strategically throughout the house to make the holidays feel warm and magical, the story says, even as you keep an eye on your budget.

Homemade Foods Make Great Holiday Gifts

Having trouble deciding what to give family and friends? There’s one thing you can give that everyone needs and appreciates — food! HGTV offers 45 easy-to-make recipes for mouthwatering seasonal treats that are equally good for entertaining or gifting. Whether you try your hand at toffee or fudge, marmalade or bread, crinkle cookies or caramels, giftees will appreciate the time and effort you put in to create holiday cheer from scratch before devouring your tasty treats. You can make extra so that you have some on hand for those surprise guests, too!