According to a survey by American Hotel & Lodging Association, 69 percent of Americans said they were unlikely to travel for Christmas. So this year you'll probably need to find creative ways to celebrate the holidays with anyone who isn't in your bubble. Here are our suggestions of how to feel connected even when we're apart.
The holiday meals that I cook at my mom's house aren't the same one I cook when I'm at my own. This year share recipes with friends and family, and blend your menus together, so no matter where you are you'll all share some of the same foods and tastes. If you're up to it, video chat during the preparation, to help all the other cooks make your signature dish taste (mostly) the way it would if you were there in person.
Do you celebrate Christmas while your friends celebrate Hannukkah? Do you usually buy your Sufganiyah (deep-fried jelly donuts) instead of making them at home? Try something new. Go out on a limb. Learn how to make a new dish. Pick up the traditions of a friend, especially something from a different cultural heritage than your own.
Are you stuck on the beach when you'd normally be playing in snow? Find ways to bring some of your holiday tradition to whatever venue you find yourself in. Hang lights in your hotel room. Join a digital party. Turn up the AC and pull on an ugly sweater. Cook the local starch as though it was mashed potatoes. Wear your swim trunks over your snowpants. Get creative but don't let your location dictate how you celebrate.
Turn on your camera and get ready to live stream so you and your friends or family can watch each other open presents. If it takes an hour for you to unwrap all the goodies you bought yourself, maybe don't make your audience sit through the whole unboxing video. But do share your at-the-moment reaction to that special package you got with the person who sent it. Did you already open something and then discover it was a bigger deal than you thought? Wrap that baby back up and get ready to do your Oscar-winning performance of surprise and delight in front of the camera.
With all of the shelters empty, it's pretty clear many of you are now celebrating the holidays with rescue pets for the first time. So get ready to create some new traditions! Not only will you want to create some fun new celebrations that involve your furry friend, but you'll also likely find them inserting themselves into your old traditions in a way that makes them new again. So get them an ugly sweater, doggy-approved treats, or kitty-endorsed toys. (And then expect them to discard those expensive items in exchange for hours with the box, wrapping paper, ornaments, ribbons, or fancy decorations.)
Eating Chinese food over the holidays became a thing when those who don't celebrate Christmas learned that Chinese restaurants were some of the only eateries open on December 25. This year we may not be gathering in restaurants for Kung Pao, but we can all order take-out in our own towns and sit down in front of the camera to share a virtual meal togethter.
Bars may be closed but you can mix up that holiday cocktail or alchohol-free drink at home. There are lots of traditional drinks to try, from eggnog to mulled wine to hot cider to Irish coffee to cranberry cocktails. Find what wets your whistle and share it with your friends over social or live video.
You don't have to be Black to celebrate Kwanzaa, or to want a tradition that is less commercialized than Christmas. The holiday (December 26-January 1st) celebrates pan-African and African-American culture and finds its roots in traditional African first harvest celebrations. Learn more about the holiday, celebrate African-American culture through foods and arts, or reflect on the contributions Black Americans have made to this country.
Thanks to televised firework celebrations from around the world, New Years has long been an opportunity for virtual travel. Watch each continent ring in the new year, pop some champagne or sparkling apple juice, or light some sparklers in the back yard. Create a ceremony by which to celebrate the end of the Trump administration. Think about what you're thankful is ending, what you accomplished this year, what you hope for 2021. And find a way to share it all with your friends and family.