With worries of a second wave of COVID-19 cases this winter, holiday gatherings across the country are being scaled back to ensure safe social distancing.
These unprecedented times have highlighted the resilience of the human connection. While many people are coming together in small social bubbles, others are choosing to get creative—modifying traditional activities and even coming up with new ideas on how to celebrate together.
For those unable to be with their loved ones in the traditional sense, here are five ways to enjoy some much needed family time this holiday season.
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland
With our area’s relatively mild winters, there are many options for gathering safely (and comfortably) outside to spread some festive cheer.
At two local Christmas tree farms, some beloved outdoor holiday activities will continue with safety measures in place.
Sloan’s Christmas Village in Bothwell and Bastien Tree Farm in McGregor will allow patrons to cut their own Christmas trees, choose from pre-cut trees, and enjoy campfires and nature trails. Photo areas, concessions, and some modified festive activities will also be available; be sure to check their hours and safety protocols before you venture out.
Prefer to stay closer to home? Instead of a traditional indoor tree trimming, opt for an outdoor decorating party. String the lights, break out the inflatables, and spruce up your front yard with friends and family. Don’t forget to turn up the holiday music!
Take your gift-giving on the road with Secret Santa–style porch deliveries.
First, use an online name generator to pick your gift recipients. Drawnames.ca, elfster.com, or sneakysanta.com are all great options and allow you to input exceptions (for example, your dad couldn’t end up pulling your mom’s name, etc.)
Choose a day for drop-offs, with everyone leaving the gifts somewhere secure, like a back porch, breezeway, or garage. On Christmas Day (or another day of your choosing), organize a group video chat where everyone takes turns opening their gifts and guessing who their Secret Santa is.
Have family out of town? Ship your gifts early to avoid any mail delays.
Take your holiday video chats to the next level with fun games and activities.
The video chatting app Houseparty features a number of games you can play together as a group including a trivia challenge, Head’s Up, and Apples to Apples.
Have a gaming console? Quiz-based video games like Jackbox can be played remotely. Just hop on your favourite videoconferencing service (like Zoom or Google Hangouts) and share your screen so everyone can see. Players can login on their mobile devices to play along.
You could also kick it old school with classic games like Charades and Pictionary, with free online idea generators to help you get started.
Want to support local? A number of Windsor-area businesses can create and host private online parties, like a painting class from Julie’s Paint Party or custom trivia from Mack Flash Entertainment.
Light it Up
While Bright Lights Windsor is taking a hiatus for the 2020 season, there are several other public light displays open for safe outdoor viewing.
Amherstburg’s River Lights Winter Festival will continue throughout the holiday season, with hundreds of beautiful light displays at King’s Navy Yard, Toddy Jones Park, and surrounding businesses every night until January 4.
Many local organizations have also adapted their normal holiday events to fit current safety measures, with outdoor activities, winter markets, and “reverse” Santa Claus parades happening across the area.
Another great way to enjoy the colours of the season together? Bundle up, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, and meet loved ones in a different neighbourhood for a fun walking tour of residential light displays across the city.
Host a Drive-By Cookie Swap
Worried about missing out on Grandma’s famous shortbread this Christmas? Share all your family favourites in a driveway cookie swap.
First, decide who’s baking what—each household chooses one or two different recipes to tackle. Then, bake and package a dozen for each family involved. Set a date, and meet in someone’s driveway to safely exchange your goodies.
You could even expand on the idea and host a driveway potluck swap, with everyone in charge of bringing one individually packaged savoury dish to reheat so you can all share the same meal together, even if you’re apart. Pandemic or not, there’s no way you should have to forego enjoying your mom’s mashed potatoe
Sloan’s Christmas Village—https://www.facebook.com/SloansChristmasVillage
Bastien Tree Farm—https://www.facebook.com/Bastien-Tree-Farm-111580775874708
Julie’s Paint Party—https://www.facebook.com/juliespaintparty (@juliespaintparty on Instagram)
Mack Flash Entertainment—https://www.facebook.com/mackflashentertainment (@mackflash in Instagram)