holiday baking with kids

Festive, from afar: How to celebrate while social distancing

The festive season is upon us!!! But it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, as we face another potential quarantine, remote learning, sports shutdown . . . you know the drill.

We may not be going out as much as we normally do at holiday time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the season during a pandemic. Here are ways to celebrate while social distancing — easy ways to spread cheer and spark the spirit of the season, while staying safe.

Decorate … extra

I know what you’re thinking — this one is an absolute no-brainer, and also nothing different from “regular” years. But pandemic holiday time means to me that we can go a little EXTRA — decorate outside, decorate inside — make your home a festive frenzy of snowmen and candles and seasonal stuff that you love and that makes you happy.

Bake … extra

Not only is it fun and delicious, but it makes the house smell so good, too. Play holiday music, let each kid choose a new recipe, and dedicate a whole day to baking. Here are two of our favorites — more to come!
Pumpkin bread
Apple muffins

Step it up a notch and do a recipe swap with your friends — pick a recipe for them to make and vice versa, then let each other know how it turns out.

Neighborhood themes

Does your town or community or neighborhood have an email list or a Facebook group or some way to easily communicate with each other? If yes, pick a theme or event all can participate in that will help spread joy to all who pass by. Something like lawn decorating, building a holiday village, putting out funny signs — something that will bring a smile to the community.

Have fun helping

One of my favorite things to do around holiday time is to hold our annual Cupcakes and Kindness party. Kids get together at our house to decorate cupcakes for a fun/festive time together, and then they take them home to enjoy. But you can tell from the name that it’s not just about cupcakes. In order to participate, you need to bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots — spreading kindness and helping families in need. We obviously can’t have a bunch of kids in our house decorating cupcakes this year, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to have some fun, spread cheer, and help others. So, we’re changing it up, and this year, we’re hosting Cookies and Kindness. It’s a drop-by, outdoor event where you can self-serve hot cocoa, drop off your Toys for Tots gift, and head home to enjoy decorating adorable delicious cookies from a local bakery – Confectionistas. Still festive, still safe, still helping others, spreading cheer, and giving kids an activity to do.


This one will get a lot of eye-rolls and a lot of “nope, no way” reactions. Maybe even some super-annoyed recipients. In a world of texting, what would happen if you picked up a phone and called someone? Remember that feeling of hearing your old friend’s laugh, or hearing a story straight from their mouth, not read on a screen? Try it. It’s heartwarming.


Surprise someone with a holiday gift — something small, something homemade, something store-bought — anything to show a bit of thought just when they had no idea you were thinking about them at all. This is a fun one to have kids participate in, either suprising their siblings or friends down the street or across town. I’m always trying to get my boys to “lift people up,” and this is a perfect way to do it.

Virtual Game Night

Gather! Grab some snacks and drinks! No masks required because this is a virtual party from the comfort of your own home. Some friends of ours arranged a virtual game night during quarantine, and it was so much fun! Set up a zoom call, and check out jackbox games. Instant party. Nice and festive — from afar.

Get outside

Baby, it’s cold outside (at least where I live). But that doesn’t mean we can’t go out. Bundle up and play some family football, or street hockey, or walk around the neighborhood looking at the stars or decorations. Make up a scavenger hunt for the kids — anything goes! You can look for something shaped like a candy cane, fallen leaves, a squirrel, rocks, tree with lights, car parked on a street — ANYTHING to make a game and challenge and FUN out of a time when we’re spending a bit more time than usual staying close to home.

Stuff Stockings

If you don’t celebrate a holiday with stockings, stuff socks or something else. What are we stuffing them with? How about if everyone in your household writes down on little pieces of paper 31 things they love about the other people in the house. Write them down, stuff them in the sock. Then, for each day in December, the recipient gets to pull out one special note or message that is sure to make them smile. Easy to do with friends and neighbors, too!

What are you changing up this year to stay festive from afar?

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