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Putting a New Twist on Annual Holiday Traditions

While gathering together for traditional holiday activities might not be possible this year, there are still ways to celebrate. It just may take a little creative ingenuity to put a new twist on annual holiday traditions.

What better time to create some new family holiday traditions than 2020? We can’t celebrate the way we usually would. So this is the perfect opportunity to find new ways to make the pandemic holidays special. Below are some creative ideas to continue a couple of my favorite holiday festivities in a safe way this year and a list of traditional activities that are always safe and fun!

One of my favorite traditions is baking tons and tons of Christmas cookies and sharing them with friends and family. A friend of mine hosts an annual Cookie Swap where everyone brings their favorite cookie and then takes home an assortment of cookies. This is an awesome way to find new recipes and enjoy some fun time together. Getting together in person may not be possible this year (gatherings aren’t allowed where I live right now), but there’s no reason the cookie swap can’t continue. Here’s how you can put a new twist on this activity:

  • Host a virtual event. Have each person share their favorite cookie recipe with the host. The host can compile all the recipes and send them out to all the guests. Then have everyone get together on Zoom to chat and socialize as they usually would.
  • Have each person bake their cookies as usual and wrap up 4-5 cookies in individual packages with the recipes attached. Drop them off at the host’s house and the host can compile all the cookie packages. Then, each person can come back at a set time to pick up their batch of cookies from the swap.
  • If outdoor gatherings are allowed in your area (and the weather is amenable), you could host your cookie swap outdoors. Just be sure your friends and family maintain a safe social distance and wear their masks. Cookies could still be wrapped in individual packages of 4-5 so everyone can select their cookies to take home with less risk of spreading germs.

A New Twist on Visiting Santa

Taking the kids to visit Santa may be especially challenging this year as Santa obviously needs to stay healthy to be able to deliver all our presents for Christmas. But there are a ton of creative solutions available so this can still be done in a safe way for everyone.

  • Some store Santas are behind a piece of plexiglass where photos can still be taken without any close contact. The best part is, you can’t even tell the plexi is there in the photo! Kids can drop off a letter to Santa for him to read later.
  • There are multiple online ways to reach out to Santa this year too. This article provides an outline of several opportunities to see Santa virtually.
  • Check with your local photographers to see what they’re doing this year. Our favorite family photographer came up with a new twist to see Santa. She had him sit in an antique truck in the background while my family sat on a couch together. And these just may be my favorite family holiday photos ever! Plus, this is perfect for those little ones who are terrified of Santa!
a new twist on Santa photos

Traditional Activities Without a Twist

While some things will need to be changed or adapted this year, there are still activities you can enjoy in the usual way.

  • Drive around to look at Christmas lights. Find a list of the best lights in your area, pack the car with treats and hot chocolate, put some Christmas tunes on the radio and drive around with your family to take in the sights. There are also multiple drive-thru light displays taking place across the county that are fundraisers for various non-profits. Check online for an event like this near you.
  • Revive the old holiday tradition of Christmas caroling. This can easily be done in a safe and socially-distanced manner with your immediate family. How cool would it be to put a smile on the face of your neighbors by visiting them with some holiday tunes?
  • Build a gingerbread house. This is a fun activity on its own, but you could also put a new twist on this and host a virtual Gingerbread House contest. Each household can decorate their own gingerbread house. Then everyone can gather together online to reveal their completed house and vote on the winner.
  • Deliver Secret Santa gifts with porch drop-offs. You could do this for family members, friends, or neighbors who live nearby. For family that lives farther away, mail a special care package ahead of the holidays.
  • Adopt a family to support this holiday season. There are more families than ever in need of help providing Christmas gifts for their families this year. There are multiple avenues to adopt a family or children for Christmas, just search online. My family’s favorite is the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. We select a family off the tree every year and my kids love helping to pick out the gifts for that family.

Wishing You a Safe & Happy Holiday Season

No matter what activities you decide to do, I’m hoping everyone finds a way to celebrate the season in a safe manner. We may have to do things a little differently this year, but it’s worth it to be able to all be together again next year!

Trista Gangestad

Originally from Florida, Trista Gangestad and her family moved to CO ten years ago and live on a small hobby farm with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband have 2 daughters, the oldest of which was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder. Trista has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and worked in Communications and Event Planning for more than 10 years before becoming a mom. During the pandemic, Trista discovered a need for clean burning candles that don’t emit soot or chemicals into our homes. She formed Clever Cow Candle Co. in 2021 and makes hand poured, 100% soy wax candles with clever, inspiring and sometimes sarcastic designs on the containers. Check out her candles at When this busy mom has time for herself, she enjoys sewing, crafting, shopping, drinking “candy coffee,” and watching guilty pleasure TV shows.

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