How To Make Christmas Not Suck in 2020

Or, things to do to make your holidays special despite quarantine.

This year we’re all being faced with a real-life Grinch: COVID. It feels we’re all desperate for Christmas to begin, and we could all use a little cozy this season.

But with COVID resurgences and many states closing up again, a lot of traditional Christmas plans are probably going to be derailed.

The restrictions don’t have to ruin Christmas: the end is in sight, and we can celebrate Christmas and the coming vaccine at the same time. In fact, let’s make this the best Christmas ever.

All of these ideas are things you can do with just your immediate family, and some would even work if you’re on your own. How can COVID ruin Christmas when you’ve got plans like this up your sleeve?

1. Do An Advent Calendar

If you’re like me and the last time you had time for an advent calendar was 2010, now’s a good year to start. With practically everything in the world closed down (okay, really just movie theaters. Let’s just say this was not the year to invest in the refillable 2020 popcorn bucket), and all that extra time on your hands, why not? My favorite advent calendar method is to tuck a slip of paper into each drawer/pocket, with a Christmassy activity printed on it.

2. Keep It Cozy All December Long

Use Christmassy scents in your house. Get some extra-special Christmas teas, coffee creamers or hot cocoa. Buy yourself fuzzy socks and Christmas jammies. Listen to Christmas music. Bake something special on a weekday just because it’s December. (Gingerbread. ‘Nuff said.) Buy sugary kids’ Christmas cereal (even if you don’t have kids. Actually especially if you don’t have kids.) Get seasonal ice creams for weekday December desserts. Top everything with Christmas sprinkles.

3. Watch Non-Traditional Christmas Movies

Okay, if you love Home Alone but you fall asleep at the end of it every year, I won’t judge (I’m too busy well, falling asleep.) Check out my article in Crown of Beauty Magazine on the top ten Christmas movies on Hallmark Movies Now this year–you don’t even have to leave the house to download the Hallmark movies app. Then check out my post on 25 Christmas movies To Add To Your Watchlist ASAP. You will love how it brightens up the holidays to mix some new favorites in with the old.

4. Buy Some Gifts For The Needy

Toys for Tots has boxes available pretty much everywhere, and if your church has a gift drive, it can be fun to see the gifts pile up. If you don’t have kids to buy gifts for, this is like automatic permission to buy every gift you’ve been wishing you could. Otherwise, you can involve kids on this one too, having them pick out gifts they’d like themselves and teaching them it’s better to give than to receive.

5. Bake As A Family

If you don’t already do a kids’ cookie baking day, now’s a good year to start — let the kids cut out shapes while you man the oven. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, set up a sprinkle and frosting smorgasbord, and let the kids go to town. But you don’t have to limit it to just cookies. If you have older kids, they can help out baking with tougher stuff; and maybe this is actually the year to make a gingerbread house — like this easy Salt Dough + Milk Carton Faux Sugar Cookie House. Or a life size cardboard gingerbread house like this one.

6. Change Up An Old Tradition

Is it just me, or does Target have more beautiful stockings every year? Try buying (or making) new stockings that match everyone’s personality, or having each family member pick out a new stocking (while sticking to a color scheme if you’re into it.) Bake a new kind of Christmas cookie or an old twist on a classic, or listen to Christmas songs you aren’t totally sick of. The same goes for putting a new spin on any tradition: finding a way to freshen it up can make the holidays brighter instead of the same old, same old.

7. Learn A New Craft Or Hobby

‘Tis the season for scarves. And chunky hats. And boot cuffs. Making yarn crafts in Christmas colors makes it even better: the chunkier the yarn the better. Really anytime cold weather rolls around, I get a hankering to knit or crochet again. But don’t stop there — you and a friend, daughter, or sister could learn a new skill together like weaving, making a DIY Christmas village (check out these awesome ones on A Beautiful Mess, VandiFair, and The Craft Patch Blog.)

8. Have A Sit-Down Breakfast

Yes, may people do this tradition already; but why not extend it to the weekend before Christmas as well as the big day itself?

9. Go To A Drive-Through Living Nativity

A quick Google search could lead you to drive through living nativities in your area that are still on! This is a great activity for Christmas Eve or the week leading up to Christmas.

10. Drive Around To Look At Christmas Lights

This is one Christmas activity COVID can’t touch. Best if done in Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve. While drinking hot cocoa. Check Facebook or Google for local displays.

11. Attend A Christmas Eve Service Online

Check out your local church’s website for information on livestreamed Christmas Eve services, with encouraging words, beautiful music, and an inspiring way start to the new year.

12. Have An Untraditional Dinner

Okay, you probably won’t want to mess with Christmas Dinner. But Christmas Eve’s meal isn’t quite as set in stone–why not try something unique and off-the-beaten-path to start off the holiday? Even better, duplicate a meal from one of your favorite Christmas movies. Chinese take-out, or burgers and fries from All I Want for Christmas, macaroni and cheese like in Home Alone, ice cream sundaes straight out of Home Alone 2, spaghetti with maple syrup from Elf, or the hot cocoa from The Santa Clause. (Just don’t spend 1200 years perfecting it.)

13. Play Video Games As A Family

Okay, there is nothing more Christmassy than acting like a kid on Christmas. That means opening up a brand new game and running to the basement to blast some battle droids’ heads off. But seriously. This is the year to buy the kid in your life — or yourself — that ultimate Christmas present. A new game system, a vintage version of the system you loved as a kid, or a new game. Look for games you can play together as a family, and then spend some time together playing them on Christmas Day. Because the best part of Christmas is the childlike wonder. That brings us to…

14. Choose Gifts That Mean Time Spent Together

In the same spirit of Christmas, when doing your Christmas shopping this year, look for gifts that allow you to spend time together on Christmas. Why not get that LEGO set your kids have been wanting and put it together on Christmas…together! Or a board game (see ideas below). Or a gift card to the movie theater (if they’ve reopened in your state.) Or a craft kit that you can do together. Any gift can be turned into a fun activity if you take the time to think ahead.

15. Play Board Games

Okay, board games are boring. Or at least they used to me. But not anymore. Rock this Christmas with some awesome ideas to add to your collection like What Do You Meme (Family Edition), Jumanji (you can actually play the game! In real life!), Telestrations, Dutch Blitz, or Apples to Apples.

16. Do A Secret Santa Exchange

My family started out doing a white elephant Secret Santa exchange (in addition to other gifts), but over the years this Secret Santa morphed into one of the main Christmas events involving pranks, treasure hunts, everyone trying to figure out who has who ahead of time, and lots of fun. You can do a white elephant exchange with funny gifts (only you know each other like you do) or real gifts, or one of each.

Anyone else feel like they’re in a Christmas movie right now? Good. Me too. Keep spirits bright this holiday season; January 1 is just around the corner.

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Becca Mahoney

Becca Mahoney

Hi there! I am a writer for Crown of Beauty Magazine; also published in Screenrant & Tirzah Magazine. I blog about food & writing at