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19 Activities for the Holidays During COVID-19

It may seem like there’s not a lot to do this holiday season because of all of the restrictions in place, but I think that there’s still a whole bunch of things that you can do to get into the spirit of Christmas! 

Here are 19 activities that’ll make you feel the holiday cheer:

Decorate the space you are living in with the people you live with

One of the first things that my mom and I like to do whenever the holiday season comes around is decorate. I think decorating will help you and the people you live with feel the “vibes” that come around with Christmas and other holidays because you will see reminders every day. Also, because we are spending almost all of our time at home, it doesn’t hurt to have a  reminder of the joy the holiday season brings!

Buy and wear matching holiday pajamas with family or roommates

This activity has gotten a lot more popular over the past couple of years, and for good reason! Buying matching PJ’s is a fun activity you can do with your friends and family, either online or in-person. And because of how popular this trend has become, there are a whole bunch of designs you can choose from!

Listen to or sing holiday music

Listening to and singing Christmas songs is a classic holiday activity. There’s not much to this one at all; all you have to do is go to whatever music streaming service you use — or even go old school and use the radio — and find a station or playlist that will play all of the holiday classics. Some great places to find already curated playlists would be YouTube and Spotify. Another thing you could do is create your own holiday playlist!

Decorate gingerbread houses over Zoom

Just like there is an abundance of Christmas pajamas, there are even more gingerbread house kits on the market. In the past, I’ve made a small “gingerbread village” solely out of chocolate, a gingerbread train, and the conventional gingerbread house everyone knows and loves. One quick search on Amazon will get you a variety of gingerbread options. And if you like to bake, you could make your own gingerbread house shapes and then proceed to create a fantastic house — or whatever you choose to build!

Watch holiday movies and TV shows

There are so many Christmas movies and shows out there that you can find at the very least one film or series to watch. Netflix seems to be releasing a lot of movies this month, in addition to their already immense library of holiday movies. But don’t worry if you don’t have Netflix — Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime have a wide selection of holiday movies as well!

Make Christmas face masks

Similar to how people decorate Christmas sweaters or make ornaments, you and your friends can make face masks that are Christmas themed! All you would need to get are some white (or solid colored) face masks, and then take whatever art supplies you have and create an excellent — Christmas — face mask!

Shop for gifts online to send to friends and family

One of the most stressful parts about Christmas is buying presents for your loved ones — there’s a lot to choose from, and you don’t always know what to get. But this year, you can plan on doing all of the shopping online instead of in-person. This gives you the comfort of your home, and you won’t have to wait in line or drive to five different stores looking for one specific item. All you have to do is open up your device and search for whatever is on your mind. A plus is that you can have the items shipped directly to your friends and family to socially distance and stay safe!

Decorate or bake Christmas cookies

Similar to the gingerbread house, you get to decorate cookies and have a great time! However, the best part about this is that you can actually eat the cookies after you decorate them! You can decorate over FaceTime or Zoom with friends, or you could even have a baking and decorating contest with the people you live with — the possibilities are endless!

Go to socially-distanced outdoor events

If you are tired of staying at home all day, you can attend socially-distanced outdoor events that your neighborhood or city hosts. All you have to do is look up online outdoor events, and you’ll find a bunch! It may be a tree lighting ceremony or a holiday parade! Just make sure that you are following CDC guidelines and the guidelines of the event when you go out.

Drive around and look at Christmas lights

Another out-of-the-house activity is driving around to look at Christmas lights. I know that my family has been doing this for more than a decade, and we’ve always had a blast doing so. Many households, stores, or cities put a lot of effort into creating an amazing display of lights for the holidays, and some even have their lights synchronized to music! You can most likely just drive around your neighborhood and find a lot of cool setups!

Put up Christmas lights

If you want people to enjoy your lights and decorations when they go drive around to look at lights, then you should put some up outside of your home. You don’t just have to decorate your home’s inside, you can do the outside, and then more people can enjoy and share your Christmas spirit!

Make hot chocolate bombs and drink hot chocolate

One of the newest trends I have seen come up is people making hot chocolate bombs. There are many different recipes that you can follow on Pinterest or even YouTube; all you need is some chocolate chips, marshmallows, and hot chocolate. It’s a lot of fun to make and a lot more fun to watch it open. Afterward, you can enjoy a tasty cup of hot chocolate!

Make Christmas ornaments or decorations at home

If you have some time on your hands and like to craft, you can try making your own ornaments and Christmas decorations. Like the hot chocolate bombs, there are many different ideas on what you can create on YouTube and Pinterest. You can do this with your friends, family, or roommates and listen to holiday music or watch holiday movies.

Have a game night

There are many Christmas games out there that you can play with the people you live with to pass the time. If you prefer to play non-Christmas games, there is also a lot to choose from between board games, card games, Pictionary, Hangman, and more. You can make a day (or night) out of this and maybe even make the hot chocolate bombs or cookies for this game night.

Build a snowman or have a snowball fight

If you are in an area that gets snow during the winter, go outside and have fun! You can have a snowball fight, build a snowman, or even just make snow angels. It’s a simple activity, but it's sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Write a letter to Santa

Sure it may be a decade or so too late, but writing a letter never hurts anyone! You can do this with a younger family member or just with your friends. It’s an easy way to have fun!

Buy yourself some Christmas gifts

No one said you shouldn’t buy yourself any Christmas gifts. Similar to buying things for the people you love, get yourself something nice — or maybe even a bunch of nice things. It’s been a rough year, so treat yourself!

Go to a Christmas tree farm

A lot more people are going to actual tree farms this year to get a tree instead of getting a plastic one. I think it’s because they want to do more Christmas-y things outside of their home. And like them, you should go out and check out a Christmas tree farm; you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to, but it’ll definitely be a fun outdoor activity!

Secret Santa

I know many friend groups do “Secret Santa” during the holiday season, and I’ve been doing it with my friends for the past couple of years. Just because we have to socially distance ourselves does not mean you and your friends cannot still hold a “Secret Santa.” All you need to do is find an online Secret Santa name generator and continue on as you would have in previous years! You could either leave the presents at their doorstep, or you could have the gifts shipped directly to them!

These were just a few things you can do with your friends or family during these trying times to get into the holiday spirit! There’s a lot more you can do, but just make sure you are staying safe and enjoying yourself!

Happy holidays!

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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