19 Joyous Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Loved Ones This Year

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The holiday season is always a time of great excitement and anticipation, but perhaps never more so than in 2020, when the holiday season also heralds the end of the year. With social distancing measures and quarantine guidelines in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s fair to say that your holiday season may look a little bit different than in previous years. The good news is that it seems like the *perfect*time to start new traditions as you find creative ways to celebrate the holiday season, maintain traditions, and connect with your loved ones—even if you do so virtually!

Though Christmas caroling or an in-person gift exchange may be off of the table this year for some families, there are plenty of fun, festive, and exciting holiday traditions you can practice to ensure that Christmas cheer does, in fact, get spread this year. (We need it!) Consider switching up your normal holiday dinner by whipping together a delicious plant-based recipe, or try your hand at making a homemade Christmas wreath. Whether you’re looking to start new health goals or inject some socially distant fun into your holiday mix, we’ve rounded up a few ideas for you to crank up the joy this season.

1 Start a candle collection.

3 Do a holiday puzzle.

Exercise your mind by tackling a puzzle, and then turn that puzzle into a piece of art. While you can frame just about any puzzle with some glue and a nice frame (we like Framebridge and Artifact Rising), the team at Jiggy Puzzles designs puzzles that are meant to go in a frame and are custom-designed by artists. Plus, their puzzles come in a reusable glass jar.

5 Find some time to meditate.

As the year draws to a close (and what a year!), doing some reflection on the last several months and year to come can be a great way to close out the holiday season. Whether you’re using a meditation app like Headspace, or just taking some time to be still, take advantage of the holiday lull to turn inward.

6 Train for a race.

Why wait until January 1 to start moving towards your fitness goals? Consider beginning a training regimen for a race with your friends and family. Whether you’re walking or running, training will provide you with the opportunity to get outside and get your body moving each week. Plus, virtual races such as Prevention’s Virtual 5k Walk are becoming more popular than ever as a socially distant way to stay active.

7 Play cards.

If you’re in a part of the world where going outside during the holidays is not recommended, warm up in front of the fire and bring out a deck of cards. Whether you’re playing spades, rummy, or Texas Hold ’em, you’ll be able to pass hours with loved ones—virtually or in-person.

8 Do some redecorating.

The holidays are a great opportunity to get crafty, and that can mean more than just putting together some holiday cards. You may find the extra time off of work helpful for redecorating your home. Put together a modular couch from Allform, create a new custom statement end table from Inside Weather, or order a new coffee table from Burrow.

9 Have an at-home spa day.

To wind down from the year, bring the spa to your home by applying a few different kinds of face masks, because you deserve to feel pampered this holiday season. We love the options from Lapcos, Annie’s Way, and Nourish Mantra. Whether you’re looking to brighten, moisturize, or reduce wrinkles, laying down with a face mask under a weighted blanket may just be the best gift you can give yourself.

10 Start a virtual book club.

For the literary among us, the holidays can be a great time to catch up on some reading. To make it a more social event, turn your own favorite book into a topic of discussion by starting a virtual book club with your nearest and dearest. Not only will you be able to share your favorite authors with others, but you may find your own horizons expanded.

11 Try knitting.

As the weather gets colder, consider picking up a new hobby that’s perfect for keeping your fingers nimble and warm: knitting. You’d be surprised by how quickly you can learn to make a scarf, which can make for a great holiday gift for years to come.

12 Support local businesses.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been tough on the mom and pop shops around the country, and the holiday season is a great time to show your support. Whether it’s purchasing a few stocking stuffers, grabbing some takeout from the neighborhood diner, or picking up a bottle of wine from the nearby bar, find ways to support the businesses in your community.

13 Make a plant-based holiday recipe.

The holidays are meant to be indulgent, but that doesn’t mean they have to be exclusively unhealthy. Consider making a plant-based take on traditional holiday recipes with, say, plant-based eggs or meats. Impossible Foods has recently released a larger lineup of products in grocery stores across the U.S., where JUST is offering a wide range of egg products that can be incorporated into many different dishes.

14 Become your own bartender.

If you’re missing the tight, cramped quarters and unspeakably delicious cocktails of a speakeasy, during the months of December, you can recreate that experience at home—minus the tight, cramped nature. If you purchase a bottle of Santa Teresa 1796 rum during these months, you can take a virtual cocktail class and learn how to make a La Trova Old Fashioned, Hot Buttered Rum, or Ponche Crema (a drink similar to eggnog that is a Venezuelan holiday tradition).

15 Gift a cocktail-making kit.

A virtual white elephant gift exchange might be made all the merrier by the addition of some booze—and instructions on how best to make it. I love Spindrift’s recipe for Sparkling Sangria, which calls for red wine, oranges and apples, brandy, orange liquor, and cranberry raspberry spindrift. Add a couple candied cranberries for extra holiday cheer.

16 Make your own eggnog.

Let 2020 be the year that you finally stop buying eggnog from the store and instead make it at home. Be sure to use your favorite rums and surprise your guests by gifting them a bottle to take home for themselves.

17 Organize a cider tasting at home.

If you’re looking for a different holiday beverage for this holiday season, check out some of the unique cider purveyors that are offering a wide range of fruit-forward brews. ANXO recently released the latest version of their Happy Trees cider, a limited cider that is made with over five types of heirloom apples, whereas LA-based 101 Cider House offers locally sourced ciders that blend apples with other healthy ingredients like carrots, blood orange, and ginger.

18 Bake treats for your loved ones.

Baking is no doubt a key part of any holiday tradition, and this year, we could likely benefit from some added generosity. If you’re short on time, King Arthur Baking has some delicious mixes that will save you precious minutes and still grant you homemade credit. We love their Gingerbread mix and Yuletide Cheer Muffin and Quickbread mix. For the gluten-free folks in your life, bake and share some fudgy brownies using King Arthur’s pre-portioned ingredients.

19 Do a chocolate tasting.

Lulu Chang Writer Lulu Chang is a displaced Texan currently braving the cold (and sometimes the heat) in New York City.

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