stay home for holidays
Right when it feels like Christmas has been cancelled and Hanukkah festivities somewhat halted, we’re hankering for some festive holiday ideas to keep us feeling cheerful. If not for our families, for ourselves, so we don’t feel like hiding under the duvet until 2020 is done.

So what to do when many of your Christmas traditions have been sacked? We polled a few parental friends, and the most popular suggestion (with variations) is to send the family outside, lock the door, sabre a bottle of wine, and watch Kurt Russell as the best movie Santa ever in Christmas Chronicles. But this may not be the most practical or family-warming move to make.

We have alternatives. Here are eight festive ideas for you to enjoy the holiday season with family while in quarantine mode.

1 / Cruise the Lights

vancouver holiday lights
Source: PNE WinterLights

Hop in the car to tour creative light displays that you don’t have the energy to orchestrate (well, not this year!) at home. Despite the usual big event draws being cancelled, there’s still a few options running:

  • PNE WinterLights (drive through) – select days Dec 12-30, purchase in advance
  • Granville Island Festive Lights – until Jan. 3
  • Grouse Mountain Light Walk – included with admission to the mountain
  • Glow Gardens at Milner Village, Langley (drive through) – until Jan 2, purchase in advance
  • Christmas at Williams Park, Langley – end date TBC


2 / Engage in Plays Online

East Van Panto
Source: The Cultch – East Van Panto

We usually love to hit the theatre and concert hall at this time of year for seasonal favourites like The Nutcracker, East Van Panto, and Christmas with Chor Leoni. Sadly, arts venues are shuttered and suffering financially. One of our feel-good moves will be to support a local arts organization by either subscribing to an online program or donating on behalf of a family member who would normally be enjoying it in person.

Consult the web to see what’s being offered by your favourite arts org right now. In Vancouver, The Cultch’s East Van Panto offers a good dose of silly storytelling. Not holiday-themed, but created for all ages. Here are their viewing options, including a Panto Virtual Holiday Party (not a gathering) Package!

Carousel Theatre is creatively offering interactive ‘audio plays’ during COVID. Nom Nom Gnomes is billed as an  intergenerational experience involving cooking and singing. Two more are scheduled for the new year—could be a great experience gift idea!


3 / Go Snowshoeing

snowshoeing in North Vancouver
Source: Mount Seymour

If you’ve been meaning to get some exercise, this will get the heart pumping in a fun safe non-group-class fitness way, and a snowy forest is a pretty magical place to be in the winter.

The North Shore has plenty of beginner trails at all three mountains, along with snowshoe rentals. (Yes, we’re allowed to go to local mountains for snow fitness activities). Check the forecast before you go, dress warmly, and pack a thermos of hot chocolate with holiday cookies on the side. Read up on Seymour, Cypress, and Grouse Mountain snowshoeing. Both Cypress and Grouse offer evening options with glittering lights.


4 / Decorate Holiday Goodies

quarantine cookie decorating
Source: Inspired Home

Get Grandma’s signature sugar cookie recipe or search up something new to make, and go full-tilt decorating mode—the best part! This is a great family activity to do at home or with a couple of relatives on FaceTime: bake, decorate, compare, and taste together. You can even buy pre-made plain cookies, icing, and sprinkles, to make it a low-stress activity.

Competitive types might find a gingerbread house decorating contest to be more thrilling. Each household buys (advanced: bakes) their own kit and boatload of colourful candies in preparation. Maybe a little Pinterest research if you really want that win.


5 / Play Virtual Holiday Games

online games for families
Source: Experian

Bring the clan together by playing a favourite family game virtually AND twisting it into a holiday theme. While we haven’t tried it yet, we’re hearing Pictionary is ton of fun virtually, along with Bananagrams (here’s an online version). Consult this list of games to play on Zoom—there’s something for most ages.

If you have an older kid in house, you might score points by suggesting a popular online group game like UNO, Exploding Kittens, Words With Friends 2, Among Us, or Many allow private groups to be formed for play. Just ask your kid.


6 / Stick to Holiday Traditions

christmas tree decorating
Source: Jonathan Borba, Unsplash

Don’t let a little stay-at-home order stop all of your traditions! Grandpa can still read a favourite holiday tale via video chat, buddies can still craft together (cutting paper snowflakes is easy for kids, not so messy for you), and families can still go carolling together—all virtually.

Connect with your friend online by doing a wreath-making or cooking class. The silver lining: you can be in your PJs with your favourite cocktail by your side.


7/ Eat Together

virtual holiday party invitation
Source: Paperless Post

Holiday parties and dinners may not be happening this year, but we can share a delicious meal together in a unique way. Send out evites, order dinners in advance, and don your gay apparel (e.g. glitter, ugly Christmas sweaters, formalwear, etc.) for partytime online.

We discovered Big Feast’s boxed meal party packages as one option. You can also buy pre-made meal kits at various restaurants in the Lower Mainland. Check out your favourite local restaurants and grocery delivery services for options to best suit your online gathering.


BONUS: How to Fill Airtime

virtual family visit
Source: Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Almost 10 months into this pandemic and you’ve probably noticed that virtual video calls can get awkward occasionally. Sometimes no one knows what to say next—because staying at home doesn’t provide much to share in the ‘recent news’ department.

Be prepared to fill in any empty airtime with some backup fun: Print up a page of riddles for the kids to quiz the relatives on, fill in the blanks of a holiday-themed MadLibs sheet, choreograph a dance Tik Tok-style, or duck down & put on a silly holiday-themed hat for some lightness and laughter.

We hope that you have a holly, jolly holiday with these quarantine ideas. See you next year in person!


Feature image credit: United Nations COVID-19 Response via Unsplash