Pandemic Holidays: Embracing new traditions - MetroFamily Magazine
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Pandemic Holidays: Embracing new traditions

by Erin Page

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a bit of a bah humbug attitude about the holidays as the realization continues to hit that the many ways we’ve celebrated in the past won’t be realities this year. Sometimes I get so focused on what we CAN’T do that I forget to look for the fun and freedom in figuring out what we CAN do. I love creating new traditions with my family, and there’s no reason this year has to be any different.

As my mom and I were bemoaning how to host our extended family Christmas party virtually — and wondering whether anyone would participate and if we’d even have any fun — my superstar cousin swooped in, amidst her full weekend of planning virtual lessons for her class of students at her Edmond elementary school. While mom and I had been imagining (yet another) Zoom happy hour, Courtney and her techie son created a Jeopardy-like game show to take our usual Dirty Santa game to the virtual party. There will be two games, one for the adults and one for the kids, to fight … I mean play (we’re not competitive at all) … for coveted e-cards.

Another favorite family tradition with my immediate family is a gingerbread house contest (the competitive genes run deep, y’all). In year’s past, we’ve concocted football stadiums, food trucks, RVs, hunting lodges … and some traditional houses, too. Sometimes we let the dogs judge, and winners (who might also be called cheaters) have been known to incorporate dog treats into their design. Perhaps we’ll have a contest via Zoom or FaceTime, or perhaps we’ll simply continue our already-begun trash-talking texts and photo sharing of ridiculous designs. Either way, the laughter and camaraderie will continue.

I know the holidays won’t be the same, but my family has reminded me to look for the positives, work together to create new traditions and focus on gratitude for what we CAN do this year. Our team at MetroFamily compiled ideas for unique ways families can celebrate, even if we can’t be together in person:

  • Play games virtually. Email Bingo cards to participants, get on Zoom and play several rounds together. Or use an app like HouseParty with built-in games.
  • Have grandma teach a favorite family recipe. Whether through Zoom or FaceTime, connect kids with grandparents as they cook together through the screen. This would also be a fun way to connect grandparents and grandkids as they bake or decorate cookies.
  • Read holiday stories together. This can be accomplished over the phone, through video chat or by a prerecorded video sent for kids to enjoy at bedtime.
  • Drop off Secret Santa gifts. Whether for family members, friends or neighbors who live nearby, put together a care package to leave on their front porch. For family that lives farther away, mail a special care package ahead of the holidays.
  • Carol together. Sing your favorite holiday songs via Zoom or FaceTime, or if it can be arranged outdoors with plenty of distancing and masks, get together socially-distant style to sing together.
  • Host an online Dirty Santa game like my family will be doing, with e-cards as the prizes. They can be collected by a single participant and emailed out based on who wins what.
  • Don your most festive attire or ugly sweaters for a happy hour Zoom party. Kick it up a notch by voting on the best-dressed participant and send a prize to the winner.
  • Have kids open gifts via Zoom or FaceTime. Whether you’re receiving kid gifts in the mail or dropped off, set up a time to Zoom or FaceTime with the givers so they can see your kids’ reactions when they open their presents.

How are you adjusting your family’s holiday traditions this year to keep your family and loved ones safe? We want to hear from you! Send your ideas to

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