Every holiday season I say to myself, “We’re just going to keep it simple this year.” But somehow, in the run up to Christmas, life always ends up getting really busy and we have too many events scheduled. I get stressed out by all the things that need to get done in time for Christmas Day, and we’re always buying and wrapping a few gifts at the very last minute. So this year, in the year of Covid, when we’re being asked to limit our social interactions, we’re actually going to do it; we’re going to have a simple, quiet Christmas and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Having a simple Christmas doesn’t mean a Christmas with less joy or fun or magic, it just means putting focus on the things that you consider to be the most important aspects of the season. Who knows, maybe we’ll enjoy doing less and decide to make it an annual tradition.
Right now, where I live in Ireland, we’re in lockdown and we’re not allowed to have anyone come into our home nor are we allowed to go into anyone else’s home. That will hopefully change in time for Christmas Day so we can see some family members, but we don’t know for sure yet. My husband and the kids and I decided to create a Christmas bucket list that includes things that we all really want to do together this holiday season. Hopefully, by focusing on the fun, we won’t even notice that our list avoids gatherings like parties, tree lighting ceremonies, parades, Santa visits, travel, and any outings where there might be a crowd.
Here’s our Covid Christmas Bucket List
-Make Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies [insert your favorite Christmas cookie]
-Watch holiday movies: Elf, Home Alone, The Christmas Pact, Christmas Vacation, Last Holiday, Love Actually, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, While you Were Sleeping
-Decorate the Christmas tree while Christmas music plays in the background
-Hike a new trail
-Make a Christmas Countdown Chain
-Take a family photo in our Christmas sweaters
-Put out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve
-Put up outdoor Christmas lights
-Take a drive to enjoy outdoor Christmas light displays
-Mail a letter to Santa
-Make candied walnuts for Christmas gifts
-Collect litter in our neighborhood
-Write and decorate Christmas cards
-Mail Christmas cards
-Make a Christmas tree ornament
–Make mulled wine (adults only!)
-Make paper snowflakes to decorate the windows
-Donate toys/money to charity
-Read Christmas books
-Donate outgrown/unused jackets, hats and mittens
-Wrap presents as a family
-Do a random act of kindness – get creative! Pay for someone’s coffee, put coins in someone’s parking meter, bake cookies for your neighbor, let someone go ahead of you in line
-Read bedtime stories by the Christmas tree
-Schedule a time to video chat with out-of-town relatives and friends
-If we had snow where I live, I would add: go sledding [insert your favorite snow activity]
I really think that if we have a long list of ideas like this, it will keep us from feeling like anything is different about this year. I’m not even sure if we’ll get through all of these items and there is absolutely no pressure to. It’s just nice to have the ideas there for any time that we may be looking for an activity to do.
Simplicity Under the Tree
One other way we’re keeping it simple is when it comes to buying gifts for our kids. I think we all desire to make this Christmas extra special for our kids after they have missed out on so much normalcy this year, but I encourage you to not go overboard when it comes to the material goods. Typically we’re all about experience gifts, but that’s probably not going to be easy this year!
We will gift the kids toys, but just one from mom and dad and one from Santa and they’ll be open-ended toys that can be played with a variety of ways for many years to come. We’re aiming to encourage as much independent play as possible over the cold winter months and for us, a small number of open-ended toys is the way to do that. Just a note my parents and my in-laws do buy the kids gifts as well and they like my input on what to purchase so I suggested two games and a variety of books and art supplies that will also get a lot of use this winter.
Change of Mindset
It’s not going to be the “perfect Christmas” but, honestly, none of them ever are. There’s always still stress about all the things that needs to get done from gift buying and wrapping, to meal planning and making sure everyone has a Christmas outfit that fits.
There are always squabbles over who gets to put which ornaments on the tree or kids who don’t want to go on that fun family hike in the cold crisp air and instead complain every step of the way. Kids are definitely going to ask 1500 times a day how many more days until Santa comes, and there will be too much sugar and probably a few meltdowns, but maybe, if we go into the season with the mindset that it won’t be perfect, it will feel a little more simple. A little quieter, maybe, but hopefully it will also be magical and special and wonderful in its own way.
What’s on your Covid Christmas bucket list?