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Alone Together: Ways to Stay Connected this Christmas

One thing is certain, this will be a Christmas like no other. On top of the usual roller coaster of emotion that is the holiday season, we’ve got big decisions to make, like is it safe to see friends and family; can we travel? How will we spend the holidays alone? Or, will we survive another day in a house full of overly excited children? Whatever your situation, we can guarantee you’re not alone. We’re all doing the best that we can and that’s enough. Just being alive at this moment is a victory. In an effort to celebrate what truly matters, we’ve put together some ideas to spark joy and spread cheer, for you and the world you so beautifully inhabit. “Have yourself a Merry Christmas, let your heart be light…”  

Light a Candle 

A little light goes a long way as we approach the winter solstice and the darkest days of the year. Join Thistle Farms in their 20 year-long vigils to light a pathway of healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. Light your home this Christmas with their beautiful soy wax candles infused with 100% essential oils. They make lovely gifts and all proceeds go to providing women a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support.  

Take a Hike 

Getting outside, even in winter weather with the right gear, is good for the body, mind, and spirit. To change it up, try a new park or winter recreation spot. Maybe this is the year to put those snowshoes to work. Customize your outdoor experience at findyourpark.com — life is an adventure! 

Build a Fire

If your outdoor living space allows for a toasty little fire, pick up some logs from your local hardware shop or the farmer down the street, and warm your holiday heart. Mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows highly recommended. No fire pit? Try a portable one, for small outdoor spaces. If you don’t have a safe spot for an outdoor fire, make s’mores inside with this tabletop fireplace

Photo: Brooke Lark

Send Holiday Greetings 

Traditionally handwritten, there are so many options for holiday greetings these days, from e-cards to video greetings. Too late to drop cards in the mail? Or have handwriting that requires some deciphering? Grab your smartphone and make a video — no fancy production required — only personality and good cheer. Sing your favorite Christmas song, read a poem that’s meaningful to you, share memories from past holidays. Email or text the video to your friends and family with a little note. It’s sure to be appreciated. 

Need a little more direction? Leave it to JibJab to get the laughs. It’s like the very best of personal inside jokes in video greeting card form.  

Take Lots of Pictures 

And then do something more with your magnetic personality than just posting selfies on Instagram. Make a personalized magnet holiday card to remind your friends and family you’re always there (on the fridge at least). 

Photo: Kari Shea

Do a Christmas Cookie Bake Off 

Send a treasured family recipe around to a small group of friends and family with an invitation (and Zoom link) to bake together at a certain time — you can even have groceries delivered with the exact ingredients for a special touch. Create a holiday playlist to stream in the background and then once the first batch is out of the oven, sit down to “share” cookies and conversation. 

Propose a Christmas Toast 

Send a bottle of your favorite Champagne to family and friends you’d normally celebrate with on Christmas, along with an invitation to join you for a virtual holiday toast at a certain time and date. Send around a Zoom link and hop on for a quick greeting, in pajamas, full holiday regalia, whatever your desire. Considering the chaos of holiday schedules even at home, a toast will be more than welcome. 

Host a Virtual Gingerbread House Contest 

Get creative, get competitive — consider this the Iron Chef of Gingerbread House Building, or perhaps The Great British Baking Show. Set a date far enough in the future for participants to gather supplies and then meet up on Zoom for a scheduled build — everything on camera, no secrets, just the clock counting down to the final move. Take it even further and post pictures on social media for friends and family to vote on the winner. 

Do a Dramatic Reading 

Get your family together on Zoom and choose your favorite Christmas story. Give each family member a character or page to read and take turns delivering your parts. Costumes are encouraged, and don’t forget to hit “record.” This just might become a prized family keepsake. Bonus points to do this for a local nursing home or hospital.

Downloadable Kindness Table Kit. Photo: doinggoodtogether.com 

Create Cheer 

This is the time of year that elementary schools, church groups, and community choirs visit nursing homes and hospitals singing holiday carols to brighten the hearts and minds of those who can’t spend Christmas at home. Though visits are off this year, we can still send love and light where it is most needed. Doinggoodtogether.org offers creative ways to connect this Christmas like becoming a Senior Angel, adopting a grandparent, writing letters to soldiers, checking in on neighbors, along with fun Kindness Table Kits for kids and crafty adults too. 

Make It Movie Night  

Just because we’re not making the annual pilgrimage to our local movie theater Christmas Day for the latest Star Wars or Marvel masterpiece, doesn’t mean we can’t watch something fun “together” in spirit. And this year, streaming platforms are making it even easier to host watch parties with friends and family near and far. Just cue up your favorite holiday flick — get your buttered popcorn and thin mints and call it a date. Make it extra fun by sending around holiday movie snack packs ahead of time, and host a “best all-time holiday movie” poll to make the selection. Home Alone? Elf? It’s A Wonderful Life? You decide. 

Photo: Anne Spratt

Tell a Bedtime Story

One thing we can guarantee right now is that many a grandkid misses their grandparents reading to them before bed. Here’s a way to fix that. Pick up a press and play book, record yourself reading as if you were right there at their bedside and send it over wrapped up in Christmas cheer. We love Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep from Hallmark. 

While you’re at it, consider the kids who don’t have someone to read to them and may not have access to books outside of school. Fifty-one percent of students across the nation’s public schools are low income, and according to FirstBook.org, many are living in “book deserts” —with one community having only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children. Give the gift of reading this holiday season with #giveamillion, every $1 = 1 book. 

Spread Some Unconditional Joy 

Take some of those delicious cookies you baked and leave them on your neighbor’s porch, wrapped up in a bow. Consider swapping the next package you receive from those tireless touchless delivery drivers for a Starbucks card to show your appreciation. Donate dinner to a local food bank, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. So many of us are in need this holiday season and so many of us are alone, so let’s take a deep breath and look around to see who we can help. It can be as simple as a friendly greeting even from across the street. 

There’s always someone there when we need them. Keep this National Helpline Database nearby if you or anyone you know needs help this holiday season. Don’t be afraid to reach out. We’re in this together. 

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