With many people remaining home for the holidays, we need to be creative and do things a little differently to ensure traditions and connections are supported as safely as possible.
Here are a few ideas that people may want to explore:
- Gather addresses of friends/neighbors/family and then buy/send Christmas cards. It would be great to use one of the several sites (like Shutterfly: www.shutterfly.com) that let people create their own customized cards and get them printed. If you do that, I recommend that the picture portray the individual in a very positive way as a connected, valued member of the larger community. Personalization details on cards, that include a photo or artwork can share someone’s gifts, talents, and help to build rapport. Sending cards along with contact information to neighbors is a friendly way to invite further connection. This is a very common theme to engage in during the holiday season, but push yourself to reach out to the neighbors who wouldn’t typically be on your holiday card list; a deliberate step to expand your contacts and connections. If sent early enough, a reply may be prompted by the receiver of the card. If so, keep up the correspondence!
- Help folks set up Zoom (or other platforms) times during the Holidays to visit.
- Plan a Cocoa and Christmas themed movie night and set a watch party to do with friends and family; for those that like musicals, check out Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square movie on Netflix.
- Plan a holiday themed virtual paint night activity with friends and family.
- Bake cookies or holiday breads (here’s a recipe for Friendship Bread: Friendship Bread Recipe – Food.com) and share them with the neighbors.
- Plan a cookie swap/exchange with friends/neighbors/family.
- Neighborhood/Friend/Family decorating contests.
- Organize wreath making online meet ups.
- Check out opportunities to volunteer this holiday season. There are a lot of virtual volunteer opportunities on volunteermatch.org. You could plan to do this together, even distanced with friends and family.
- Organize a neighborhood activity to share favorite Holiday recipes. In some neighborhoods/families this could be a good way of trying foods from different cultures, a small step toward better understanding each other.
- I recently heard a nice Thanksgiving story that could be replicated during our upcoming Holidays. An extended family that lived fairly near each other in 4 different households was unable to gather together for Thanksgiving due to Covid concerns. So, ahead of time, they divided up cooking duties and one household made 4 apple pies, another 4 quarts of cranberry sauce, etc. Then they drove to each home and safely exchanged the food items and returned to their own homes for the feast. Later on Thanksgiving Day they all connected via Zoom and raved about the foods they had received from each other. A taste of home in 4 different homes.
- Note that as a Pathways to Friendship partner that the Holiday season (and the prolonged pandemic-related restrictions) suggest some items that may be fair game for applications for our Florence Finkel funds, such as:
- Equipment/apps for communication to enhance remote connections with others and to experiences some new opportunities.
- Expenses related to cards/postage that would connect people, so long as the intent is to continue/expand contact beyond the Holidays.
- Tools (rakes/shovels/etc.) that would be used for community-building activities (not just to shovel their own driveway).