Christmas Amidst Covid Restrictions: Ideas for Making the Holidays Magical

Our family truly LOVES Christmas. We love everything about it: the music, the meals/desserts, the crafts, the decorations, the community events and activities, the time with family, the movies … it is without a doubt our favourite holiday of the year. With all of the current COVID restrictions here in B.C. (and all over the country/world), this Christmas is going to be a bit different than what we are used to. Many of our traditions, such as parades and family gatherings, are not allowed. The past nine months have been very tough (for both adults and children), therefore I am determined to do everything I can to make the holidays magical for my young children.

Here are some of the festive things that we are doing this Christmas to make the holidays magical:

Christmas sugar cookies: The is one Christmas tradition that we can easily continue this year! A few days ago the girls and I made a batch of sugar cookies using a new recipe that I found: Gluten Free Cutout Sugar Cookies by gluten free on a shoestring. This is definitely the best gluten free sugar cookie recipe I’ve come across. The dough was easy to work with (and didn’t even require refrigeration time!), and the kids loved the cookies. We made icing in a bunch of different colours, and had a blast decorating them together.

Christmas lights and decorated houses: Just this past weekend we went for our annual Christmas driving tour. This is one of our favourite activities – hopping in the car and driving around town to explore the best lights and decorations! This year we used the 7th Annual Victoria Buzz Christmas Lights Tour Map. You can open it up in Google Maps, and get directions to each of the houses. We had an amazing evening and even came across two houses that have their Christmas decorations and lights set up in sync with Christmas music (you just tune into the correct station in your car! Amazing!)

Christmas decorations: I have to admit, we put up our decorations almost a month ago. We typically decorate on December 1st (or perhaps a bit earlier, depending on how the weekend lands each year). This year we felt that we needed a little extra Christmas cheer, so we decorated near the third week of November! We put up our tree one day, decorated it another day, put out the Christmas village, the mini tree in the girls’ room … little by little we transformed our house. The girls and I spent one morning decorating the windows with white snowy decals that I found this year. A few days ago we went all out, and made old fashioned paper chain decorations for Barbie and her friends! Apparently decorating early for Christmas makes people happier – it seemed to work for us!

Christmas countdown calendar: As we came to the end of November, our eldest asked me almost every day “How many sleeps until Elfie arrives? How many sleeps until Christmas?” So we decided we needed a countdown calendar! We used a piece of poster board and made our own calendar. She had fun writing in the important dates: Elfie, Christmas, Christmas Eve, online Santa visit, etc. Every night before bed she crosses a day off, and counts the sleeps left until Christmas.

Virtual escape room: We just did this online activity last weekend: Father Christmas Escape Room, created by the Royal BC Museum. It was a huge hit with the whole family, and I highly recommend it! Father Christmas is missing in the museum and needs your help to return to the North Pole. Find Father Christmas by following a series of clues and making your way through the museum. This was so much fun that we wanted to try more of these virtual escape rooms! We tried this Pete the Cat Birthday Mystery and later discovered this list of Online Family Escape Rooms that we plan to try soon! But so far the Father Christmas Escape Room is definitely our favourite.

Elf on the Shelf: We have had Elfie visit our house every December since our eldest daughter was a baby. I know that not everyone loves Elf, but for us she brings so much joy and excitement to our house. And this year especially, we will take all the joy and magic that we can get! Check out some of my other posts for more about our Elf: Elfie 2020: Her first week back and Elfie’s Return: Bringing Joy to the family (and maybe just a few tears!).

Family photo shoot: We thought it would be fun to stage our own photo shoot this year. I had ordered the girls new dresses for Christmas, so we got all dressed up, and set up the camera with the self timer. We took some family shots in front of the Christmas tree, trying out different groupings and poses. It was a lot of fun, and we captured some beautiful photos!

A different kind of Santa photo: I was very excited to have booked a Santa visit this year at Uptown. When the recent COVID restrictions were announced, our booking was cancelled. I have to admit, I was bummed. Then I saw an ad for a different kind of Santa photo, Virtual Santa Photos by Nicole Israel Photography. This is such an awesome idea, and it’s only $10! We used our family picture from our recent home photo shoot, and I love the result!!

Zoom visit with Santa: Seeing as our Uptown visit with Santa was cancelled, I was on the hunt for an alternative. I discovered that Westshore Town Centre is offering Virtual Visits with Santa! Each visit is 5 minutes long, free, and held online using Zoom. Our meeting is next week, and the girls are looking forward to it!

Christmas movies: One of my favourite things about this time of year is the Christmas movies. Sure they are often pretty corny and formulaic … but that’s half the fun! We’ve already watched a few Christmas movies as a family this year: The Christmas Chronicles is a big favourite with the girls, and we enjoyed Jingle Jangle, Klaus, and Arthur Christmas. I love the reviews on Common Sense Media and their Best of Christmas Movies is a great place to start if you’re looking for new shows to watch as a family.

Christmas stories by the tree: This next one is my eldest daughter’s idea! She suggested the other night that we read our bedtime stories by the Christmas tree. What a wonderful idea!!

Christmas crafts: I love to do crafts, and Christmas crafts are no exception. Here are some of the projects I’m planning to do with the girls this month: How to make gluten free salt dough ornaments by This Mess is Ours, Tissue paper Christmas tree suncatcher craft by Kids Craft Room, and Snowy Winter Town by Krokotak.

Gingerbread houses: This is another of our favourite family traditions. We purchased a gluten free Gingerbread House Kit from Origins Bakery in Victoria, and some gluten free candies from Save On. Origins also had a bag of mini gingerbread angels which we decorated as well. The girls had so much fun eating (and decorating!) the gingerbread house. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Do you have any other Christmas activities you’re doing this year? I would love to hear about them in the comments. Christmas might look a little bit different this year, but it’s still going to be magical and wonderful!

Please share your thoughts!

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