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“Santa Claus is (still) coming to town…”: 5 COVID Christmas traditions to start and keep

A few months ago, we were all hoping that by the end of the year, the coronavirus ordeal would be history. Instead, with COVID-19 on the rise again, many European countries tighten their restrictions right in time for the holidays. For example, in the Netherlands, families are allowed to have no more than three visitors on Christmas Eve. Switzerland generously allows up to five people from two different households, while in many parts of the UK, where a new virus strain has been detected, households aren’t allowed to mix at all. But no epidemic can cancel the Christmas spirit, and families across the world will still “deck the halls” and try to have themselves “a merry little Christmas”.

And although many old traditions, like visiting grandparents or carolling with neighbours, will be compromised, this year’s celebration doesn’t have to be a complete bummer. Perhaps, it makes sense to throw the old version of Christmas to the wall and reinvent it as a new holiday to truly rejoice in! How about starting some cool traditions that you might want to hold on to even after 2020?

“There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and carolling out in the snow.”

By Kate Laine via Unsplash

If you can’t sit around the table with all your loved ones, it doesn’t mean you can’t share a Christmas meal! Organising a potluck dinner is so easy these days. Think who you’d invite over for Christmas dinner, had you had a chance, and agree with them to exchange home-made food with the help of a delivery service to take care of taking your care packages to your loved ones. Or, if cooking is not your forte, you and your “invitees” share a food delivery from your favourite restaurant. This way, you can all have the same meal, while enjoying each other’s company over zoom, and, quite importantly, support a local business at the same time!

“What a bright time, it’s the right time, to rock the night away.”

saudi arabian couple celebrates christmas
A woman dances with her Muslim husband at their home during Christmas season, in Riyadh, as Saudi Arabia eases restrictions on Christmas celebration./REUTERS by Ahmed Yosri

How about putting together a family talent show? Every family member can contribute: there’s bound to be someone among your relatives who plays the piano (or bagpipes?), is an aspiring stand-up comedian, is bold enough to put on their dancing shoes, or recite a poem, or do a magic trick, or sing their favourite Christmas songs, right? Pre-record your acts (this will take the stage-fright element out of the equation) and get a digitally-gifted family member to assemble a video that could be uploaded for all your loved ones to watch together, yet apart, on Christmas Eve.

“Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, won’t be the same dear if you’re not here with me.”

covid christmas tree
A Christmas tree is decorated with face masks to create awareness about wearing a mask ahead of Christmas celebrations, in Mumbai, India. / REUTERS by Niharika Kulkarni

Crazy COVID-themed ornaments will tell the story of the 2020 apocalypse better than anything else and will become conversation pieces conjuring memories and stories for years to come. Enterprising ornament manufacturers have already embraced the theme: blown-glass toilet paper rolls, mask-clad Santas and spikey virus globes are great, but making them together with kids could be even more fun. How about creating ornaments by decorating pocket-size bottles of hand sanitiser with glitter glue? Or “protecting” your elf on the shelf with a tiny mask? Or making a coronavirus piñata (as per the suggestion of The New York Times ) and then smashing it without remorse?

“If there is love in your heart and your mind, you will feel like Christmas all the time.”

covid christmas at retirement home
Residents watch through the window as medical workers perform during a Christmas party at Le Gatinais Korian retirement home in Maisse near Paris France. /REUTERS by Gonzalo Fuentes

Christmas spirit is all about being thankful for what we’ve got and helping those in need. Exchanging gifts across households could be problematic this year, and buying presents for every random auntie and cousin is a bit of a drag anyway, so wouldn’t it be awesome to make a family contribution to a charity of choice instead? Or, perhaps, send some heart-warming gifts to the residents of a senior care facility near you? We all know that the pandemic robbed them of regular visits of their relatives and friends, so anything that could cheer them up would be appreciated. This tradition is one worth keeping, don’t you think?

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

santa claus climbing mountain
A member of Siberian search and rescue group dressed as Santa Claus, waits for his team mate, dressed as Father Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus, as he climbs the rock named "The Fourth Stolb" (the Fourth Pillar) at the Stolby National Nature Reserve outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. /REUTERS by Ilya Naymushin

If going away for Christmas has always been your idea or a perfect holiday, despair not. You may not be able to hop on a plane, but you’re still allowed to travel within your country or state in many regions. Renting a secluded cottage amid snowy fields away from the city gloom could bring a welcome change of scenery and, literally, a breath of fresh air. If you live in the country, you don’t have to take a road trip to reconnect with nature. Starting a new tradition of decorating your house and lawn with Christmas lights or building elaborate snowmen, or having other fun activities outside will shift the focus for now. It will prevent you from piling on the dreaded holiday pounds every coming Christmas.


This year has put our lives upside down, so no wonder our holiday celebrations will look very different, too. Still, it could be the perfect chance to create some Christmas traditions that we’ll cherish and memories that will stay with us forever. Have a safe Christmas and a healthy New Year!