While you may or may not have a lot of traditions in the past, it's likely that each of them is coming to mind this year, in 2020, as many of us have a bit more time on our hands or reflection in our hearts as we grow close to turning the calendar to a new year once again.
Situations, face coverings, gatherings, and more, are all different, and yet, all year, my hashtag #KindnessNeedNotBeQuarantined has been my guide through any change, setback, surprise, and/or disappointment regarding what was planned versus reality. It has made for some spectacular memories, including new ways of contributing, donating a kidney, and playing Pebble Beach with some "new friends".
In that light, hearing many people are bummed about what they "can't" do this year, let's instead focus on what we can do, and then...DO IT! To assist with those creative tweaks to past activities, and perhaps add some new ones, too, here's my list of the 12 YAYS of the Holidays:
1 - Volunteer. When you are off/down, focusing on others is one of the best ways to get back in touch with yourself. In a physically distanced way, you can get food or goods to those in need. For that, we chose Metropolitan Ministries. Or, go to a store and buy clothes and other items to donate off their sale rack. We went to a store and asked them to let us know what was left on the last day of their sale, bought everything, and will donate the remaining dresses to Dress for Success.
2 - Schedule a video toast with friends for 15-30 minutes where you share what you are thankful for while you offer good cheer. We started this with my Aunt and Uncle on Thanksgiving, and it was a ball. We will do it again on Christmas (a 5 hour time difference doesn't stop us!)! And, it could be cheers with coffee, water, or a drink - it's the cheers that matters, not as much what you cheer with!
3 - Go out in the area/neighborhood in your car, or on foot, over a few nights, and create a video of the most spectacular lights you see to share on social media, or as a tribute to those who hang the lights.
4 - Find out what your friends/family have as a favorite charity, and make a donation of $1 for each year you have known that person in their name/honor. Optionally, instead of lunch or dinner with someone, mask up and get some angels from an angel tree, or the needs of families from a food bank or local community center, and instead of buying each other gifts, spend the money on those in need and let that be your gifts to one another, too. My girlfriend, Christine, and I, have been doing this for a decade. Another thought is buying a star or a brick with a special memory highlighted as the gift of giving that star or brick to the recipient. The Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation will benefit from a brick bought by us this year. If it's more about being outside, run a mile for each year you have known someone while on a call with your earbuds in to reminisce about the miles covered. Let the walk or run be the gift to one another!
5 - Text a video greeting to those you'd normally see at parties and gatherings with a special, personal hello and happy holiday greeting for each of them (hold your phone horizontally, not vertically). If they sent you a gift, hold it up so they can see you and that special gift! That is something in addition to a personal card with a note and/or a photo of you with/using the gift they gave you! If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much you can "say" with a video or photo card!?!?
6 - Decorate a small tree or menorah with lottery tickets, and auction it off with your friends and family to raise money for a charity, and then mail or deliver the prize to the highest bidder (the "winning" may keep going!)!
7 - Buy mugs, wrapped stick candy, and flowers at the grocery store, and arrange them for a surprise "leave" at the door for local friends and family, and for those at a distance, send a photo card with the arrangement on the front with flower seeds inside for planting. You can give these to strangers by leaving them on their doorstep. Similarly, you can pay for someone's layaway or groceries or something else (pay it forward).
8 - Buy items and/or write letters/cards for deployed military members, and share your gratitude for their service with holiday cheer. We made a video for the 927th Air Refueling Wing with other Honorary Commanders and gave gift cards for the enlisted Airmen's families.
9 - Order a "12 Days" kit for a girl, boy, man or woman, and no matter what day you start, open a gift each day to have your very own 12 Days of Holidays. I ordered 12 pairs of holiday socks for Michael and an ULTA 12-gift package for me. We are wearing/using the items each day to ensure we really appreciate the "gift".
10 - Host a holiday movie streaming watch party where everyone has the same snacks (you can mail them or have Amazon or UberEats deliver as a surprise). Optional, you can host an ugly sweater contest by people posting a video to your group and then announcing the winner in a Video session (optional, have people make cookies that match their sweater theme for bonus points). Or, have a holiday charades session virtually or a Virtual Lip Sync Battle where you project to your TV. Take these events outside the virtual office for a change of pace and location. Another way is a wine and cookie, or coffee and cookie pairing where everyone has the items ahead of time, too. I do these for corporate fun, and have been having a good time delivering cheer these past two months!
11 - If you have ever held a progressive dinner or gone on a "pub crawl", recreate that in your home by decorating and naming each room, and having different courses, drinks or both, in that area. Take photos like you would if you were out. If you do not want to make the food, have UberEats or DoorDash or another service deliver food every 30-45 minutes for pacing. They leave them at the door, and that would be your incentive to go to the next stop! Here are some photos of our Team Lundberg 2-person pub-crawl from this weekend: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieLundberg
12 - Take some fun photos throughout the month, and make a Happy New Year bloopers card with silly shots to bring smiles to those who receive them as you look forward to 2021.
Surely there are many, many more! These are the 12 we are implementing, and no matter what, there will be fun, memories made...perhaps even some new traditions created, and absolutely a month worth remembering!