Watching my 7-year-old daughter, Sadie, bake pies with her grandmother, aka “Gaga”, in her cozy Connecticut kitchen is one of my favorite holiday moments. In an oversized apron, Sadie stays up late with Gaga to knead dough and make fillings for our family’s apple, chocolate pecan, and cherry pies while the other adults drink festive cocktails and play “Clue” in the living room.
This year though, we’ve decided not to make our annual trip east to visit family. Like many Americans, to help curb the spread of COVID-19, we’re staying home for the holidays. Sixty percent of Americans say they won’t be traveling this year to see friends and family, and nearly half are canceling their annual holiday get-togethers. But even though many of us won’t physically be with extended family this year, we can still connect in meaningful ways and create lasting holiday memories.
On Etsy, I bought custom, matching purple aprons embroidered with a pie for Sadie, her younger sister, Lilah, their cousins in California, and Gaga. Then, using Canva, I designed an oversized chocolate pecan pie recipe card, which I’ll laminate and send to each child. The week of Thanksgiving, Gaga will lead a virtual, nighttime pie-baking class for her granddaughters.
Despite the pandemic, with a little creativity, it’s still possible to have a magical and meaningful holiday season while sticking close to home. Here are a few ideas to help make staying home for the holidays feel as “normal” as possible, and special in their own way.
Go all out on handcrafted decorations
Consider making a big deal out of holiday décor this year, with decorations you and your family can make together. Download and print free templates from HP to create invitations to real or virtual holiday dinners, place cards, or table runners. For Thanksgiving, print out and color festive paper turkeys, napkin holders, fortune tellers, and gratitude cards to reflect on and share what you’re thankful for this year. For the winter holidays, you can make elegant wreaths, folded dreidels, origami ornaments, dessert toppers, and even a festive paper accordian.