Tis’ the Season to Get Creative by Jennika Ingram

     Though 2020 has many of us dreaming about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve, tis’ the season to be jolly—creative. It is more important than ever to maintain holiday traditions, even as they’re required to change, using a little imagination this year. Throughout the pandemic, tried-and-true holiday festivities may require incorporating social-distancing. Still, there are many ways to bring people closer and turn up the holiday spirit, create good vibrations and a sense of fun. With a few easy changes, these fun holiday traditions can remind us what we love about Christmas and Hanukkah and other family holiday activities depending on your beliefs. We can still enjoy the time with family and friends we love if we discover imaginative solutions to make them possible and share the season with the special people in our lives.

Here are a few holiday traditions you can try:

1. Deck your house!/Deck the halls!

Consider taking the outside decorations to a whole new level this 2020 holiday season. With so many people needing a little extra cheer this year, putting up lights, wreaths on the door, and sleighs on your lawn, can surely bring smiles to your friends and neighbors. 


2. Holiday baking/ Make treats for Santa - and everyone else

Although you may not be able to have a baking party, holiday treats such as gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies and other delicious goodies can easily be made in one household, and then delivered as a surprise to neighbors and dropped off at their doorsteps, or put outside your house available for pick up. It can be a fun gift to friends and family to add to their spirits.


3. Holiday Music/Blast some tunes

This might be the year to hook up your sound system outside as people show up for the whole family to enjoy. While so many of us listen with our headphones, this might be the time to turn back the clock, to yesteryear, when families had one song playing throughout the house and have a shared music experience. Some favorites for those who celebrate Christmas are:

An American Christmas by The Boston Camerata (1993)

A Charlie Brown Christmas by The Vince Guaraldi Trio (1965)

Christmas at Trinity by The Choir of Trinity Church NYC (2001)

Christmastide with Jesse Norman (1987)

December by George Winston (1982)

Let It Snow by Chanticleer (2007) 

Rudolph, Frosty & Friends' Favorite Christmas Songs (1996)

Carols for Christmas I & II by The Royal College of Music Chamber Choir (1984)


4. Perform Music/Put on a show

This might be the perfect year to add a family performance to the books. Whether you have a big family or friends and neighbors, there are plenty of options for concerts or performances in your living room which can include a virtual format for those who can’t attend, or choose a location outside in your yard or driveway. One young man plays the violin to his grandmother outside of the glass of her nursing home. Christmas carols may be an option if done in small groups.


5. Ornament Exchange/Gift Exchange

Several people are mixing up their gift exchange this year, by making their own ornaments and meeting in a park, or on a virtual platform (and then delivering later), to exchange them. Consider the popular game where each person draws a number. The person with the first number gets the first choice of a wrapped ornament, and then the player with the next number can “steal” that ornament or pick a different wrapped ornament for themselves. The person with the first number has one more opportunity at the end, where they can choose to “steal” or keep the ornament they have.


6. Holiday giving/The gift of giving

Gifts for tots, donating trees to the environment, and other opportunities for sharing with others is paramount this year. According to the Los Angeles School District, many kids requested hygiene kits over toys this year, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, chapstick, Kleenex, soap, a brush/comb, wet wipes and lotion. So as much as it’s fun to give toys and treats, this might be the year to give essentials. Many organizations are also accepting electronic gift cards, so gift-giving can easily be done online.


7. Go to Church or to Temple

If you are concerned with going indoors, there are many options to be part of the holidays by going to an outdoor church service or through virtual platforms. It’s better for the soul to join the community and not self-isolate entirely, so take this holiday season to be a community member and join your fellow citizens in a service.

No matter your circumstances this year, what’s most important is making traditions new and old work in a way that’s safe—but enjoyable—for you and your loved ones. 

For more information on local gift giving and hygiene kits, email the Homeless Education Office: tammy.wood@lausd.netOr the Venice-based Safe Place for Youth, rachels@safeplaceforyouth.org

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