Instead of That, Try This: New Holiday Traditions for 2020

If I hear the phrase “Out of an abundance of caution…” one more time, I might scream!

In a year where it feels like everything has been canceled, many of us are trying to figure out how to keep the magic of the holidays alive when we can’t participate in many of our usual traditions.

Remember that old song (I learned it in Girl Scouts!): “Make new friends, but keep the old…”

Well, hopefully, we can go back to our old traditions soon, but in the meantime, let’s try some new activities with our families this year. Who knows? They might end up sticking around and becoming new traditions!

Instead of That, Try This: New Holiday Traditions for 2020Instead of Pictures With Santa, try this:

Virtual Santa:

  • Coral Ridge Mall is accepting reservations for a Virtual Visit with Santa, Storytime with the Clauses, or a Pre-recorded Personalized Santa Video!  Visit their website for details! 
  • Covid Recover Iowa has launched FREE virtual Santa visits! You can book your free virtual visit with Santa on their Facebook page.

Socially Distant Santa:

You can still visit Santa at the mall- it will just look a little different! Check out Lindale Mall and Coral Ridge Mall for details!

Instead of Crowded Holiday Events, try this:

Virtual Events and Shopping:

Cedar Rapids Tourism has an event calendar with all sorts of virtual activities and shopping opportunities. Note- as things change often due to the pandemic, verify all events directly with the organizers to make sure it is still on!

Support Local Businesses, Socially-Distanced: 

Many event organizers and vendors have worked so hard to make you feel comfortable attending their event or location. Mask up, keep your distance, and enjoy the holidays in a slightly different, but still awesome way! Check out some of Cedar Rapids’ best Holiday Traditions

Instead of gathering at Grandma’s, try this:

Zoom Games:

Hear me out- I know you’re all Zoom-ed out! But don’t just get together and chat! Play some awesome games together. We recently gathered all the cousins together and played Pictionary using Zoom’s Whiteboard and Private Chat features ( to drop the word for them to draw). It was a blast!  You can also play Jackbox games (if one person owns it, everyone can play), or even Trivia games

Other virtual ideas:

We have also done talent shows, karaoke competitions, made crafts together, done a virtual scavenger hunt or escape “room”, and even baked cookies or decorated cupcakes together.  Try something new and you’ll barely feel the distance!

Check out How to Socialize while Self-Isolating for even more ideas!

Instead of a Cookie or Gift Exchange, try this:

While the risk of contracting COVID-19 from baked goods is minimal, having prolonged contact with others not from your immediate household does increase that risk. Instead of hosting a Cookie or Gift Exchange, try one of these ideas instead:

Gift a DIY Cookie Kit from Bistro 3 Nineteen:

Pre-made dough, frosting, and decorations will keep kids entertained! They have Winter, Christmas, and GF Cookie kits for $20-26 each. Or, make your own kit and drop it off to a family who would love this.

Doorstep Delivery:

Put together a plate of your favorite home-baked goodies (or store-bought, it’s 2020!) and leave it on the doorstep, contactless delivery-style for your friends and neighbors.

Have a Virtual Gift Exchange (White Elephant or other):

Use Zoom, or to make it even easier, try White Elephant Online (free for Friends and Family for the holiday season!) to host an online gift exchange! 

I’m sure there are other traditions you have that will need to change this year. But I hope this gives you ideas for some fun alternatives that will help keep everyone safe this year, while still being magical!

Happy Holidays to all!

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Valerie grew up Naperville, Illinois, and is a Midwestern girl at heart even though she spent 16 years in Phoenix. She moved to Marion in 2016 with her husband, daughter (14), and two sons (12 and 9). Valerie graduated from BYU with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. She is a former band director, a current substitute teacher and accompanist, and an avid reader and crafter.