Five Pandemic-Friendly Activities for the 2020 Holiday Season

It’s no secret that the holidays this year will range anywhere from plain weird to extremely sad, depending on how your 2020 has been going (I’m hoping for all of you that it’s on the “plain weird” end of the spectrum).

In general, Nick and I both are very happy and grateful that we are back in Halifax close to family for the holidays. If we hadn’t moved from Toronto in September, I’m not sure what the holiday season would look like for us this year.

Nick and I on our nightly stroll along the Halifax waterfront.

That being said, I am still feeling a little sad about this upcoming Christmas. My sister lives in New Brunswick and is required to quarantine for 14 days if she returns there from any other province, so it’s looking unlikely that she will join us for Christmas this year (booooooooo) unless something changes in the next three weeks.

ALL OF THIS TO SAY: everyone (myself included) could use a little extra light and fun wherever we can find it over the holidays this year. So I’ve compiled a list of fun, pandemic-friendly ideas to make your December a little extra special.

1. Neighbourhood Tour of Holiday Decorations

We live in a little apartment so we need to head out on a trek to check out all of the festively decorated houses.

Make a hot chocolate – or buy one from your favourite local cafĂ© – and head out to see the fun decorations in your neighbourhood or in a neighbourhood nearby. I recommend walking if you can, because it’s too easy to be stuck indoors this year with work and school from home, but driving is a good option otherwise!

I’m really excited to stroll through some neighbourhoods in Halifax with a hot chocolate or a tea and check out all the decorations. We live in an apartment, and the extent of our outside decorations are some twinkle lights strung along the balcony. So, I’m really looking forward to touring different parts of the city with big, beautifully decorated houses.

Most people in Halifax probably know about this, but there are two brothers who live in the south end (at Connaught and Jubilee) that go all out with their decorations for the holidays. One of them even screens Christmas movies in his yard for people to see. So we will definitely be checking them out this year, and you should too!

2. Backyard Bonfire and Caroling

In normal times, my family loves to gather for a big Boxing Day bonfire.

If you or someone in your bubble has a fire pit in the yard, then I recommend lighting a good bonfire one night and surrounding it with your family or whoever is in your bubble. Grab a hot drink, bring your portable speaker, and blast some holiday music to sing along with.

Every year on Boxing Day, my family heads to our cottage near Antigonish, where a lot of my aunts, uncles and cousins stay over the holidays. We always light a huge bonfire in the evening, and it’s such a nice way to spend a winter’s night together. While we probably won’t be going to the cottage this year, my parents and Nick’s parents both have fire pits that could be a lot of fun to use over the holidays.

This could also be a fun way to spend New Year’s Eve if the weather holds up this year!

3. Special Delivery!

This is the year to find creative ways to connect with our loved ones, whether safely distanced in-person or over video calls.

This is a fun idea for connecting with friends or family outside of your bubble, or with people in your life who are higher risk.

Buy something fun like a pizza making kit, or festive like a gingerbread house decorating kit, and safely drop it off on your loved one’s doorstep as a surprise. Make sure you buy two, because you can head home with yours and have a video call with your loved one to do the activity together! This is great because it gives you an opportunity to safely do something fun with someone you love, as well as surprise them (could be your gift to them).

There are some businesses in Halifax (and probably other places too!) who have fun home kits available:

  • G-Street Pizza in Halifax’s north end has take home pizza kits
  • The Middle Spoon currently has a “Zoom Date Deal” with charcuterie, drinks and more for two to share over a video call
  • Layers Cupcakes on Barrington St has cookie dough ready to bake at home

Nick and I actually did something similar while we were in lockdown in Toronto last spring. We had two sets of couple friends in our building there, so we split delivery for dinner, and then ate together over Zoom. It was a really nice way to spend an evening and feel a little less sad about the circumstances.

4. Hike with Holiday Treats

Our most recent hike at Duncan’s Cove had absolutely stunning ocean views and perfect places to sit with a picnic.

I really want to do this activity over the holidays. Gather your bubble, and pack a bag (or safe, separate bags) of delicious holiday treats, for example: a thermos of hot chocolate, fancy cheese and Carr’s water crackers, festive trail mix (think red and green peanut M&Ms lol). Bundle up, grab your snacks, and head on a big hike.

I can’t emphasize how important it is, especially this year, to get fresh air and exercise where possible, so this is a really fun way to do that over the holidays! Especially because the big snowfalls and super cold days seem to hold off until after December; now is the perfect time to go for a fun hike with your bubble.

If you’re looking for some hike ideas around Halifax, check out my posts about the following trails:

5. The Halifax Waterfront Holiday Lights

The Tunnel of Hope is on the boardwalk at the end of Salter St in downtown Halifax. Its lights are on Wed-Sun every week until December 20.

Halifax is hosting a new holiday festival this year, Evergreen Festival, and it just kicked off over the weekend on November 28. Part of the festival is a stunning array of twinkle lights and evergreen trees from one end of the Halifax boardwalk to the other. Nick and I have been enjoying the lights on our evening walks, as well as the fresh Christmas tree smell wafting along the waterfront.

If you’re in Halifax, definitely take an evening (or several) to check out the Evergreen Festival lights, on until December 20. There are several other areas downtown with beautiful light displays as well:

  • Grand Parade/Halifax City Hall has a big Christmas tree and light show taking place every night from 4:30-9:45pm, which is really magical if you are in the area
  • The park at the intersection of Barrington, Hollis and South has holiday music and a massive tree lit in the middle, which is quite beautiful to see at night

If you are not in Halifax, check your community website or social media; it’s pretty likely that there is a beautiful light display nearby to enjoy throughout December.

The Christmas tree and light show at Halifax City Hall are magical to watch on a cold winter night.

I hope these festive thought-starters give you a few fun ideas for how to be merry this December. Times are not easy, but there is always a little light if you look in the right places.

P.S. Do you have any fun, pandemic-friendly ideas for the holidays (including New Year’s Eve) this year? Share in the comments below; I’m always looking for more ideas!

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