Okay, so 2020 didn't turn out the way most of us had hoped, but there have been many silver linings, including some new and very creative ways to connect and play together during the holidays! See if any of these might ease your transition into a socially distant season:
#1: Get a picture with Santa
Macy’s has a virtual Santaland complete with a greeting from Santaland elves, interactive games, a tour of Santa’s workshop and an interactive meet-and-greet with Santa that comes with a photo. Good fun with only a little product placement.
#2: Live (and on demand) holiday performances
“A Christmas Carol” live-streamed from London. Dec. 12-24, from $27
Handel’s “Messiah” filmed in the conductor's barn in upstate New York. Dec. 21 at 8 p.m., on demand through Jan. 10
“The Nutcracker” performed by the New York City Ballet. On demand Dec. 11-Jan. 3, $25
"Taylor Mac's Holiday Sauce...Pandemic!" is a punkish Christmas cabaret (not for the kids). Livestream Dec. 12 at 2, 7 and 10 p.m.; on demand through Jan. 2
"Hip Hop Nutcracker" is set in a diverse and contemporary New York. Livestream and on demand Nov. 26-Jan. 3, $25
#3: Winston from The Ghostbusters!
Pay your favorite actor, musician or athlete for a personalized shout out on Cameo.com. Including Winston for $135! He even wears the jumpsuit!
#4: Make people think you are holidaying in the Swiss Alps
Updating your Zoom background is the easiest! Here's where to click:
#5: High Octane Secret Santa
Who knew? Even Secret Santa had room for improvement. Draw Names lets you virtually draw names AND set exclusion lists for who should not draw whom. You can even anonymously communicate with your giftee to get hints for what they might like (intrigue!).
#6: Synchronized Movie Watching
Who remembers the scene in When Harry Met Sally where they watch a movie together, but from their own apartments. This could be us! Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) synchronizes video playback for Netflix, Disney, Hulu and HBO. And there's live chat on the right side of the screen, so you can make snarky comments without being shushed!
#7: Order an iconic dish
Support your favorite legendary restaurant by ordering authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, classic Texas barbecue, New York cheesecake or fresh Maine lobster rolls. Key lime pie from Key West, anywhere you are!
#8: Drive-in movies!
One business that did a big pandemic 180: drive-in theaters, who are now screening holiday classics and hosting socially distant activities.
#9: Learn the history of Christmas traditions
Why did we start hauling a tree indoors? Who was St Nick, really? And why December 25th? Watch this three-minute History Channel video to find out how this whole crazy thing got started, and then remember that the only part of it that matters is that the days are getting longer again, and isn't it nice that we have each other?
#10: Enjoy a drive-thru holiday light exhibit
My family used to feel like we were phoning it in a little, lazily cruising through the Portland International Raceway, oggling the Christmas lights that we had no hand in putting up. But no more! Now we feel smart and safe in our cozy minivan with heated seats. Thanks COVID! Find a drive-thru holiday light exhibit near you.
#11: Send major good vibes by donating to a good charity
Tis the season for giving, and now more than ever, others can use your help and kindness. Donate to what matters most to you: animals, children, coronovirus response, America's soldiers, you name it :)
#12: ONLINE DANCE PARTY!!!!
You guys, these are SO FUN!! A Canadian friend and I get together every Sunday night for a virtual dance party, complete with lights and costumes, and we get doooowwwwwnnnnnn. It's a great stress relief, you get to see people rocking out in their own homes, and you can go to bed at a reasonable hour. Join one here!
Teens: learn to declutter and organize your room in a way that is fast and easy to maintain. This technique also results in a a space that honors your uniqueness and helps you to feel centered.
Register at https://westlinnoregon.gov/library/home-organizing-teens
fully Both of these cabinets are above shoulder height in the kitchen of an average-sized women. Do you see how she placed only a few items on the edge of the top shelves because that's all she can reach? The shelves are about 19 inches deep, so that's a lot of wasted square footage!
I recommend these (or similar) deep bins by the Container Store. Now the client's food is can be organized by category, and easily reached. Also, we added a tiered rack for her spices, making them fully visible. Nearly every square inch of her beautiful cabinets is taken up by things she wants, needs, and can clearly see. So simple, so easy, so effective!
Want to fit more clothes in your dresser, yet still be able to see all your things? Follow these illustrations from Marie Kondo's book "Spark Joy" to maximize the vertical space in your drawers.
Reprinted from SPARK JOY Copyright © 2015 by Marie Kondo. Illustrations copyright © 2012, 2015 by Masako Inoue. Published by Ten Speed Press.
Here is the client's pantry before tidying:
Not too bad, right? Nice use of baskets, and everything is mostly in groups, such as cleaning supplies and food. There was room in the client's kitchen for food, however, so why not move it in there and save her some trips? Removing the food would also clear up space for her extensive collection of beautiful dishes which are currently hiding in cabinets and sparking joy for nobody.
Here is the same pantry after tidying:
Ahhh, now things have some room to breathe! Her beautiful (and lesser used) glassware collection is highlighted on the top shelf, and now there is room for her gift wrap supplies!
The client's cleaning supplies are now hidden behind the freezer and no longer remind her of chores as she passes the pantry. She also now has a special section for picnic supplies, including a grab and go backpack for dining outside with her grandchildren!
I found a really interesting study titled "Life At Home in the Twenty-First Century" (UCLA, 2012) and wanted to share the above image. It shows where family members were located in their home in 10-minute intervals over two weekend afternoons. As you can see, the kitchen is truly the control center of the house. There was also lots of activity in the family room with the TV, but almost no activity in the main living or outside areas. That's a lot of unused space! This is not surprising, considering that the average new single-family home has more than doubled since 1950, even though we now have an average of one less inhabitant (US Census). It's also not surprising that the number of items Americans possess has ballooned to fill these larger spaces. But there's hope!
If you see your own home in the above diagram and want to make better use of your rooms, try taking all the furniture out of the unused space and see what takes its place. Nature hates a vacuum. Maybe all that empty floor space will beckon and you'll find yourself in there with your yoga mat. Or maybe your husband will be thrilled to finally have a place for his train set, and seeing him happy will make you happy. Maybe the kids have always needed a place to play with their toys collectively, but you never knew it. It's your paradise, don't worry about what anyone else thinks, everyone has seen enough unused living rooms. It's time to switch things up! Let's turn our homes into the places we want to be, that look like all our dreams. (This last phrase comes from the book "The Big Orange Splot." A good read if you want to be encouraged to make inspired changes to your home but are worried that others will think you are crazy.)
How to infuse some quick spirituality into your home:
Step 1: Select a cabinet in your home, preferably one in your living room.
Step 2: Empty out all the contents (in this case, an entire record collection).
Step 3: Cobble some items from around the house that you enjoy, but don't need to use all the time. For instance, a scarf that might be a bit too short, some Christmas lights, a tea tray, a candle, a couple statues, and a seashell.
Step 4: Decorate the inside of the cabinet using shoeboxes in the corners to lift items, and voila! A central location for your spiritual practice that can be made private when company calls.