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Making the Holidays Fun this Year (while Keeping the Pressure Off…)

A couple of years ago we wrote about 7 Ways to Simplify Your Holidays. After re-reading it, it was almost a relief to think about all the things we still *don’t* have to do this year (unless, of course, you really want to)!

If your family is continuing to play it safe and choosing not to gather in person again this year, there are still many things you can do to make the holidays just as special as in previous years. One thing’s for sure, changing it up and doing new, fun things will make for a very… memorable holiday… “hey mom, remember that time we saw Santa through the Plexiglass??”

And yet… we will definitely miss our large family gatherings and parties with friends. So what can we do to fill the void (while not putting too much pressure on ourselves)? We have ideas, people. Read on…

1. “Dress Up Fancy”

Last year, Alice begged us to dress up fancy for holiday pics. At first, I hesitated because…. why? (Note: I’m not a big dresser upper).

But we did it and it was super fun! We made a wonderful meal (a “fancy meal”) and lit a lot of candles and pretended like we were at a party. No regrets! I suspect we will do the same this year. 😎🥂

So put on those high heels and that sequin dress, mama! Even if it’s just for your family. It may be the only time you’ll wear them this year, plus it will make for great memories. ~ Meg

2. Get Outside and Play

A few weeks ago, my family and I were feeling the effects of the Covid winter blues (seriously, Omicron?! You had to arrive just in time for the holiday season?!). My husband and I looked at each other and said, “we gotta get outside.”

Fresh air is good for everyone — yes, even when it’s brrrr cold out (we live in Minneapolis, YAH, it’s cold!!). Playing outside together in the snow and breathing in that cool, crisp air did wonders for all our moods.

If you’re also feeling the cold weather doldrums, I seriously urge you to take time each day to bundle up and get outside for some winter fun. (Need inspo? Here are some of our favorite wintertime outdoor play activities the whole fam can enjoy!)

Now get off your screens and go out to play like a real human!
~ Marissa

3. Share a Special Holiday Drink

Create your own specialty holiday drink, or find a yummy wintertime beverage recipe online, such as this delish sounding Grapefruit Cardamom Gin Fizz from The Modern Proper, or any of these winter sangria drinks from Delish.

Meg’s favorite is Jingle Juice Punch (two words for ya: whipped vodka)

Need a festive and cozy drink for the kiddos? Give this Hot Chocolate recipe a try.

photo by Bon Appetit

Share the recipe with your friends and family, and then set up a virtual holiday toast so everyone can “cheers” together!

~ Marissa

4. Fun with Neighbors: Drop off Treats or Secret Santa

I have the very coolest neighbors here in Palm Harbor, FL. Since we can’t party together in person, we are doing “12 Nights of Wine,” where one person brings a glass of wine (or a cocktail) to the other 11 people every night. It is so much fun!

a different drink each night!

There are so many fun things to do with neighbors, especially during years like the ones we’ve had recently. I love a good neighborhood Secret Santa – or these cute little pass-it-on gift ideas.

There are tons of cute DIY/homemade gifts you can make with your kids and give out to neighbors; it will be much appreciated, especially by your elderly neighbors who may feel extra isolated this holiday.

Best part: let your kids be the couriers, they absolutely love delivering all the gifts to everyone. 🎁

5. Order a Delicious Meal from a Local Restaurant

The holidays may look different again this year. If you’re not going to be cooking for a big group this year, why spend 7 hours prepping a holiday? It’s much better to relax and spend that time bonding with your kiddos.

At Thanksgiving, I ordered a pre-made meal and my family watched Home Alone and Home Alone 2; we even took an evening walk. We made a dessert as a family, which was a lot more fun and mellow than having to cook and coordinate an entire meal all. day. long!

Consider getting take-out from a local restaurant (with all the fixings) to heat at home. If you live in an urban area, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from (check out Door Dash, GrubHub and Postmates for ideas).

Plus, you’ll get to support local restaurants and businesses that are still in dire straights due to the pandemic. Not cooking and doing a good deed during the holiday season? It’s a win/win situation ~ Charlene

6. Holiday Light Tour

No Covid variant can take away this holiday season tradition!

Truly, one of my most cherished childhood memories was driving around town with my parents, listening to classic holiday hits, in search of our city’s best Christmas light displays.

This is such an easy, festive, fun (and Covid-friendly!) activity. Just do a search online to find holiday light tours happening in your town (you’ll probably have to purchase a ticket for these) or a listing of the best neighborhood light displays (likely free). Then get the kiddos in the car, jam out to some Rudolph, and enjoy the sparkle and spirit of the season! ~ Marissa

7. Movie/Book Marathons

Baby, it’s cold outside… so snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa, and a good holiday book. Family fun activity: choose a holiday book to read together each day throughout the winter break — a great way to spend cozy, quality time together as a family, and get into the holiday spirit.

It’s not Winter Break without movie marathons, people! This year, we’ve been all about the movies. Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Elf, Home Alone… so many great options. Just turn on AMC or check out Popsugar’s list of the best holiday movies to watch with kids.

Enjoy! ~ Marissa

What are your plans for the holidays this year? Leave us a comment below.

Thanks! ~


  1. I LOVE these ideas, especially the 12 Nights of Wine! You all have provided something fun and festive for everyone! Even during a time when we are all so tired and weary of this darn pandemic, the staff at Lucie’s List always manages to come up with great ideas that would brighten anyone’s day! Thanks for keeping the sparkle in the holidays!

  2. Great ideas! We already do a few of these things so it’s nice to know we’re trying to make the most out of this crazy time. I love the movie/projector idea. One idea we had maybe for next year was to decorate our backyard shed like a gingerbread house.

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