It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us! While usually that would mean large holiday parties, visits with Santa, Christmas lighting celebrations and more, the coronavirus pandemic has caused us to have to think outside the box this year.
But while the holiday season may be different, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you and your family to make it special. We rounded up a few ideas on how you can spend the holidays at home this year in Ann Arbor, from watching a festive movie to baking holiday cookies. Because at the end of the day, the holiday season is about creating memories with the people you love—even virtually.
Watch a holiday movie
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without an annual watch of your favorite holiday movies. Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life and even Die Hard are great choices when it comes to upholding that important holiday ritual. So pop some popcorn, bake some holiday cookies, and settle in with your family to watch a few classic films! If you’re looking to add a local spin to the holiday, check out our guide to 18 of the Best Movies and TV Shows Based in Michigan, which includes some semi-wintery movies perfect for holiday binge watching.
Send out personalized holiday cards
Holiday cards are an annual tradition for many families. Setting up the whole gang in the front yard with your favorite Christmas sweater to take a family portrait brings back so many memories. But during a pandemic, when it isn’t safe to gather with large groups of people, sending out cards with a picture and a kind note is even more important! Pick up a few holiday-themed cards at the Caravan Gift Shop in the Nickels Arcade and spend the day writing and addressing notes to family and friends.
Order take out from a local restaurant
The pièce de résistance of the holidays is the annual family dinner. Turkey, ham, quiche, butternut squash—you name it, it is a holiday tradition for a family out there. But if you don’t feel like putting a ton of effort into creating a holiday feast for just a couple of people this year, head to a local restaurant to pick up a pre-made meal! Whether you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned cheeseburger or want an actual holiday-themed meal to celebrate the day, A2 restaurants have you covered. Here’s a list of the best restaurants in Ann Arbor according to Yelp that will be able to offer you comfort and good food this holiday season, no matter what you’re in the mood for.
Participate in a virtual holiday event
Photo courtesy of Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels
Massive holiday parties, tree lightings, Santa visits and other usual annual events may not be in the cards for the 2020 holiday season. But Ann Arborites have always been creative, coming up with fantastic ideas for virtual holiday events to help you bring a little cheer to your home. Holidays at Home in Ypsilanti, a Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels fundraiser, will feature musical entertainment, an online auction and a box of food that you can create at home with the help of a virtual class. Click here for more information.
For the kids, don’t miss the Ann Arbor Art Center’s New Year’s Extravaganza art camp! This three-day virtual camp will teach you and your family how to make a dazzling New Year’s Eve wearable item, silly photo props, and a special box to hold treasured memories and keepsakes. All you have to do is register for the event (which you can do here) and then stop by the Art Center to pick up your ArtBoxes between December 15-19, which includes everything you’ll need to make your crafts.
While getting presents is exciting, we think that wrapping and giving presents is even more fun! This year, since you have a little extra time at home, go all out with wrapping. Get some local wrapping paper and bows from Rock Paper Scissors (like this Snoop Dog-themed wrapping paper!) and spend some time practicing calligraphy for your gift recipient’s name. Whether you’re planning to send these gifts off in the mail or giving them to someone in your own home, the little extra effort will go a long way!
Do a holiday-themed puzzle
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Settling in with a warm drink and a puzzle on a snowy day sounds a little like heaven to us. If that’s you too, don’t miss this opportunity to spend an entire day working on a challenging, holiday-themed puzzle! Depending on what difficulty level you’re looking for—and if your children want to help—there are a lot of different places in Ann Arbor to get a puzzle. Mudpuddles in the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, Nicholas Books, Vault of Midnight, My Urban Toddler and The Little Seedling all have great selections of puzzles for the whole family.
Put together a gingerbread house
Gumdrops, icing, gingerbread—what’s not to love about an edible house made from cookies and candy? If you’re stuck at home this winter anyway, why not take a few hours to build your gingerbread dream home with the whole family? Here’s a list from Spruce Eats of the best gingerbread kits of 2020 that are fun and delicious (because we all know gingerbread houses don’t always taste as good as they look).
We just can’t imagine the holidays without holiday-themed cookies. Luckily, the most popular event from Zingerman’s Bakehouse is back for the 2020 holiday season—virtually! Fancy Schmancy Holiday Cookies will teach participants how to make the best cookie creations using whole grains, local ingredients and freshly milled flours. There are more than 40 classes through Christmas Eve and all the spots are almost sold out, so register as soon as you can as this event is likely to fill up quickly. And, if you get there too late, be sure to register for their waitlist just in case they have any spots that open up later.
Drive around your neighborhood to see Christmas lights
One of the good things that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the overwhelming sense of community. Ann Arborites have been constantly working to bring a smile to neighbor’s faces through chalk art, kind notes and even early Christmas lights. When you walk around your neighborhood, you’ve probably already started seeing incredible light displays but why not make an event of it one night? Fill a few thermoses with hot chocolate and take a drive around your subdivision at night to get the whole impact. Not only is it a fun way to pass the time, but it will also create some time-honored memories your family will cherish forever.
Set up a video call with loved ones
The hardest part of social distancing means that we don’t get to spend time with all of the people we love. So, if you can, set up a Zoom or FaceTime call with your family and friends to wish them all the best during the holidays. You can even set up a massive party with all the people you would normally invite to your holiday shabang! Even though it is through a screen, you will love getting to spend time with your loved ones during this difficult time.
We hope you have an amazing holiday season!
Even though the 2020 holiday season is a bit unorthodox, we still hope you find ways to have a great time. Let us know what you’re doing to make the holidays special this year, in the comments below!