Yes, we agree, it’s going to be different for the holidays this year. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be great! The lyrics “Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays” takes on new significance amid the pandemic.

Why not make the most of staying at home by offering goodwill and cheer to those all around you? You’ve heard it’s better to give than to receive? Below are some ideas that follow that mantra and just might make this holiday season the best one ever.

Decorate the outside of your house

 Nothing brings a smile to folks like a house all decked out with lights. Add a little music if you really want to be an over achiever! Need some inspiration? Check out these ideas

And while you’re at it, decorate your outside trees with food for the birds. Birdseed and peanut butter are welcome treats and it’s a fun activity for kids. Here’s a link to show you how

Drop off a cup of Christmas Cheer

 A cup of hot coffee — some cocoa mix and makings. Even a cold six-pack of craft beer makes a nice surprise to find on your porch when you’re feeling neither holly nor jolly. Drop it off, ring the doorbell and RUN! Add a festive ribbon for extra holiday points!

 Exchange it

 Have your neighbors each bake one type of cookie. Pass your tray from doorstep to doorstep to be filled with the goodies.

Don’t feel like baking? No problem, cookies that are store-bought work great, too! You can even embellish store-purchased treats and salty treats with holiday sprinkles and/or by dipping them in melted chocolate.

Not a cookie fan? You can do a popcorn exchange, too! Kettle corn, cheese corn, chocolate popcorn…you get the idea!

Host a ZOOM ugly holiday sweater contest

 Issue the invitations for a specific date and time and then get out your hot cocoa (and whatever you want in it) and enjoy an hour with friends you can’t — or shouldn’t — be with. Everyone needs to participate, and a winner needs to be chosen before you can end the call. You choose the prize, even if it’s only bragging rights!

Santa surprise on Christmas Eve

 Jingle-jangle some sleigh bells around the houses where you know kids (big or small) live.

Adopt a family or someone who will be alone this holiday season

Whether it be a delivered holiday meal/plate or gifts under a tree for families that have had a rough go of 2020, share your good fortune and holiday spirit with those who could use a little TLC right now. Churches and local groups can direct you to those that could use your friendship right now.

Do some virtual caroling

No MUTE buttons allowed!

Secret ornament delivery

Take one ornament from your tree and secretly put it on someone’s porch with a note asking them to pay it forward and do the same. You don’t even have to know the person you present your ornament to! Talk about a Secret Santa…

Santa goes digital

If you’re yearning to get the kids talking with Santa just like you remembered from your youth, you can still do that with Santasclub.com. No malls, no lines, no COVID threat…there is a fee, but you also get a copy of the video to share with others as THEIR present! (think grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc.) The session also makes a great gift to GIVE.

Be a mask designer

They aren’t CDC approved, but it’ll be a whole lot of fun! No need to go out to buy the makings, you can use things you already have like paper plates, cotton balls, construction paper…and, of course, GLITTER! Take pictures to share with others. (mask photo from goodhousekeeping.com)

Mail early and often

TGFI…no – that’s not a typo. It means Thank God for the Internet! It’s a good season to shop online and send gifts directly to those both near and far. Need a push to get you started? Here are some unique gift ideas

A little something

There are all kinds of recipes and ideas using mason jars (or even your recycled glass jars!) They can hold a special treat, a memory, or a gift. Take a look at some idea of how very little it takes to brighten someone’s day this holiday season.

Host a holiday scavenger hunt

Select a few families. Set up a time for everyone is available. Email or text over a list of what to go look for…and GO! It can be around your neighborhood. It can be around the town. It can be around Grand County…you decide. Just have them take pictures when they find what you’ve asked them to search for. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved while staying socially distanced from those not in your bubble.

Parnell Quinn of The Simple Life offers this, “Grand County folks are great at making the best from whatever is thrown at them. This Christmas will be no different. Around here, you’re only a stranger until that first ‘hi’. We’re always there for each other…even when we can’t be together. It’s the reason we keep on helping build Grand County… one neighbor at a time!”

Happy Holidays to all….and to all a good night!