For over six months, things we’ve long taken for granted, like knocking on doors to collect candy and large group gatherings, has required rethinking. We are more aware of what is important, more considerate and cautious, and more involved in our decision-making. We have awoken from our auto-pilot mode and moved into intentional choices.

Memes like “I want to put up my Christmas tree and eat turkey while wearing my Halloween costume,” began popping up as early as May. Now the holiday season is upon us. We must decide what we will and can do.

Here are five simple ways to make the most of this (and any) holiday season.

Take Inventory of Your Holiday Traditions

Make your holiday planning a family event. Set a day and time to gather. Prepare a special meal or treat. Play some inspiring music and let everyone contribute to the list of favorite traditions. Be sure to include family members that are miles away through the use of Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or even a speakerphone. When the list is complete, notice how many traditions can happen just as they always have. 

Now, look over that list for activities you can take up a notch or two. Do you normally mail out holiday cards? Why not add a day of card-crafting, so your friends and family receive hand-made cards infused with love. 

This is also a great time to incorporate new activities you have always wanted to do. In my family, we have cast-iron gingerbread house molds that we never use. I plan to drag them out later this month and build a gingerbread village for our Christmas centerpiece. 

If you are fond of the idea of hand-made cards but don’t see it in your immediate future, the junior crew at the Wardensville Garden Market has you covered with cards they’ve been busy preparing. These cards will be for sale in the market this holiday season.

Modify Favorite Activities to Keep Everyone Safe

Technology can play a vital role in modifying some of our favorite moderate- to high-risk activities with no more than a cell phone and some free apps. A few ideas include:

Replace door-to-door caroling with a recording of your favorite family-sung jingles you can electronically send to everyone on your holiday list. 

If the large holiday gathering won’t happen this year and you usually bring the string bean casserole, share the recipe by recording a video on how to make it with a special message or shared memories.

Keep everyone at the table by including absent members via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or live streaming. If you have limited experience in setting these up, there are many resources online to have you up and running in no time (or just ask the students in your family!)

Another way to get around the more risky activities is to embrace holiday-fusion. This simply means using aspects of one holiday for another. For example, use the traditional Easter egg hunt methodology for your Halloween celebration. Or coordinate with family and friends and take an Easter basket approach to Halloween, mysteriously leaving treats at the door by a certain hour.

Halloween 2020 at Wardensville Garden Market

Let Necessity Be The Mother of Invention

There are several unique, pandemic-inspired events popping up that you should check out. While social distancing raises traditional haunted houses to a high-risk activity (crowds in close-quarters yelling and screaming), there are now drive-thru haunted fields. Simply search “drive-thru haunted houses near (enter your zip code)” for those near you. Even drive-in movie theaters are extending their season to show holiday movies. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa and a few blankets on colder nights, and you’ll get no complaints.

One of my favorite new options is a spin-off of the traditional visit with Santa. Through Jingle Ring, you can obtain a live or pre-recorded virtual visit with Ol’ St. Nick! No long lines, no crying babies, and no sitting on a stranger’s lap. The packages are reasonably priced and can cost no more than a trip to the mall, when you calculate gas, photos, snacks, and incidental purchases. Extra benefits include an individualized experience considerate of all patrons, including ethnicity, language, faith, and even special needs.

Here’s another brilliant idea that works well within communities that are easy to organize, like social groups. Instead of expecting trick-or-treaters to go door-to-door to collect candy, have your little monsters stand in the yard while neighbors drive by and toss candy at them! Even with just a few participating families, this could be loads of fun while keeping the holiday interactive but safe. It’ll give your kids a chance to show off their Halloween costumes, too.  

Make the Most of Each Day

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday is the advent calendar. The countdown enhances the anticipation, and we all know it’s the journey, not the destination, that can be the most rewarding. Create your own countdown to any holiday, watch the excitement increase, and see how many boxes you can check off before the holiday.

Need some ideas for your countdown? Check out this list of funny, random, and weird holidays like Howl at the Moon Day & Night (October 26), National Absurdity Day (November 20), and Chocolate Covered Anything Day (December 16).

Consider Thy Neighbor

As I begin to plan for the holidays, I have to admit; I look forward to the excuse to scale down a bit, institute some needed change in my routines, experience deeper meaning, and create new memories. One sure-fire way to accomplish this is to support my neighbors. While we’ve just discussed ways to prevent a pandemic from getting in our way, there is no denying these have still been challenging times for many. Keep that in mind when making your decisions. 

Patronize small and local businesses before hitting the mega stores or making online purchases. Support your local artist by checking there first to see what they’re selling or commissioning them for a special gift no one will duplicate. This time, stop and buy those eggs from the farmhouse with the “Fresh Eggs for Sale” sign you’ve been passing by. Find out which elders will be home alone this year and deliver some baked goods. The list of ways to be in support of your community is endless and doesn’t need to be complicated. Just commit to being a good neighbor.

It can be so easy to focus on all the can’t do’s of these times, but what a waste that would be. There is still so much to get excited about; let that be your focus.

You are always welcomed at the Wardensville Garden Market. Visit our website for our store hours, online market, and special holiday sales like baked goods, pumpkins, and mums that are now available, and holiday trees and wreaths coming in November.

We wish you a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season! 

Shefa Nola Benoit

Shefa Nola Benoit

Youth Advancement Director

Hello, I’m Shefa (pronounced Shay-Fuh). With over 20+ years of empowering and organizing youth, working at Farms Work Wonders has allowed full integration of my personal values of community, integrity, stewardship, and the intrinsic value of every living thing through the services we provide. When you are next at the Farm, be sure to stop by and say hello!