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December 1 Do an Act of Service
There's no better way to kick off the Christmas season than by doing an act of service. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is finding a family to sponsor in a Sub for Santa. For the past several years we have organized a Sub for Santa for our neighborhood in lieu of neighbor Christmas gifts. We help provide Christmas wishes for families from the local Boys and Girls Club. It's a great way to remind my children about the true reason for Christmas and helps them see beyond their own wants to help make Christmas special for someone else.
This is something that could easily be done as part of your family Distance Christmas. Find a family or two to sponsor through a local charity and send the wish lists to your Distance Christmas family. Everyone can participate in serving together, wherever you are. If family members are nearby, they can purchase items and drop them off at your home. And those loved ones who live far away can easily purchase items online from Amazon and have them shipped straight to you. Make sure you take lots of pictures of the gathered gifts and the delivery so that everyone can share in the joy of serving others!
Here are some other service ideas:
1. Visit JustServe.org to find organizations in your area where you can serve in your
2. Visit ComeUntoChrist.org - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a
Light the World campain where you can get daily service texts throughout the
month of December or download a calendar with service ideas for each day of
3. Visit OperationGratitude.com to help our Troops and First Responders. You can
write letters, collect donations, or make handmade items to be sent to
U.S. troops and first responders around the world.
4. If you have snow, shovel someone's sidewalks
5. Offer to pick up groceries for someone who is homebound
6. Drop off a treat on someone's doorstep. These cute boxes are great to package
treats with a festive flair.
7. Send someone a note of gratitude or encouragement
8. Donate to a local charity
9. Serve in a local soup kitchen if the current regulations allow
Whether you organize a service project for your group, or do your own individual act of service, share what you are doing with your Distance Chrsitmas group in texts, photos, and videos. And we'd love for you to share with us as well on Facebook or Ingstagram @DistanceChristmas.
December 2 Decorate a Christmas Tree
Decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most common holiday traditions. Maybe this isn't one that you would think of doing with your extended family and friends. But why not, make it a new tradition of sharing your decorated trees with those you love. Here are some ideas:
1. Keep it simple - decorate your tree as you normally would, take pictures of the final product and send them to your Distance Christmas group
2. Take a video of everyone in your family telling about their favorite ornament.
3. Gather together on on Zoom, FaceTime, or even a phone call and chat and visit while you decorate your tree. We love using our Amazon Echo to make phone calls becasue everyone in the family can hear and participate in the conversation.
December 3 Hang Christmas Lights
Putting up Christmas lights on your house is definitely not something that you gather with friends and family to do. But the whole point of Distance Christmas is to create togetherness - without having to be together. And you can even do that over hanging Christmas lights. Maybe you just take a picture of your house lit up with lights to show your family who live too far to see it themselves. Or perhaps you share the amazing company you found to hang your lights for you. And if you have a husband like mine who refuses to ever hang up Christmas lights, you can just buy one of these projector lights and call it good. The family text conversation on this topic is bound to be entertaining, especially if you be sure to throw in some jokes to Grandpa warning him not to fall off the ladder.
December 4 Pop Popcorn and Watch a Christmas movie
Whether you are stuck inside because of cold weather, or because a pandemic has you quarantined from your family and friends, there's no better time to relax and watch a movie than during the month of December. With so many holiday classics to choose from, it may be hard to choose just one. But whatever movie you choose, you can still connect with your family and friends over a favorite Christmas movie even when you aren't able to be together in the same place. Here are some ideas how:
1. Keep it simple: start a text discussion with your Distance Christmas group about what everyone's favorite Christmas movie is.
2. Pop some popcorn and watch your favorite movie together with your immediate family. We have a new-found love of stovetop popcorn, which is so much easier than I ever thought. Simply heat up 2 T of oil in a thick bottomed pot. Add 2-4 popcorn kernals while you heat the oil. Once those few kernals pop, add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernals, cover with a lid, and remove from the heat for 60 seconds. Then return the pan to medium heat, shaking the pan every few seconds to prevent burning. Once the kernals begin to pop, vent the lid slightly to allow steam to escape. Once the popping sounds slow to once every couple of seconds, shut off the heat and dump the popcorn into your serving bowl. Add butter and salt or other favorite seasonings and enjoy! Or, if you want an easier (and healthier) option, an air popper is a fantastic way to go as well!
3. Choose a day and time and everyone watches your favorite movie "together" - same time, same movie, different places. Chat about it afterwards over text, phone call, Marco Pollo, etc. You could even send a care package before hand with the movie and some microwave popcorn.
4. Get together on Zoom to actually watch the movie together. Someone plays the movie on their computer and does a screenshare so everyone can watch. My daughter does this with her cousins to watch Youtube videos and they love it!
December 5 Decorate Gingerbread Houses
When I was in elementary school, the year to look forward to was third grade, because that was the year you got to decorate gingerbread houses. Everyone would bring their own gingerbread house - mine was made out of wood, probably becasue we had 6 kids and my parents didn't want to make a new one year after year. We would all donate buckets of frosting and candy for the class to share, and we'd have a gingerbread decoating party at school. It was THE BEST, and I was one of the lucky ones who got to do it two years in a row! (I was in a 2nd/3rd grade combination class in 2nd grade.)
I think it was this experience in elementary school that lead to my love of decorating gingerbread houses. (What kid wouldn't love a giant sugar fest with 30 of your best friends, all in the name of education? As a former elemetary school teacher, I have no idea what would have possesed a teacher to start that tradition!) In years past, I have been ambitious and made my own from scratch using this silicone mold. I love the way my house fills with the smell of gingerbread while it bakes, and I love shopping around for the perfect little candies to cover the houses with. Recently, however, I have gotten lazy and have bought premade gingerbread kits like this one. But I always struggle to get the houses to stick together with the frosting and often resorted to the glue gun to put them together. Finally I've gotten smart and now I just buy my houses premade from Costco - by far the easiest, and best deal around.
Whichever way we do it, decorating gingerbread houses has become one of my kids' favorite holiday traditions. Sometimes we do it with friends, sometimes with grandparents, but according to my kids, it just isn't as fun to decorate gingerbread houses by ourselves. So here are some ways decorate gingerbread houses with family and friends, from a distance:
1. Keep it simple: Decorate gingerbread houses with your own family, take pictures or video, and share it with your Distance Christmas family via text, etc.
2. Choose another family to decorate with. Get together over video conference (Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) and visit while you decorate at the same time. This would probably be best with only one other family, as it can get a little chaotic with little ones and sugar!
3. Make a care package to send to your extended family - graham crackers, a tub of frosting, and some candy are all you need!