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Making Memorable Holiday Moments with Neighbors – BHGRE Season of Sharing

As the 2020 holiday season unfolds, it is still crucial to adhere to social distancing protocols. Though news outlets and government leaders are suggesting that the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, there is still a ways to go until we get there. This does not mean that friends and neighbors cannot enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s in a safe manner, however. A little creativity can go a long way when making holiday memories this year.

Reboot Gift Exchanges

Gift exchanges can be set up online through a video chat and can include adults, kids, or a combination of both. Whoever wants to participate can give their name to one person who will be in charge. That person can assign each participant someone to get a gift for, which does not have to be expensive. A monetary limit can be set for these gifts.

Another idea is to do a “white elephant” gift exchange. For this, each person can look through their house to find something interesting that is not being used. Who knows; it could be the perfect present for a neighbor!

Themes can make gift exchanges even more exciting. For example, every gift would have to be green or red; another idea could be food or drink gifts only. There could even be gift exchanges for pets. To maintain social distancing, the presents merely need to be dropped off on doorsteps, and they can be opened during a second video chat.

Opt Outside Whenever Possible

Many areas have had temperatures in the 60s this December, and as long as it isn’t too cold or wet, neighbors can maintain social distancing at outdoor events. Outdoor heaters and fire pits have gotten quite popular this year, and both are nice for friends to gather around. Everyone can bring their own snacks and drinks to stay hygienic, too.

To keep the kids entertained, try a scavenger hunt. Adults can hide goodies and gifts before the get-together and let children head out for the search a few at a time. Try color-coding the prizes to ensure each child only touches their own.

Neighbors who cannot attend the outdoor event might appreciate a visit from friends who enjoy singing Christmas carols or other festive songs. This is a lovely way to give back to the community. Stand in a semicircle on a neighbor’s lawn at an appropriate distance and bring joy to others through the gift of music.

Neighborhood parades are another idea that families can have fun with. Again, themes can really be a great starting point for organizing something like this. A pet parade could be really enjoyable, especially with dogs and cats dressed up for the holidays. Other suggestions might be ugly sweaters, holiday balloons, or bringing poinsettias or Christmas cactus plants to drop off on driveways.

An inverse parade is another great way to make memories. Set up holiday lights, inflatables and other festive décor on your lawn. Set a date and time with your neighbors and light it all up; invite members of the larger community as well. Then, you can drive through the neighborhood and admire everyone’s stationary displays.

Helping Your Neighbors

During the 2020 holiday season, the importance of giving back to others cannot be overstated. Many people are facing hard times, due to illness, unemployment, or not having access to the resources they need. It is not difficult to find a charity in need of donations, and organizing a neighborhood group for this can be very rewarding.

A few people can set up such a donation pool by asking neighbors to contribute to a worthy cause. Some ideas can be suggested as to which charity to select, and participants can then vote. Of course, more than one charity can be selected by the group. A deadline should be set for donations, and one person can be in charge of receiving the funds. When all donations have been submitted to the charities you selected, each neighbor who donated should be alerted.

It is important to remember social distancing rules for any holiday activities you choose to partake in, even when they are outdoors. Some events will lend themselves to drinking alcohol or eating snacks, which can make it more difficult to keep masks on or remain six feet apart. The threat of infection is still very real, but staying careful and focused while celebrating will keep friends and neighbors that much safer. 2020 has been a tough year, but there’s no reason to avoid holiday cheer.