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For weeks we have been hearing that this Christmas will be different and that we need to make sacrifices to stay safe. The festive season is one which we like to celebrate with our family and friends. However, as we all know by now, this year it is better if we avoid meeting with people who are not from our same household. This does not mean that we cannot celebrate Christmas in another way. The traditional rituals and celebrations will need to be different and technology will be playing a key role in helping us feel connected to our loved ones. The following are some ideas how to celebrate the festive season in 2020, the year of the ‘new normal’.

1. Secret Santa – Traditionally you might do secret Santa with friends and family and then meet up to open the gifts together. You can do the same activity whereby you buy gifts for each other online. Then set up a group call where you can have a chat together and open the gifts you have received whilst guessing who your secret Santa was.

2. Cooking and Baking – Staying at home in winter can be quite cosy. In order to avoid going out and be in crowded places, find activities that you can do at home to pass time in a fun way. Cooking and baking are examples of such activities. When this is done, you can set up a virtual lunch/dinner where you video call friends and family and keep each other company.

3. Christmas Market – This year, it is unlikely that Christmas markets will be set up. Try to be creative and set up something at your own home. Choose a day where you will be celebrating the festivities and set up your own ‘stands’ and pretend you are at a fair. This activity will be great if you have kids as they will be excited to celebrate. For example; have a crafts area where you can create Christmas decorations, an entertainment area where you sing Christmas carols, food area where you can cook, bake and prepare some warm drinks.

4. Record Videos – To stay in touch with people you will not be meeting, record personalised videos for your loved ones instead of sending them a physical Christmas card. This can cheer up people who are feeling lonely and isolated during the festive season.

5.  Location – Try to avoidmeeting people outside your household but if you will be meeting friends or family members, try to do so outdoors e.g. go for a walk or have a picnic. Always follow the guidelines issued by the health authorities as to how many people you can be in the same group and how to protect yourself when in the company of others.

Remember that although this is not the Christmas that we were hoping for, we can still make it a memorable one and that in the future we will be able to celebrate festivities how we would like without restrictions. In the meantime, stay safe, get creative and enjoy how best you can.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.