Wednesday, November 25 2020 9:21

Gifting Comfort

Written by Madison Meinel

How to Spread Cheer During This Very Different Holiday Season

The holidays may look and feel a bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean the season has to be any less merry. We’ve gathered some festive ideas—from gifts to new twists on old traditions—to help you plan for a very special holiday season.


Gift Giving

Although it’s likely fewer of us will be visiting family and friends, it’s still important to spread plenty of holiday cheer, no matter the distance. And supporting local businesses while we do that gives each gift extra meaning.

Subscription boxes are becoming a hot ticket as the gift that keeps on giving, brightening many months beyond December. The concept is that the recipient gets monthly, bimonthly or periodic packages—reminding them each time just how much you care about them.
While there are countless variations of subscription boxes to choose from online from national sources, we suggest you use their ideas as a starting point. Instead make your own personalized gift subscription boxes by shopping at local stores.

You can gather a selection of the latest fashions and accessories at Jane Chalfant|Kiki Boutique and send a different item every month or two. Or put together self-care kits from The 5 Senses with handmade candles and soaps to send throughout the year.

Food lovers will enjoy tasty treats from Chester County. Send a sweet treat from Eclat Chocolates’ delicious destination series with chocolate bars that take your palate around the world—perfect for those with an itch to travel. Or create a wine subscription by sending selected bottles from local wineries like Chadds Ford Winery, Galer Estate Winery or Paradocx Vineyard.

For something more seasonal, consider sharing a living gift of holiday plants, like bright poinsettias—classic red, white or variations—or the wintertime favorite amaryllis bulbs. Both bloom for weeks on end keeping the holiday spirit bright and merry. Follow up with plants and flowers for every season. Shop local for seasonal plants from West Chester’s Matlack Florist and Newtown Square’s Mostardi Nursery.

Customized local subscription boxes are a fun way to get creative with your gifts while adding the extra benefit of supporting the local businesses we know and love! And if the recipient lives close enough, you can do your own delivery to the front porch.

Gift cards are another way for you to gift the gift of supporting downtowns. Choose gift cards from your family’s favorite shops and restaurants in the area. We call it the gift that always fits.

Take a trip into town and admire the holiday window displays as you window shop and pick up gift cards to support buying local. This way family and friends have something to look forward to when they’re ready to go out and about again. Plus restaurants also need the love during the cold months.

For those with family close by, consider giving the gift of time. Help out young parents in your life by offering to babysit (if it’s safe) and give them a date night out. Bring homecooked meals to family and friends for a night off from cooking or help older family members decorate for the holidays.

How about making a homemade coupon book so they can cash in their free babysitter or homemade meal on a night of their choosing?

Or put together a recipe book filled with classic holiday dishes or comfort meals from family recipes. Send out the recipes early so family members can cook the same meals for holiday dinner.

New Traditions

Yes, it will be harder for extended family to get together for the holidays. But thanks to technology (and some creativity) some traditions can still be celebrated.

In fact, you may be able to gather even more far-flung family members together since fewer schedules and travel itineraries need to be as carefully coordinated. Plus, it’s easier for your West Coast friends to log on than lug luggage across the country.

So why not try some new twists on old traditions to keep the holiday spirit alive and well?

Start the festivities off right by dedicating time to decorating for the holidays. Get the whole family involved by sending out holiday decorating gift boxes—from places like SparkleAllTheWay or, of course, make your own—filled with fun and unique ornaments and decorations. Once each person receives their box, plan a night to decorate the tree over Zoom, Skype or your favorite link. Add to the ambiance with a Spotify playlist to share all your favorite holiday jingles, and sing some carols while you’re at it. For a full-on Griswold family Christmas, consider getting matching pajamas. You’ll deck the halls while creating lasting memories together.

If some can’t make holiday dinner (Zoom or not), create a portrait gallery of your family members, including those no longer with you. Another idea: print out a life-size version of their face, tape it to a paint stirrer and pop them into any family photo you take this year.
You can also create virtual family time after a socially distanced dinner. Well before dinner, have everyone submit some funny family photos along with fun facts you may not know. After dinner have a caption-writing contest with the photos and some family trivia with the background facts.

And don’t forget the annual gift exchange! There are plenty of apps to download for the usual gift giving activities, like Secret Santa. The free app Elfster invites your friends and family to download, create a group wish list, draw names and mail the present. Easy as holiday pie!

If movies are a big family tradition, try a holiday movie night using Teleparty to sync streaming services between different devices and enjoy all your favorites during a group viewing of White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life or Elf.

You can also have your house smelling sweet all month long with a virtual cookie exchange. Instead of sharing cookies in person, choose a few nights before Christmas to have each participant teach the group to make a cookie of their choosing over Zoom or Facetime. Amp up the fun and competition by voting for the best cookie. Add a special prize and bragging rights for the winner.

Another tradition to keep: checking out the Christmas lights. Instead of heading to the usual big Christmas light display, just drive around your neighborhood or surrounding communities to admire houses decorated in their holiday best. Stay in your bubble while still basking in the magic of Christmas spirit.


More for the kiddos: plan a visit from Santa Claus. But safely. Check out the website JingleRing for virtual Santa visit delivered right to your computer. Set up a live call with Santa or a prerecorded message (if the holidays are a bit too busy). Options can include a keepsake video, storytime with Santa and a guest appearance from Mrs. Claus.

And finally, if you’re able to safely have family or friends over during the holidays, create a welcome package for them. Include a cozy blanket for guests to keep warm when sitting outside and a customized mask and house-made hand sanitizer for when they’re inside and close to others. These welcome packages keep guests safe and are a useful keepsake.

No matter how you chose to celebrate this year, we hope you and your family stay safe and healthy. Happy Holidays!