An Organized COVID Holiday Season – When Less is More

This year has been like no other in our lifetime. What an opportunity to re-think the holidays!

Whatever we do this COVID holiday season may — by default, or by design — also affect our future.

What’s important to YOU during the holidays?

  • Peace and quiet? (Or, have you had way too much of that already this year?)
  • Connection with friends and family? (Such a challenge under quarantine conditions!)
  • Traditions? (Some of them may not be possible this year or may need to be modified.)

Here are some things that you will naturally be doing less of this year…or, that you can totally get away with doing less of. Doing LESS of what you usually do might be a relief. It also might pave the way — and free up energy, time, and funds — to do MORE of something else you might enjoy.

What an opportunity to re-think the holidays! Whatever we do this COVID holiday season may -- by default, or by design -- also affect our future. Share on X


Entertaining – OK, this one’s easy. In a pandemic, indoor holiday gatherings are not a good idea, even in small numbers, and even with close family members…unless they already live in your house with you, in which case it’s not called “entertaining”.

“Defaulting” – You know those events you get invited to every year that you don’t really want to attend, but you always say yes? Well, guess what? They aren’t happening this year! If you don’t miss them, maybe it will be easier next year to say, “No thanks.” How to Live and Work by Design, not by Default

Traveling – Yeah, no one’s going anywhere this year. Unless, of course, YOU are going somewhere. I’m not here to judge, but if you are traveling, please do it safely! Here are some CDC tips for you: Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Decorating – It’s up to you — it’s always up to you — but this is your chance to skip decorating altogether if you want to. Or… if it makes you happy, decorate MORE! Decorate as early as you like! But don’t buy anything new, so that you can afford the things on the DO MORE list. And, while you’re at it, you might as well organize your holiday decorations and set aside the things you no longer love and use so you can donate them.

Worrying – I’ll take any opportunity to do less worrying. What about you? This is an opportunity to fix pretty much anything that usually worries you about the holidays by opting out or changing things up. Maybe create a new tradition, and set yourself up for less worrying next year too. Organizing to De-Stress Your Holidays (all of them)


Zoom celebration — we voted!

Zooming – If you simply hate Zoom, and all similar video apps (Skype, Facetime, Messenger, etc.), then never mind. But if you haven’t even tried them, that’s a whole ‘nother story. This AARP article may help: How to Use Zoom to Stay Connected During the Coronavirus. I am subject to Zoom-fatigue if there are too many calls, and if they are too long. And there are trade-offs. I dislike out-of-the-blue phone calls, for example, but don’t mind scheduled calls. At least during a phone call, you can doodle while you talk, or gaze out the window, or unload the dishwasher (quietly), without seeming rude. But Zoom is a very handy way to stay connected and see people’s faces once in a while. And it’s not just for business anymore! You can have a Zoom game night, or a Zoom book club meeting, or a Zoom coffee date. I am planning a Zoom Christmas “Brunch” — no cooking! And, for Thanksgiving, my brother is planning to cook a meal and package it up for our family members who live here in town. I will contribute my fresh cranberry-apple-orange relish and help deliver. Then we will all get on Zoom to eat “together” and compare notes on what we’re most thankful for this year. Also, I just learned that Zoom is relaxing its 40-minute time limit on free accounts for the holiday. (Maybe Christmas too?)

Gift Ordering – I understand why everyone’s hating on Amazon these days, but I hope that when the time comes, you will all order my new book on Amazon. (My old book is still available, BTW.) Until then, I L-O-V-E the idea of ordering locally! Ordering what? Everything — groceries, restaurant meals, books, gift certificates, whatever you can imagine. Think of your favorite local gift shop, indie bookstore, or specialty market that you haven’t been inside since everything shut down. Check their website or call them. You might be surprised at what is available online these days that wasn’t before, and where they might be willing to ship or deliver it! Clutter-Free Gift Ideas are still my preference.

Food Delivery – You probably partake of food delivery even if it’s only an occasional pizza, which is about all I could get delivered to my neighborhood pre-pandemic. But now there’s nothing I can’t get! Moreover, did you know you can order a restaurant meal, or groceries, delivered to someone else, even if they live in another state?! Check whatever apps you already have (like Instacart or Shipt for groceries, and Grubhub or Door Dash for restaurants) to see if their service covers your loved one’s area. Or, check the website of your loved one’s favorite local restaurant or grocery store. Don’t forget to add a generous delivery tip! (The default tip is never enough.) Is it expensive? It can be, sure, just like there’s a range of prices at in-person restaurants. But, don’t forget how much money you’re saving on travel, entertaining, decorating, and events this year!

Holiday Cards – Don’t worry, I still believe in No More Holiday Card Guilt. At the same time, though, this year is different. Do you have more time on your hands? Feeling creative? Do you have a stash of unused cards from previous years? Can you think of someone whose day would be brightened by an actual piece of festive snail mail from you? (I think of them as little tiny gifts, both when I send them and when I receive them.) Is there a local shop you’d like to support by ordering cards from them? Did you know that SendOutCards has a free membership where you can send one card at a time? (You can still also take care of your whole list at once if you want.) Don’t worry about the timing or the occasion. (Thankful-for-you card? Missing-you card? Hang-in-there card?) Maybe this will be the year the holiday card tradition will regain popularity because people will appreciate the social contact so much more than usual.

What other activities do you think you might do more of…or less…this year?

Have you thought of any creative ways to celebrate your COVID holidays?

Please leave a comment. I’d love to read it!

Copyright 2020 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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  1. Janet Barclay on November 2, 2020 at 5:42 am

    Hazel, I love this! I’m starting to face the likelihood of not seeing our loved ones at Christmas, and really appreciate your positive outlook.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      I hope you figure out some enjoyable alternatives for your family, Janet!

  2. Seana Turner on November 2, 2020 at 7:33 am

    I think my favorite idea from this post is ordering dinner to be delivered to someone else. Most of my family is far away, and it never occurred to me to do this. Perfect idea as we look ahead to more lockdowns. We all still need to eat, and having a prepared meal or even just a bag of groceries show up would be a lovely gift!

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:07 pm

      Right? Kind of a new clutter-free gift idea. I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end — so much fun!

  3. Melissa Gratias on November 2, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Thanks for the inspiration to reconfigure the holiday season. There are some things I can release to make way for more meaningful traditions.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      Yay! Thanks for chiming in, Melissa.

  4. Linda Samuels on November 2, 2020 at 8:13 am

    The holidays will definitely be different this year for us. We are used to hosting a big Thanksgiving along with going to or hosting other assorted parties and gatherings through New Year’s. Not this year. It’s doubtful we’ll have any visitors or travel anywhere. However, we are still determined to make a nice Thanksgiving meal, even if it’s for two or three. And we have plans for a family Zoom on or around Thanksgiving. At the moment, I’m not sure how this will feel or what new ideas will surface. And that’s OK. I’m open to possibilities and change.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:09 pm

      Yes, we have time to figure it out!

  5. Diane N Quintana on November 2, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Great ideas, Hazel! A friend of mine (with whom I often spend Thanksgiving) is mailing all of the usual Thanksgiving Dinner guests a game to play. She will also send a Zoom invite. At the appropriate time we will all be together playing our Thanksgiving game. I am looking forward to that. It is a twist on something we ordinarily do. I appreciate the effort she is going to to make it happen for us all.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks, Diane! I’m curious about the game. We sometimes play one in person, and sometimes not. I wonder if there are online puzzles that are workable by Zoom groups? Hmmmm…..

  6. Sabrina Quairoli on November 2, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Congratulations on your new book!

    Over the years, I have been minimizing my holiday decorating since the kids are in college, and I really did decorate for them. But, this year, with both kids home early, we may do some of those decorating and annual traditions we did when the kids were in elementary school.

    But for Thanksgiving, I am the hostess in my small family. So we are having a small gathering for Thanksgiving, but I have modified the tasks quite a bit, taking into account COVID and minimal interaction with food and people. It took some doing, but I think it is important that we go that extra mile if we want to have a gathering. For example, we are doing all the cooking, so there is minimal exposure to handing out things and passing things around. We are also doing things in smokers (cut already into family serving sizes) and slow cookers. Lucky for me, I have several from other parties I hosted over the years. Each table will get their own cookie sheet of Thanksgiving food (which consists of smoked turkey, baked sweet potato, chestnut stuffing, honey glazed carrots, and dessert. The party will only be 2 hours, and with weather permitting, we will be eating outside on separated square tables — one for each family. We only asked people to bring closed bottle individual sized drinks. I bought sturdy plastic plates and silverware as well. I added my COVID party planning tips here as well if you want to see it.

    I know this is a lot of work for some people but for me, the holidays are all about family events. We do not see each other throughout the year so this time of year is important to all of us. We are not doing a Christmas gathering on my husband’s side this year either so doing this one event before the holidays works for us.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 2:03 pm

      If the Thanksgiving weather was likely to permit an outdoor gathering here, I might do the same. But it’s already snowed here once this fall, and Christmas weather is even less likely to cooperate. Sounds like you’ve thought of everything, though! Did you mean to link to even more tips?

  7. Sheri Steed on November 2, 2020 at 11:40 am

    I love the idea of having dinner delivered to people in another state! Most of our family live in other states, so I’m totally going to use this!

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 1:59 pm

      My BFF in another state had dinner delivered to me on my birthday. I knew it could be done, but had never tried it myself yet. So much fun! In my case, it was a surprise. But if you were worried about them being home or whatnot, I suppose it wouldn’t have to be a surprise.

  8. Ronni Eisenberg on November 2, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    There are so many great ideas here, Hazel. I can’t begin to tell you how timely this is. As I was reading this, I was also getting many texts from siblings about whether or not to travel out of state for a family funeral. These difficult times bring heartbreaking choices because of the heartbreaking circumstances.
    I sent the CDC link to my siblings urging them to stay home. I believe they will.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 2, 2020 at 1:57 pm

      Heartbreaking, indeed! I’m sorry for your family’s loss, Ronni, and I’m glad you like some of these ideas.

  9. OLIVE WAGAR on November 2, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Love the do less/do more strategies–especially giving yourself permission to change things up without the usual guilt!! I also like the idea of ordering food for loved ones in another state. I would not have thought of doing that. P.S. A local restaurant that always hosts a community Thanksgiving dinner is offering it as a drive-thru option this year. It would have been easy to just cancel, but it means too much to the owners. Isn’t that just so sweet?

    • Hazel Thornton on November 5, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Is a “community Thanksgiving dinner” free to those who want/need it? How lovely!

  10. LISA GESSERT on November 3, 2020 at 9:58 am

    EXCELLENT!! Thank you Hazel I will be sharing this one for sure on all social media! Loved it!

    • Hazel Thornton on November 5, 2020 at 8:50 am

      Thanks, Lisa!

  11. Jane Severance on November 5, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    Great ideas, as always! I wonder if i could find six other people with whom i could social distance Christmas carol.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 6, 2020 at 7:56 am

      I’ll bet you could! Another old tradition that might be especially welcome this year.

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