This year, one of the Government’s struggles has been to strike a balance between protecting the public from the pandemic and permitting the celebration of eagerly awaited occasions and events. Christmas is no exception. Just when the celebratory mood was picking up with a line-up of events and activities set, the recent spike in Covid-19 cases cast a cloud over the festive season and led to stricter restrictions. This Christmas is, therefore, going to be different for families that celebrate. The holiday has been an opportunity for extended families to get together and catch up on the time spent apart during the year. It seems though, we are going to spend the holiday doing what we have done for most of the year — stay at home with members of our household and provide our own entertainment. On the other hand, retailers could be worried that Christmas lists are shorter than usual, with the economic fallout leaving people with less money to spend or even no motivation to spend at all. Glamorous outfits, luxury handbags and glittering jewellery lose their appeal when we are just staying at home. Despite the pandemic, however, we still need something to lift the gloom at the end of a miserable year and keep the Christmas spirit alive by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas that is giving, sharing and caring this holiday season. Embrace the season Just because the festivities will be a little different this year doesn’t mean they can’t be fulfilling. First, the ultimate way to ensure a happy, healthy holiday season is to keep in mind that the best present you can give or receive this year is the health and safety of your loved ones. Travelling to visit relatives can pose a risk to your own health and contribute to spreading the virus between different areas. This doesn’t mean traditions are off the table. Esther Kabagyeni, a mother of two, says just like with previous years, it comes down to careful planning, flexibility, and communication. “My husband and I have been doing turns on which family side to visit. This year, I have tried to keep the Christmas spirit alive in our home. The Christmas tree and décor are up with the help of my children and we have been playing Christmas songs throughout. I’m now planning to prepare our favourite meals with them for D-day. Involving my family in every activity and tradition is my way of keeping everyone in the mood away from their favourite relatives,” she says. She adds that not meeting with the favourite cousin or uncle can be daunting for the kids, so meeting online or via phone calls can help them enjoy the season from the safety and comfort of home. “To accommodate the adjustments that must be made for this year’s celebrations, consider what you love most about the season. Whether it is being with family and friends, preparing extravagant meals, singing Christmas songs, prioritise and start planning as soon as possible. Also, communicate your plans to your extended family and manage expectations,” she adds. Intimate celebration An intimate holiday at home for Celia Kamanzi, a businesswoman, doesn’t have to be downsized, and it doesn’t have to substitute your usual traditions. “Instead of a festive overhaul, think about keeping it creatively cosy. Don’t avoid church service when you can worship online. In addition, showing your appreciation by giving a small, inexpensive gift or perhaps sharing some Christmas food with vulnerable neighbours can go a long way. The spirit is in sharing the joy of the season by showing people you still care,” she says. Fun Christmas activities Decorate your home Bring in a little holiday cheer by decorating your home for Christmas. Staying at home this year is even more of a reason to turn your home into a festive beauty. Have a cooking or baking competition Whether you want to see who can make the best banana bread or who has the most creative salad, hosting a cook-off can be a fun way to fill your time at the holidays this season. The best dish can win a small prize or get out of clean up duties after Christmas dinner. Have a holiday movie marathon Netflix is offering tons of holiday movies and TV series this season. Pop some seasonal popcorn and flip on a movie that the whole family will enjoy. Host a virtual ‘friendsgiving’ recipe swap Just because you can’t actually see your friends or family in person, doesn’t mean you can’t carry on your traditions. This year, organise your ‘friendsgiving’ or games on Zoom.