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How to Celebrate Christmas in New York in 2020

How to Celebrate Christmas in New York in 2020

Here’s how to make sure your family has the best Christmas possible, despite how weird this year is.


This Christmas is going to look a little different from the year’s past. However, it’s still possible to make sure the kiddos in our family feel every ounce of magic that we did when we were young by coming up with new holiday traditions and new ways to make the holiday feel extra-special, even if you can’t be with the usual crew this year. The key to minimizing stress and disappointment this holiday is to plan early, suggests Child Mind Institute. So, here are some alternative ways to celebrate Christmas in 2020. Is your family doing something different? DM us on Instagram with your idea and maybe we’ll feature it below!

RELATED: Vote for your favorite holiday character to win $250!

Live Stream Christmas Mass

If it’s part of your family’s Christmas tradition to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve or mass on Christmas morning, but you want to skip the in-person mass this year, livestream the service! You can look up if your local parish is live streaming, or tune into a famous church’s mass like Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

Zoom Christmas Gift Opening

Whenever you and your family open gifts, invite your friends and family into the house (virtually) by opening gifts together over a Zoom call. To make it even more fun, organize a family secret santa!

RELATED: This is How to Manage Kids’ Gift Expectations This Year

Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a fun way to keep the Christmas magic going for weeks before the actual day. Tag us on Instagram (@NYMetroParents) so we can see your elf’s antics!

RELATED: Sesame Street Releases Resources to Help Children Manage Holiday Anxiety This Year

Check out the Christmas Lights in Your Neighborhood

There’s nothing like driving around during Christmastime with a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and Christmas music to go looking for the best Christmas lights in your neighborhood.

Watch a Christmas Tree Lighting

Nothing kicks off Christmas season like the first lighting of a Christmas tree. Whether it’s in person, online, or the tree in your home, countdown to the lights turning on! And tune in to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 2 on NBC—the event is broadcast only to avoid the crowds this year.

Write Your Own 2020 Christmas Song

Is your family musical? This Christmas will be unlike any other and the traditional tunes like “Jingle Bells,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “Winter Wonderland” just don’t cut it. Come up with your own 2020-themed Christmas song and post a video when it’s done. Don’t forget to tag us! @NYMetroParents.

Make DIY Christmas Ornaments

There’s so many different ways to make your own Christmas ornaments and if you need a little help, there are lots of online guided classes for making them. This Needle Felted Ornaments CraftJam teaches you to make ornaments sculpted out of wool. If painting is more your thing, take this Wooden Ornament Painting CraftJam. Both classes include a kit. Michael’s also offers free classes on its website, one of which is an ornament making class!



Have a Christmas Movie Marathon

Christmas movies get everyone in the spirit, no matter what's going on around them. 

Have a Christmas Cookie Bake Off

May the best baker win. Here’s some recipe inspiration.

Sing Christmas Carols

Lots of Christmas carol concerts are going virtual this year, like the Canturbury Cathedral, the Salisbury Cathedral, Lambace Palace, and Childline’s. Many are collecting money for good causes, too.

RELATED: Family Christmas Activities and Events in the New York Area

Send out a Video Christmas Card

If you’re missing family this year, why not make your Christmas card more interactive than ever? Instead of sending out a traditional card with a photo of your family, send out a video! Each person can take turns giving an update on their life, or you can compile pictures and videos from the last year to give them a little inside look at how life has been.

Learn how Other Cultures Celebrate Christmas

You’ve celebrated Christmas the same way year after year in your house. This year, take a look into how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. Maybe you’ll pick up some ideas that your family wants to try out, like decorating your house with green, gold, red, and white flower wreaths like they do in Argentina! Use this map to explore how other cultures celebrate the holiday.

Create a Family Volunteer Project

The holidays are the perfect time to give back, and doing it as a family is even more rewarding. Maybe your family wants to donate to a food drive or food bank. There are plenty of opportunities to give back in the New York area, whether it's in-person or from the comfort of your home. You can also have your family give back to the first responders and frontline workers of this pandemic by delivering food to hospital workers or writing thank you cards to their teachers.

Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Why not make gift giving a little more interesting this year (like everything else)? Hide clues around the house that point to where each gift is hidden.

Have an Ugly Sweater Contest

There are so many hilarious ugly Christmas sweaters for kids this season. Have family members who can’t be around join over Zoom and pick someone to be the judge!

Buy Matching Christmas Pajamas

If you’re not getting dressed up for this year’s holiday, you may as well have adorable matching Christmas PJs to wear to Christmas dinner!


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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes, a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, is the production editor for NYMetroParents. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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