Holiday Season Gift Guide – Pandemic edition

The holiday season is truly a beautiful time of the year. We’d like to think it brings out the best in us, regardless of the circumstances. For many, it is a time to reconnect with loved ones, share in the joy of gift-giving, and indulge in holiday treats. It is a time of joy, excitement and celebration. At least, that has traditionally been the story.

This holiday season brings new challenges. Many of us work in isolation with limited ways to enjoy festivities with friends, family and colleagues. But, even though we’re not sharing the same space, we can still find ways to celebrate the season.

To make everyone’s season brighter, we have compiled a gift guide that will warm the soul and create connection from the comfort of home.

1. Treat friends, family or coworkers to lunch

For now, gone are the days when we could treat friends, family, and colleagues to a festive lunch out. But don’t let that get in the way of your culinary companionship. Instead, plan a Zoom lunch and treat them to local options that can be delivered through any number of food delivery apps. This is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your foodie friends while supporting local restaurants.

Try out one of the many food delivery services and start planning your lunch date.

2. Say “thank you” with eCards

In a work-from-home world, it can be more difficult to see the incredible work being done by your colleagues, and easy to forget some of the niceties that come from sharing an office environment – like saying “thank you”. Fortunately, with a little time and effort, you can show them exactly what they mean to you this holiday season.

Explore the spectacular offerings by these eCard vendors:

3. Hot Chocolate Bomb

Who doesn’t want to savor a piping hot cocoa while curled up by the fireplace over the holiday? While the fire might not be present, a gourmet cup of hot chocolate could be! For those with crafty inclinations, making your own homemade hot chocolate bombs is memorable gift with a personal touch. With little cost and some kitchen ingenuity, you can gift the ones you care about with a sphere of milk chocolate packed with cocoa and marshmallows – delivering the best cocoa they’ve ever had. Twenty-minutes of YouTube know-how and you’re set to unleash the gift of happiness to every chocaholic on your list.

4. Host a Holiday Zoom Party

Ugly Christmas Sweater

While not traditionally a “gift”, getting together with family, friends or colleagues for some drinks, munchies and laughs is a memorable way to tap into the real meaning of Christmas – spending quality time with the ones you care about. And, there are so many great activities for virtual party-goers – Gingerbread wars with your coworkers, Christmas karaoke caroling – can you get more fun than that? Don’t forget to remind everyone that wearing an ugly Christmas sweater is essential. Visit Teambuilding for fun ideas for your virtual holiday gathering or explore a number of other options:

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

Holiday Bingo

Virtual Christmas Trivia

Gingerbread wars

Cookie Decorating Party

5. Set out on a virtual vacation

Travel plans might be temporarily on hold, but imaginations are borderless. What better time to take a Christmas vacation from the comfort of your own home. You and closest traveling companions can sit back and visit all of the destinations on your bucket list.

Mix your favourite drink and let your mouse take flight:

Get swept away in Paris, the City of Lights

Climb the hills of Machu Picchu

Explore London’s best-known spaces

Enjoy a Turkish coffee in the streets of Istanbul

Discover the richness of Rio De Janerio

Bask in the sunshine on the beaches of Barcelona

Stay up all night in New York City

Take in the natural surroundings of Alaska

Watch the live cams of the residents at the San Diego Zoo.

Paris

6. Make moments more meaningful

As we reflect on the past year, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has drawn attention to the things we cherish and miss the most – visiting friends, hugging family members or telling stories by the watercooler with co-workers. Perhaps nothing shows you care more than being able to share those memories and letting those around you know that you look forward to reconnecting in 2021. You can start by creating a sharable collage that highlights your favourite moments together.

There are several free-to-use tools that can help turn your memories into a masterpiece:

7. Commit to your community

The act of giving is a gift itself. Christmastime is an opportunity take stock of our abundance and to reflect act on the needs of others. For many of our neighbours, the impact of the pandemic has meant job losses, uncertain living arrangements and food insecurity.

This holiday season, we challenge you to make a local charity one of your gift recipients. If you are unsure where to start, here are a few suggestions:

Food Banks Canada – Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity. We support a network of Provincial Associations, affiliate food banks, and food agencies that work at the community level to relieve hunger.
Settlement Assistance & Family Support Services – assists and educates victims of abuse; support seniors; and assists newcomers and their families in the integration process to improve their quality of life, realize their fullest potential, and become contributing members of Canadian Society.
Eva’s Initiative – provides shelter, transitional housing, and programming to help young people build brighter futures free of homelessness.
Looking for other ideas? Visit CanadaHelps to select from more than 86,000 charities across Canada.

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