Road Trips, Virtual Dinners & Safe Gatherings: How 13 Women Are Celebrating The Holidays This Year

It’s a sentiment we’ve heard ad nauseam the last couple of months: “the holidays are going to look a little different this year.” Due to the pandemic and all the safety concerns that come along with it, plenty of people aren’t celebrating the way they typically do — but that doesn’t mean the holidays are cancelled. In fact, 2020’s limitations are encouraging people all over the country to get creative with how they share the most wonderful days of the year with their loved ones.  
That’s why we partnered with Grand Marnier to speak to women all over the country about the unique ways they’re celebrating the holidays this year — whether that’s safely finding a way to see friends and family or doing virtual celebrations and creating new traditions for our new normal. 

British Christmas In Brooklyn

“We typically spend our winter holiday with my in-laws in England. This year, I’ll be staying home in Brooklyn, with my husband, kids, parents and sister. We haven't done a New York City Christmas for a while, so we are going to go all out this year because, well, why not? We are healthy, we are grateful, and we are going to celebrate! We're upgrading our Christmas decorations, getting a tree, and getting a family advent calendar to make each day leading to Christmas special. We'll still keep a bit of British Christmas in with a proper leg of lamb roast lunch with Yorkshire Pudding” — Yi-Hsian, Brooklyn

Extended Family Visit To Pennsylvania 

“I’m originally from Harrisburg, PA and will be heading back for Thanksgiving through New Years. I typically only go home for Thanksgiving, since I’m Jewish, and every year it feels lonely around Christmastime, while everyone else is with family. This year, because I started my own PR firm and everything for my job is done virtually, I can work an East Coast schedule for the next few months. Especially living by myself and as a single woman, it can get a bit lonely at times and being surrounded with my immediate family is emotionally healthy for me. I’ll be getting a COVID test a few days before I head out, to be extra cautious, and will stay quarantined until I have to fly.” — Brittany, Los Angeles

Mulled Wine Most Nights 

“During the pandemic, I’ve been trying to find ways to make each day special, or memorable in a certain way. During the spring and summer it was easier to do socially distant hangouts in the park, but now that it’s dark and cold out, I’m finding less and less motivation to leave my apartment. A neighbor suggested having a mulled wine get-together, so we threaded an extension cord from my window up to our roof, plugged in a slow cooker, and mixed together a bottle of red, a generous splash of Grand Marnier and a bunch of spices and cinnamon sticks. The drink kept us warm while we stayed distant and now I’m inviting more friends and neighbors up for one-on-one celebrations from six feet away, with a warm drink in hand!” — Beth, Brooklyn

Hiking & Takeout

“Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday of the year. I love its message of gratitude and abundance, and I love the food! For the past seven years, my tradition was to have one of my best friends visit for the weekend and we’d go to another friend’s ‘orphan’ T-Day potluck. The remaining days of the long weekend we’d spend in local explorations and just relaxing with movies at home. Sometimes those were the only times we got to spend together during the year! None of that is going to happen in 2020. The potluck host moved to Canada a few months ago and the BFF and I sadly, jointly, decided that it wouldn’t be social distancing-friendly for his train trip or my hosting him in my home. I couldn’t be more bummed! I’m a 59-year-old single woman who lives happily alone and now plans to order a delicious Thanksgiving feast from a local restaurant the day before. I’ll reheat it to enjoy after a long hike on Turkey Day. I might even have it outdoors with my hiking buddy, if she’s interested. I’ve been training for a Kilimanjaro summit that has also had to be postponed because of the pandemic.” — Jamie, San Diego

Road Trip for Two

“My husband and I normally go on vacation during this time to use up his PTO, and this year will look the same, albeit completely different! We are opting for a total socially distanced road trip through the National Parks of Utah, including the adventure that is car camping — we might freeze! It will be a little different than our normal bustling city vacations, full of human contact, flights, public transport, and hotels, but we're up for the challenge of making a vacation out of what this season has to offer.” — Katie, San Luis Obispo

International Seafood Feast

“I’m a pescatarian, so I’m planning to create a seafood fest with my family this year. My dishes are internationally inspired, to help loved ones feel like they’re traveling through their palates. I’m planning to make lobster mac and cheese, Southern-style blackened catfish with steamed collards, lemony chive potatoes, and more.” — Stephanie, Los Angeles 

Treating The Parents in Boston

"I always celebrate the holidays with my family in Boston at my parents' home. Weeks before the holidays begin, my siblings and I start planning our Thanksgiving menu — my youngest brother will do most of the shopping, and we’ll all have a hand in cooking our designated dishes. I typically make the turkey and mains, my sisters make the side dishes and desserts, and my brothers make the mac & cheese — there is always mac & cheese along with jollof rice at the table. We love to treat our parents to a holiday meal, and as soon as we arrive they vacate the kitchen for us (of course, our mum always has an abundance of our favorite homemade dishes prepared for our arrival, so we have days-worth of food to eat before the holiday). This year, we’re still planning to gather together at their house, but we’ll all be getting COVID tests done and results received before we head to Boston, to ensure that we're being as safe as possible when traveling. This year, I'll also be adding a West African-inspired charcuterie board built around my brand Egunsi Foods' Ata Din Din Sauce (which is based off my mother’s recipe), for everyone to nibble on while the main dishes are cooking.” — Yemisi, founder of Egunsi Foods, New York

Safety In Seattle

"This has been a challenging year to say the very least. My family usually takes a trip during the holidays, and it was apparent even in the summer that we would be staying put in Seattle this year. I'm not sure what to expect exactly, as things seem to be ever evolving, but my wish is to be with my immediate family and my 83-year old parents, eating delicious food, including chocolate bars and truffles, going on long bike rides in our neighborhood and the surrounding area, and celebrating even small moments of joy together. We haven't been able to see my parents for our traditional Sunday night dinners during this time, so we're preparing as best as we can for a safe gathering. I’m getting tested in anticipation of seeing them and look forward to coming together.” — Jean, owner of Seattle Chocolate and jcoco, Seattle

Pot Pie For Two (& A Pup)

"I would usually host 20+ people for Thanksgiving dinner, but this year I’ll be celebrating with homemade pot pie for two, and a pup. I’ll really miss celebrating with family and friends, but I’m going to double down on sending them care packages like homemade goodies, DIY kits, and activities. I also made a promise to myself to still cook all my favorite holiday dishes, but will just spread them throughout the season instead of packing them into one day.” — Erica, Brooklyn

Volunteering In New York

“I’ll be staying in Brooklyn instead of traveling to South Jersey to spend time with family. For Thanksgiving, I’d like to host a tented Friendsgiving that is warmed by heat lamps on my roof deck. During the Christmas holiday, I plan to donate my time and work at a local shelter preparing meals for the less fortunate.” — Christa, founder of Brooklyn Braised, New York 

Self-Care Spectacular 

“For the holidays, my plans involve anything that will make me feel good. This includes places and people. I want to round out the year with a positive experience that will serve as a transition into the new one! I splurged on a house near the ocean that's drivable and invited my closest family members over for a Christmas Eve meal and traditions like gifts and dressing up. I think at this time, we're appreciating quality time with close family in a whole new way. Life is short and being happy matters. Plus, I’m definitely doing family matching PJs Christmas night. One of my favorite things about the holidays is seeing everyone's matching pajama photos with their families afterward!” — Erika, Los Angeles

Scaled Down Turkey In Jersey

“Growing up as the youngest of five in a large Italian family, Thanksgiving was always big in my house. A few courses, about a hundred sides, a million desserts...Mom’s famous stuffing, turnips, and turkey! Over the years, as we all grew up and my sisters started having families of their own, the group became smaller, but being the baby sister, I always stayed with my mom and followed her wherever she went. This year, my mom is uncomfortable leaving her house, so she’ll be home with my brother, and my family and I will stay home and host our first Thanksgiving. I usually host over 50 people on Christmas Eve, but for our small party of five this Thanksgiving, I am a little nervous. I’ve never cooked a turkey before so I am anxious to see how it goes. At the same time, I’m also excited to try this special tradition myself. We’re lucky that my mom still plans to make her famous stuffing and turnips and send them in a care package — that’s the best part of the entire meal. I plan to recreate the same appetizer traditions, the Italian celery and antipasto, chestnuts, and an assortment of desserts. I know it won’t be the same without Mom and the rest of my family, but having her food is comforting.”  — Joann, New Jersey

Virtual Cheesegiving 

“The holidays are definitely going to be different this year, but I'll still be enjoying delicious food with my immediate family in my household, and luckily for me, I’m also able to celebrate with cheese! I'm attending a Zoom ‪dinner hosting by @Cheeselandia with 300 other cheese lovers from across the nation. I'm so excited to join. We'll be virtually visiting each other's home and celebrating Thanksgiving together, sort of like a “Friendsgiving” but with a focus on Wisconsin cheese. We’ll be swapping recipes, sharing stories, trying seasonal cheese pairings and creating festive cheese boards. It’s basically a cheese lover’s dream! Through my Insta, @charliechowsdown, I’ve been a part of this community of cheese lovers since May 2020 and every virtual event has me looking forward to meeting new friends, staying connected with other cheese lovers and learning more about cheese.” — Charlie, Tampa

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