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Your Guide to Celebrating the 2020 Holidays at Home in the Portland Area

  |  Neighborhood Insight, Portland, Your Place

It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us! While usually, that would mean large holiday parties, visits with Santa, Christmas lighting celebrations and more, the coronavirus pandemic is making us think outside the box this year.

But while the holiday season may be different, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you and your family to make it special. We rounded up a few ideas on how you can spend the holidays at home this year in the Portland area, from baking cookies to hunting for holiday light displays. Because at the end of the day, the holiday season is about creating memories with the people you love—even virtually.


Decorate to the max

While many of us started decorating for the holidays in July, there’s no harm in decking your house out with even more garland, lights and mistletoe. 2020 has been difficult, so if decorating every inch of your home for the holiday season makes you happy–go for it! Experiment with lights and music shows in your front yard; change out all your linens with gold, red and green versions; add a festive wreath to your front door; or go all out with holiday greenery this year. Not only will this fill your neighbors with some much-needed joy, it will also make you happy every time you walk in the door.


Participate in a virtual holiday event

Due to the pandemic and local social distancing mandates, it’s likely that many of our favorite in-person holiday events will be cancelled. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate virtually! Portland is actually hosting several incredible and innovative online events like virtual tree lightings, 5Ks, live-streamed concerts and so much more. Check out our list of the most anticipated holiday events in the Portland area and get to partying—at home, of course.


Make holiday cookies

Photo courtesy of Minimalist Baker

It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without cookies! Chocolate chip, sugar, gingerbread, oatmeal, we just can’t get enough of them. While you could always pick up a pack of pre-made cookie dough at the grocery store, there’s just something special about mixing the flour, sugar and eggs by hand and letting the smells waft through your home. If you’re looking for recipes, don’t miss this massive holiday cookie guide from the Minimalist Baker; these coconut oil cut out sugar cookies from Hummingbird High; or these cranberry oatmeal and star anise cookies from Dishing Up the Dirt—local bloggers that we absolutely love!


Hop on a video call with Santa

While you may not be able to visit with Santa Claus in person this year, the Internet has made it easy to connect with our favorite jolly guy even during a worldwide pandemic! JingleRing is a brand new online service that allows you and your family to book a virtual chat with Santa! For $19.95, you can receive a personalized recorded message, and $24.95 provides a fun, customized virtual experience for your whole family. Click here for all the information!


Make a commemorative ornament

If there was ever a year that required its own, commemorative ornament, it’s 2020! From Santas with face masks to toilet paper ornaments—there are plenty of ways to both celebrate and laugh at all we’ve been through this year on our holiday trees. Click here for a full list of Christmas ornament ideas that you and your family can DIY this year from Country Living Magazine!


Wrap presents

Take advantage of the extra time at home this year and go all out with your gift wrapping. Invest in some high-quality (preferably eco-friendly) wrapping paper and watch this YouTube video on the best ways to wrap your presents. Or, if you want to really customize your gifts, get some generic brown packing paper and draw your own design! Then, spend some time practicing calligraphy for your gift recipient’s name. Whether you’re planning to send these gifts off in the mail or giving them to someone in your own home, the little extra effort will go a long way!


Put together a gingerbread house

Gingerbread, gumdrops and plenty of icing—what’s not to love about an edible house made from cookies and candy? This year, break out all of your favorite sweets and get ready to build the gingerbread house of your dreams! Portland just happens to be home to one of the best gingerbread house kit companies in the country, Gingerbread Traditions. These adorable houses are actually tasty (which is hard to find with gingerbread kits these days!). Their amazing kits sell out quickly, so be sure to order yours before they’re all gone!


Watch a holiday movie

It just wouldn’t be the holidays without an annual watch of your favorite holiday movies. Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life and even Die Hard are great choices when it comes to upholding that important holiday ritual. So pop some popcorn, bake some holiday cookies, and settle in with your family to watch a few classic films! If you’re looking to add a local spin to the holiday, check out 20+ Movies and TV Shows Based in Portland, Oregon, which includes some semi-wintery movies perfect for holiday binge-watching.


Send out personalized holiday cards

Photo courtesy of Rifle Paper Co via Ecru Modern Stationer

We love everything about holiday cards. The beautiful family picture, the sometimes ugly sweaters and the kind, comforting words. And because we can’t be with everyone we love this year, sending off holiday cards to our favorite people is even more important in 2020. If you can’t do the all-out family portrait this year, opt for locally made, store-bought cards that will offer the same level of love and happiness! Head to Ecru Modern Stationer, or visit them online, to peruse their massive selection of holiday cards and other stationery goods.


Drive around your neighborhood to see Christmas lights

One of the good things that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the overwhelming sense of community. Portlanders have been constantly working to bring a smile to neighbor’s faces through chalk art, kind notes and even early Christmas lights. When you walk around your neighborhood, you’ve probably already started seeing incredible light displays but why not make an event of it one night? Fill a few to-go mugs with hot chocolate and take a drive around your subdivision at night to get the whole impact. Not only is it a fun way to pass the time, but it will also create some time-honored memories your family will cherish forever.


Set up a video call with loved ones

One of the biggest things we have missed during the pandemic is getting together with all of our family and friends. Luckily, because we live in the 21st century, it’s pretty easy to set up a virtual soirée. This holiday season, get the gang together online for a cookie baking contest; a holiday pajama party or tree decorating session. All you’ll need is a Zoom subscription and a little imagination to create an exciting event for all of your favorite people.


We hope you have an amazing holiday season!

Even though the 2020 holiday season is a bit unorthodox, we still hope you find ways to have a great time. Let us know what you’re doing to make the holidays special this year, in the comments below!

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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