Week 8: Home for the Holidays Staff Picks: Last Chance to Win!

It’s the last batch of staff recommendations for our Safe at Home for the Holidays challenge before Christmas. So we’re turning Santa’s giftbag upside down and dumping all the Christmas-themed ideas we’ve received here, for you to vote on our winners, who will receive Amazon gift cards and other prizes.

Without delay, then, the nominees:

For families with children

From MOS care manager Bao Her:

“Last year, I vowed to create Christmas traditions as a mother of two young children. I hosted my first sugar cookie decoration get-together with extended family with hopes to carry this on year-after-year. While this year is different, my family and extended family will be baking sugar cookies in our own homes on Christmas eve and connecting over video. I’d like to suggest this activity to any family with small children, whether you choose to celebrate with your own children, or with others via video-call. Here’s how it works:

 Sugar Cookie Bake Together: Share a sugar cookie recipe with one another—here’s my all-time favorite. (You can send household decorative sprinkles or cookie cutters to get them motivated and excited.) Then connect over FaceTime, Google Hangouts (free), or Zoom on a scheduled date. Once you’re all together, bake the sugar cookies and decorate! To spice up this activity, offer a best cookie, or best effort award and mail the winner a small gift afterwards. You may always choose to create a batch for neighbors to spread the love. 😊

 The first of many ideas from MHC executive assistant Ranshu Malini:

“Christmas crafting: For little ones who get high on sugar intake and get stir-crazy, get on Zoom together and teach them how to make paper snowflakes or DIY Christmas ornaments. A quick Pinterest search of ‘Christmas crafts 2020’ will give you tons of ideas to get started.”

Tara Keneally, MOS office manager, has two ideas:

“Whether it is simply taking a walk to see the lights in your neighborhood or going to a drive-through light show, holiday lights are a great way to get in the spirit of Christmas. We are fortunate in SoCal to have many drive-through light show options available to us, including one at Raging Waters in San Dimas.”

“Looking for fun activities with my godchildren ages 8 and 13, I found these gems: Holiday Mad Libs and holiday-themed Would You Rather. We had so much playing these last night.”

Here’s another endorsement for San Dimas’s light show from Amy Averweg, manager at Masonic Outreach Services:

“This year my son’s school’s PTA shared a map of holiday lights throughout the city  of San Dimas to drive by and enjoy from a distance. They call this event the Merry & Bright Night Light Drive Event. We make hot chocolate and bundle up and then drive with the windows down. We—my immediate family from the same household—play Christmas music and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the holiday season. There is also a mailbox set up that you can drive through and drop off your letter to Santa. It definitely helps to bolster the Christmas spirit!”

For families with seniors

Ranshu Malini offers several ideas:

“Cookie-decorating virtual holiday party: This virtual any-holiday party requires attendees to either bake cookies or purchase plain ones to decorate. You can provide sugar cookie and decorating icing recipes along with a convenient ingredient list a couple of weeks prior to your cookie decorating virtual party. Keep the conversation going while everyone decorates their cookies. You can tell jokes, share stories, and interact the same way you would with an in-person party.”

 “Ornament-Making Virtual Party: An ornament-making virtual party can be lots of fun even for guest who aren’t crafters. Select an ornament you can make as a group. You’ll want to time the process prior to your party to ensure you have enough time to create it. Send each guest a list of supplies needed. Wait until your party to provide the instructions. Have guests share their progress as you work.”

 “Christmas Card Competition: Speaking of creative virtual Christmas party ideas, this one can get some serious laughs. Before the party, invite your guests to try and make the best/funniest Christmas card they can. It can be as elaborate or simple as they like and can include pretty much anything. Very little graphic design skills are necessary for this one as there are some great, free tools out there, including Canva  (a tool that gives you heaps of templates, backgrounds, Christmas icons, and Christmasy fonts to make a card within minutes) and PhotoScissors (a tool that helps you cut faces out of photos super easily and download them for use in Canva). Get your guests to present their crafted creations during your virtual Christmas party. If you want to turn up the heat, you can promise prizes for the top-voted answers.”

 For families and friends at a distance

 Here’s one from Thu Vo of Masonic Outreach Services:

“Every year, we have a tradition on Christmas Eve. My family–four households from different cities—would gather at my uncle’s house in Lodi. Each family would bring a dish or dessert to share. After we eat, we would hold a White Elephant gift exchange (sometimes called Secret Santa Stealing), followed by another game called the Saran-Wrap Ball Game. Afterwards, the kids would open gifts and the adults would dance and do karaoke. This year, we won’t be gathering at my uncle’s house, but this will not stop the fun games, or celebrations. My family and I will be using Facebook Messenger or FaceTime to connect and show off our table full of yummy dishes and desserts. We’ll all eat at a scheduled time, talking and laughing just like we are right next to each other. Afterwards, we will play virtual Christmas Bingo and Vietnamese Charades. Then at the very end, each family will take turn singing karaoke while other families watch, listen, and enjoy. Then, the kids can finally open gifts.”

From Ranshu Malini:

“Progressive Holiday Story Creation: This is a creative game that becomes a story. It’s a hodge-podge story that is often nonsensical because it has no real plotline. That’s what makes it fun. Be sure to use the record feature on Zoom since this game usually ends up being very funny. After your party, you can type up the story and send it to each guest for a keepsake. Here’s how it works: Assign each person a number. Then state the theme of the story, such as ‘Santa’s Workshop the Day before Christmas Eve.’ Then ask each person to write two sentences on a piece of paper based on that theme. You’ll start the story with two sentences you prepared earlier. Call out number one and let that person read their two lines, followed by number two, and so on. You will provide the last two sentences to end the story.”

Thanks everyone! We’ll announce the winners later this week!

Resources for Staying Healthy

As you likely know, much of California is now in the most-restrictive “purple” tier of shutdown, with stay-at-home orders in place. For official guidance about staying healthy this holiday season, please visit these sites to stay up-to-date:

State of California Holidays and COVID-19

Alameda County COVID-19 Main Website

Los Angeles County COVID-19 Main Website

San Francisco County COVID-19 Main Website

Center for Disease Control Holiday Guidelines

For the latest news about the Masonic Homes and COVID-19, including employee policies, visit the Masonic Homes website or the Acacia Creek Website.