Christmas is one of the — if not the — biggest holidays of the year for Pinoys. Typically, it’s the season of family reunions, huge parties, and travel, but things will be different this year.
While everything may be far from normal right now, that doesn’t mean that this Christmas can’t be festive and meaningful. After all, the holidays aren’t about material gifts; your presence, time, and care are more than enough to make this season feel bright and full of cheer. You can stress about getting the perfect presents for your loved ones, but remember that your company alone is more than enough. Here are some ways to create new memories with loved ones this holiday season.
Hold a family/barkada donation drive
It’s the season of giving and there’s no better way to do it than reaching out to someone in need. The recent typhoons that hit the country have affected millions of our kababayans. Many have been displaced, their sources of income destroyed. If you’ve been meaning to declutter Marie Kondo style, this is your sign to do it. There’s no use keeping things that no longer bring you joy!
Dedicate an entire weekend for your family and friends to clear out your closets, bookshelves, etc. of things that you no longer need. By freeing up space, you not only make your home neater but also make another family’s Christmas warmer. Also, there are plenty of donation drives you can participate in, whether you want to give monetary or in-kind donations.
The Pinoy Christmas experience isn’t complete without caroling. After all, nothing spreads Christmas cheer quite like an impromptu doorstep mini-concert! Do you remember when you and your friends used to go from one house to another to serenade the neighbors? Just like office work and school, you can make this tradition virtual as well.
This isn’t entirely new; musicians and concerts have been going online since the start of the quarantine. But online caroling can be a fun twist to the usual Aguinaldo-giving during family reunions. It can be a great fundraising activity too, as many typhoon-stricken families are still in need of help. Because Pinoys love feeling jolly and Christmas songs (we even play them as early as September), it’s a great way to have fun while staying connected to loved ones.
Send your love via care packages
You might be spending the holidays far from family or friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shower them with love. Show a loved one you remember or care for them by sending a care package, complete with snacks, some self-care items, a handwritten letter, or an item that simply reminds you of them.
If you’re the crafty kind of person, you can go ham and have fun with the packaging, filling up the box with confetti, potpourri, etc., and wrapping it up in something pretty. It may take some effort to put these things together, which makes the gesture of a sending care package such a sweet and thoughtful one.
Monito and Monita but with a twist
Yes, you can still keep your exchange gift tradition alive, even in 2020. It’s time to take notes of your friends’ or family’s wish lists; maybe you can stalk them on social media too (because we all drop hints like that). But if you’re the kind of person who always has a difficult time deciding what to give your monito/monita, you might want to give “Conspiracy Santa” a go.
This exchange gift “game” basically follows the usual drawing of names but this time, the whole group would discuss or “conspire” via email about the best gift one person from the group would receive. If you always have a hard time figuring out what to give your friends, this is for you!
You could also agree that you won’t buy anything for each other, but instead, gift things you don’t need anymore, like an unused Bluetooth speaker you won as a prize at an office raffle or an unread book from the pile you’ve collected. (Who knew that reading and buying books are two different hobbies?) It’s another way to free up space and it’s also budget-friendly!
Make your own Christmas decorations
Pinoys have the longest Christmas season; some begin hanging up colorful twinkling lights as early as September and keep Christmas decorations up until January for the Feast of Three Kings. (Some even keep them up longer than that — if this is you, don’t worry, we’re not judging.)
Just because this will be a different sort of Christmas doesn’t mean you have to skimp on decor; you don’t even have to spend a lot to make your home look festive!
It’s time to bring out last year’s decorations from the bodega and reuse them. Your mom might even have decorations from when you were a kid! As a fun project, you can also make your own decorations from things you already have around the house: garlands made of crepe paper, paper mâché figurines, clay Christmas tree ornaments, or your own take on the classic parol using old Coca-Cola bottles. Don’t let old bottles go to waste!
Bake Christmas treats
If you haven’t hopped on the baking train yet, the holidays are the perfect excuse to experiment in the kitchen and come up with your family’s next heirloom recipe. Baking may be challenging, but it can be less daunting when you receive helping hands from your loved ones, so make it a whole family affair. It’s a perfect activity to spend quality time with your loved ones (you can also do this virtually!).
Not only will baking level up your culinary skills, the baked treats also make for great presents. What Christmas treat would you like to try this year: gingerbread cookies, Christmas biscuits, or snickerdoodles? There’s so much to choose from!
Make mealtimes a celebration
Some of the most meaningful conversations and memories are made over food — from the kitchen to the dining table. Pinoy salu-salos are always memorable: it’s where we catch up with family, get nostalgic over stories from our childhoods, and craft big ideas and plans for the future, whether it’s for the next family celebration or a new business venture. Make it a point to put your phone away during mealtimes so you can be fully present, because trust us, these moments with the whole family will become some of your most cherished memories.
You don’t have to wait for noche buena to enjoy a memorable meal. Start involving everyone in the food prep so that you all come to the meal feeling a proud sense of togetherness. Then, pair your meal with a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola, which makes even the simplest of meals feel special.
This year, Coca-Cola brings the festivities to their packs with a special parol design in cans and 1.5 and 2L bottles, symbolizing togetherness and hope.
Basta’t kapiling ka, masaya ang Pasko
Despite the many challenges we faced this 2020, one clear lesson we can take from this extraordinary Christmas is that the holidays are not about the gifts or parties; it’s about our presence. Let’s give the gift of our time and attention to our family, friends, and loved ones. So pour yourself a glass of Coca-Cola, put on some holiday tunes, get on a Zoom call, and just let yourself enjoy the Christmas feels. After all, being able to spend the holidays with family safely at home is the biggest gift of all.
How are you spending the holidays this year? Share with us below!