Row Main Logo
instagram logofacebook logo
© 2020 ROW DTLA
back arrow

Holidays Are Not Cancelled

The Holidays Might Look Different This Year, But Here’s How to Make the Best of It


This story was written by our guest blogger Valerie Chen, a former travel magazine editor turned tech marketer.

I pushed my shopping cart along and headed to the next aisle on my list — only to be confronted by behemoth displays of sparkling tinsel, evergreen wreaths and technicolor candy canes.

It was early November. During any other year, I would protest the holiday season’s premature arrival with a quip about the radio’s incoming deluge of Christmas music. (Secretly, though, I would look forward to listening to Mariah Carey’s genius renditions on repeat.)

Instead, my heart sank. I haven’t hugged my parents — or anyone else outside my household — since before March. Rather than stand by my sister’s side as she exchanged vows with her now-husband in August, I watched a livestream of their micro wedding nearly 400 miles away. The reality hit me like a ton of bricks: How could we possibly gather together like in years past?

Still, ready or not, the holidays are upon us. And, by now, each and every one of us arguably has unprecedented (sorry!) experience in pivoting (sorry!) to make the best of any situation. Below are a few ideas to get you started.

Fight Through the Zoom Fatigue, Booze Optional 

Remember when the word “zoom” made your heart go boom, boom, boom (shout out to our girl Zenon of the 21st century) — instead of making you panic that an important meeting is about to start but you haven't brushed your hair in several days? Me neither.

For the holidays, though, take Zoom, FaceTime and the like to the next level by adding a clever twist. Gather friends and family to tune into Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party), which adds a group chat function to a long-distance “Elf” watch sesh. Happy hour will feel more lively with a sommelier-led wine tasting that mails an eight-bottle tasting flight to participants in advance. The whole crew can snag front-row seats to this charming Tiny Theatre Interactive Murder Mystery experience. Last but far from least, everyone can feel transported to the New Zealand countryside in the company of delightfully fluffy Corriedale sheep and lambs.

Travel Without Worrying That You’ll Miss Your Flight

Although many of us are staying put for the unforeseeable future, there are still creative ways to keep the wanderlust alive and well. 

Once in a quarantine moon, my husband and I will peel ourselves off the couch, ditch the sweatpants and plan surprise dates for each other. Back in April, we had canceled our dream trip: a once-in-a-lifetime safari vacation across Kenya and Tanzania. So, to create a safari experience in our miniscule living room/dining room/home office/fitness center, I draped scarves over a pop-up mosquito net tent and layered the spoils of my rug addiction around it. Mozzarella, our dog, very begrudgingly donned a lion’s mane, and I even tasked her animal chew toys with important roles (they stood in for the Big Five).

Fancy a trip to Paris? Arrange an artful spread of charcuterie, cheese and bread for an indoor picnic. Dreaming of Japan? Set up a DIY sushi making experience, and treat yourself to cherry-blossom-pink flowers to set the scene. Yearning for a winter wonderland by way of Switzerland? Crank up the air-conditioning, melt down the Swiss cheese for fondue and indulge in apres ski Champagne, all without the achy joints. 

Spread the Holiday Cheer to Those You Hold Dear

A little holiday cheer can go a long way, especially for friends and family who live alone during such trying times. Send a thoughtful surprise their way — or, even better, hand-deliver it if you are able and if it’s safe to do so. 

Presents don’t have to be big or extravagant to be meaningful. For example, wonderful gifts might encompass a used book with the recipient’s taste and interests in mind, a tasty homemade treat or even a simple note of affirmation. This year has also underlined the significance of countless worthy causes; why not donate to one in your giftee’s name? 

If you do wish to purchase a present, it’s more imperative than ever to patronize local small businesses. For a safe and fun shopping experience in Los Angeles, check out the Collective at ROW DTLA. And next weekend, join in on outdoor festivities at the 13th Annual Unique Markets Holiday Pop-Up, a two-day, open-air event that will showcase more than 50 small businesses.

Extend Kindness to Yourself, Too

The holiday season can be difficult to endure even in a “normal” year. Self-care — and self-preservation — is highly recommended. (By the way, I totally understand that might be easier said than done.)

For some, self-care looks like meditation or therapy. For others, it may mean putting their phone away for the weekend, instead of doomscrolling, and briefly escaping into nature. For yours truly, it’s devouring noodles for nearly every meal and binge-watching “Emily in Paris” in less than two days.

Lean into whatever self-care looks like for you. Remember, we’re all doing the best we can.

Valerie lives in Los Angeles with her partner and their rescue dog, Mozzarella. Follow her adventures and misadventures on Instagram.