How to Spread Joy This Holiday Season


Welcome. Late November, shorter days and colder weather, but the “hustle and bustle” we associate with the arrival of the holidays is absent this year. In its place, more time at home, more cooking for many of us, watching screens, phone calls and texts, ordering provisions, lying low.

We tend to associate holiday cheer with crowds: family gatherings, teeming sidewalks, waiting in line at shops and malls, company parties packed with revelers. This year, of course, we’re doing it differently, spreading joy creatively. Here are some of the ways readers of At Home told us they’re keeping their distance but still finding ways to connect.

  • Linda in Austin is giving virtual neighborhood tours: “We drive to another neighborhood and shoot pictures of flora, fauna, yard art, architecture, and fun signs (think politics and lost pets) and put the ‘tour’ on Facebook for our friends to enjoy. These tours give us our exercise and some fun looking around our town at places we haven’t been in a while. Occasionally we accidentally or intentionally walk by a friend’s house and they step out to wave.”

  • Claire in Florida is making and giving away sweets: “It started as stress-baking, but soon escalated to personalized deliveries to my friends! From homemade croissants to cinnamon rolls and more, I’ve taken requests and distributed them at many doorsteps. Always good to have a little something to look forwards to, and always wonderful to make someone’s day!”

  • Maureen in Massachusetts is connecting with old friends: “I was cleaning out my garage when I came across a carton containing high school memorabilia. Among diplomas, awards and notebooks, were 5-by-7-inch senior photos of my best friends with long inscriptions to me about our friendship and about the fun times we shared together during our four years in school. I sent the photos off to each one of them, and was happy to receive texts back saying what a laugh they had looking at themselves at eighteen, and reading their heartfelt comments. We are all now 75 and have been reconnected through the extra time Covid has given us.”

  • Laura in Montclair, N.J. is harvesting seeds: “ I have three large bronze fennel plants that I planted to attract swallowtail butterflies. This summer I had a ton of gorgeous caterpillars on them, and many butterflies and bees so they were a pollinator favorite, which of course, means many seeds! I’ve shared them on a seed exchange here in my town, mailed them to friends around the state, in Philly and in N.Y., and am prepping a batch to send to a friend in Italy. They can be saved to plant next spring

    or used for cooking.”

  • Bethany in Pittsburgh is sending joy by mail: “I have been sending postcards to family, friends and acquaintances who (pre-pandemic) I would regularly see in social circles. Hoping to catch recipients by surprise and let them know that I miss them and they cross my mind.”

  • And Diana in Phoenix is looking after community cats: “I have been both finding and spreading joy by feeding and otherwise looking after a small group of cats that lives at a community garden where I rent a raised bed. These guys are blissfully unaware of the mess humans have made of the world. They are unerringly cheerful. Each day when I arrive at the garden, the cats come bounding toward me with excited meows and raised tails. They rub around my legs as I’m preparing their food bowls. I haven’t been working at a job since the beginning of the pandemic, so I consider this outing to the garden my new daily commute. Taking care of these cats gets me out of the house and out of my own head.”


Thanksgiving is next week. How have you altered your traditions for this particular holiday season? What creative ways have you discovered to spread cheer or otherwise continue your favorite holiday customs? Write to us: [email protected]. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ways for finding joy at home appear below. See you on Friday.

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