9 Ways People Are Finding Joy This 2020 Holiday Season

published Dec 22, 2020
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In the midst of the holiday season and as 2020 comes to a close, it’s imperative that we remember the power of joy in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s the type of joy that lasts days and comes with careful planning or joy that arrives out of nowhere and fades within a minute, finding moments of delight during a tragic year is essential. This is especially the case during the 2020 holiday season, when many will not be able to see loved ones due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Little bits of joy can serve as a reminder that there is still good to balance the bad. 

To celebrate the heartwarming stuff, and to provide you with ideas for creating your own happiness this holiday season, we reached out to nine individuals with the following question: What is bringing you joy this holiday season? We purposefully left the question broad because holiday bliss doesn’t have to come in the form of a perfectly packaged present. It can be an activity that allows us to create for friends and family, a movie that evokes holiday nostalgia, or the simple sounds of wintertime togetherness. This is how nine people are finding joy this year.

Familiar Christmas Movies 

“I like to take the quiet time to watch as many [Christmas movies] as I can before Christmas Day. Every year, I watch The Holiday, The Family Stone, and any Christmas movie with a secret prince who falls in love with a commoner.” Keah Brown

A Christmas Tree Angel 

“The item that brings me joy—especially during the holiday season and especially since we will be away from my family due to COVID—is an angel. On my son’s first Christmas, my mom bought all of us the same Christmas angel to place on the top of the tree. She has a sash that says ‘Peace On Earth,’ and don’t we all need a little bit more of that during this time? It is one of my favorite things during the Christmas season.” Nikita Banks

Credit: Ryan Bonilla

Painting for Friends and Family 

“I am enjoying having a studio at home where I make paintings and drawings for family, friends, and collectors. I feel so blessed to be able to make works of art for their homes, adding more color and joy to their lives during these times.” –Maria de Los Angeles

Documenting Family Recipes 

“One holiday activity I’m turning to is actually something I do all the time: cooking and asking my mom or relatives for family recipes. I do recipe development for a living, but being intentional about documenting certain holiday dishes or trying different iterations of them makes me happy and at ease.” Karla T. Vasquez 

A Holiday Pajama Night

“Holiday pajamas always bring me joy during the holiday season. After a day of work and errands, it’s nice to return home and be able to change into a cute, cozy holiday set, make a cup of hot cocoa, and cuddle up with a loved one to watch a holiday movie. This type of night warms my heart just thinking about it!” Heather Holyan

Credit: Alec Perez

Mariah Carey’s Christmas Album

“A record player and vinyl of Mariah Carey’s 1994 modern-day Christmas album Merry Christmas brings me the most joy. … Mariah Carey’s Funko figure [also brings me joy]. All were Christmas gifts from my best friends!” Alec Perez

Family Workouts

“I’ve recently become a devout Peloton member and, honestly, their workouts bring the most joy to me. We even do them as a family. … My building has multiple [bikes], so we’ll spin together or do a strength class together. I live in the same building as my sister and mother, so we’ve been able to be together during quarantine.” Jake Cohen

Perfecting Chocolate Chip Cookies 

“One holiday activity I’m turning to for joy is learning to perfect the DoubleTree Hotel chocolate chip cookie recipe. Each time I make them, they’re a tad different, but I think I’m getting close!  Something about the smell of fresh baked goods makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a new level of adulthood and fills our duplex with warmth and coziness.” Mallory Browne

Playing Records on an Antique Victrola

“This holiday season, I’m finding comfort and joy in music. In a year when nothing seems to feel normal, I’ve found music still does. Growing up, we always listened to jazz during the holidays; Christmas sounded like Ella and Louis and Nina. The first Christmas I shared with my husband, we sat on the porch of an abandoned Victorian farmhouse while we listened to records on his antique Victrola, watched the rain, and ate tea and scones. When the weather turns cold and gray over our forest house, we still like to pick out a random record, wind up the Victrola, and let the crackles of the records blend with the crackles of the fire.” AJ Hawkins

The Home for the Holidays vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn editorial teams and generously underwritten by Cointreau.