There’s no getting around the fact that this holiday season is going to look a little different. On the plus side, that means no small talk with the guy from accounting over a glass of warm Chardonnay at the staff holiday party. While some holiday traditions will change in response to the current pandemic, you can still plan festivities virtually.

5 ways to safely prepare for the holidays during COVID-19

Like the Grinch, even COVID-19 won’t stop Christmas from coming! Admittedly, gatherings with family and friends may have to be smaller, and we’ll have to enjoy the Santa Claus parade via Zoom – at least for this year. But, what matters most is you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.  

Here are some suggestions on how to embrace the holiday spirit from the comfort of your home.

1. Plan a virtual holiday party

While a large gathering with friends over your homemade eggnog will likely be off the table, thanks to the internet, friends, and family can still come together and celebrate. Over the last six months, most of us have adjusted to virtual work calls. Similarly, it’s easy to plan and host a holiday party remotely (although holiday get-togethers are way more fun than team meetings!).

Houseparty is a free social networking app that makes it easy to set up a video chat. The app allows you to have up to eight people in a “room” at once, and users can set up multiple rooms, meaning guests can float from room-to-room and connect with each other. Like any party, plan a time to meet and let your guests know.

You can get extra fancy and send out an evite in advance. It may not be the same as everyone cramming into your kitchen, but you’ll still be able to raise a glass of eggnog and celebrate. 

2. Put together your holiday wish list

Trust us. You’re never too old to put together a wish list for all the gifts you’d like to see under the tree. When it comes to making a list (and checking it twice), browse the Ampli app first to discover special offers with our partners like The Source and Mastermind.

Keep more cash in your back pocket and check out the latest offers and cashback under “earn.” Gifter is a free app designed to streamline your gift list and share it easily with family and friends. It even has a Secret Santa feature for group gift exchanges.

3. Take part in a cookie exchange 

One of the best things about the holiday season? Digging into freshly baked cookies and melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. If you love baking, there’s nothing stopping you from preheating the oven and dropping off treats for neighbors and friends.

Get inspo with this cookbook, 100 Cookies from The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog. For those of us not acquainted with a baking tray, you can still surprise a loved one or take part in a cookie exchange and send a box of handcrafted, oh-so-decadent cookies from Colossal Cookie Co.

4. Shop for gifts online  

This year we can expect to see more people staying away from the malls and turning to e-commerce for their holiday gift buying. Not only does shopping online mean you can do it in your PJs, but it also means no long line ups! So stock up on the latest PAW Patrol Chase Ultimate Police Cruiser for your little one at Mastermind, head to to pre-order Barack Obama’s much-anticipated memoir, A Promised Land, or give that special someone the gift of peace and quiet with a pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones from The Source.

Complimentary gift wrapping is also available at Mastermind on items for curbside pickup, and has an option when you check out, where you can add a personal message to accompany your beautifully wrapped gift. Voila! Your shopping is done.

5. Deck the halls 

Let’s face it – most of us have spent a lot of time at home this year. Which is why we think it’s even more important to spread good cheer right where you are.

The Bay has everything you need to trim the tree, from this sequin glass ornament to a Toronto raccoon Honest Ed ornament. You can also get crafty and make a DIY Christmas Ornament Wreath. String some indoor LED lights around the tree or the fireplace, pop the corn and settle in for a holiday movie marathon.

Earn cashback on holiday gifts

There’s no reason to say, “Bah humbug!” to the holidays this year. It’s easy to plan virtually for the holidays right from home. And Ampli makes it even easier!  Download Ampli and you can earn cash back when you make purchases online or in-store at partnering retailers like, Urban Barn, and H&M – all across Canada

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial, or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services is expressly given or implied by the Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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