Heads up Weekenders! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check with the venue(s) to determine its operating status.
With the holiday season upon us amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s tempting to jump on the couch in your most comfortable loungewear, and spend your time doing a whole lot of nothing. And after the year we’ve had, we can’t blame you!!
Photo by @insideweather | Unsplash
But staying in can be just as fun and productive as going out, with WeekenderNJ's tips to keep boredom at bay and keep your mind off the pandemic (for a moment) during this unusual holiday season. From learning new skills to feed your curiosity, or embrace your inner DIY guru, to a virtual vacation, to going on a social distance road trip in your community, to volunteering, we’ve got you covered…
New Jersey is a huge state with the most densely population - and dare we say, underrated - from vibrant art scenes, to world-class museums, to deep forests with twisting trails that make the outside world disappear. There’s the beach and boardwalks, fabulous restaurants, and heritage sites that tell our home state’s story while maintaining an evolving heartbeat.
Here is a fun list of things you can do if you’re starting to feel worn down during this holiday season.
Experience the most magic of the year this season by going on a vehicle guided tour through 32 acres of brilliant holiday light displays, warm up by the fire pit and enjoy cocoa and treats in your retail farm market. Make your own S’mores. Listen to Santa’s singing Reindeer and more.
Lakota Wolf Preserve
Ever wanted to see one or more wolves in real life? Whether you crave a wolf tour, or wildlife photography, this is something that you should do at least once. Open rain or sunshine, by online reservation only & limited to 50 people.
Friends of the Bergen County - Winter Wonderland:
The Rink at Winter Wonderland, in Van Saun Park, Paramus, New Jersey. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
If you reside in Englewood, NJ and celebrate Christmas
This year, the City of Englewood Parks and Recreation will sponsor a Christmas Decoration contest - you can enter by nominating a residence or place of business by tagging @englewoodvirtualrecreation by 12/18/2020.
Contest winners will receive a card from ShopRite.
1st Prize $100.00
2nd Prize $50.00
3rd Prize $25.00
The Christmas Tree Lighting will be live-streamed today, December 6th, 2020.
The Menorah Lighting will also be live-streamed on December 13th, 2020.
Contact Englewood City Manager's office for further details at 201.657.3678
You can also check your city/town to see what virtual events are being offered this holiday season.
Volunteer to help out in your community, build a skill, have fun & make a difference
This year, helping our neighbors and community is more needed than ever. There are so many ways you can make a difference in someone’s life. From offering to help your neighbor, a local school, or church, to offering your skill sets to someone in need. This is also a great way to restore our communities with hope and humaneness. You can also check out Madelyn Hoffman’s ‘Mutual aid New Jersey’ article published in this edition for more inspirational ways to give back to our communities.
Decorate for the Holidays
Screw it, we are going to decorate and we’re going to decorate all the way!! - If you haven’t declared Christmas during this pandemic season, it’s not too late to start. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there is something magical in tiny light strings all over your house during the dark winter nights. So, what are you waiting for?
Write to Santa
It may have been a year like we’ve never experienced before, but writing to Santa Claus hasn’t changed. The deadline is December 12th, so grab your favorite paper and color pens, or check out this cool Santa kit and write away.
Adopt a Santa letter to help a child or family
The USPS Operation Santa is open nationwide for the first time!! You can adopt a letter to help a child or family from December 4th, 2020.
Set up a Virtual Santa Visit
JingleRing - Before you say ‘no more zoom meetings,’ this one is perhaps the most entertaining virtual experience with Santa and Mrs. Claus from the safety and comfort of your home! And you can invite family & friends from around the world to join this virtual event.
If you are a Sam’s Club member with a photo account, you can book a free virtual Santa visit. Your child/ren will get to chat with Santa for five minutes, and you’ll receive a keepsake photo and video call afterwards.
Macy’s is doing an in person as well as virtual meet and greet this year. In addition to a free pre-recorded interactive video with Santa Clause himself, Macys has set up a complete Christmas magic experience. Kids can meet Santa’s elves, play Christmas games, and even take a selfie with St. Nick. Full disclosure, you don’t have to be a kid to take part in any of these festivities either. After the crazy year we’ve had, give yourself permission to rediscover the magic of Christmas.
25 Days of Christmas (@25days) launched a contest to celebrate the Home Alone 30th Anniversary. You can enter for a chance to win $5,000 here.
Whether you have kids or not, legos are perfect for keeping everyone’s mind busy and you get a cool building lego sculpture at the end. You can look up lots of different lego options online.
Old classic game board
If you’re lucky to be isolating yourself with company, embrace some old school entertainment and dust off some old board games for a light competition. However, if you decide to play Monopoly, please do so at your own risk.
Just search your favorite coasters on YouTube, and you'll likely find video footage of the ride. One of our favorites is the El Toro RollerCoaster at Six Flags Great Adventure - you can enjoy this virtual ride here.
Museums and Galleries around the world
Google Arts and Culture partnered with over2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours of their spaces. Some museums like the Newark Museum are offering virtual printmaking at home, in addition to virtual tours.
You can transport yourself to Disney parks like Disney World, Disneyland for a 360-degree tour available through Google Street View, so that you can bring a little magic into your home.
Attend or hold a virtual zoom party
Why not attend or hold a quiz zoom party with your friends, to keep up with them, have a laugh, a glass of wine or three, and make the best of (the lockdown) this new reality. You’ll need your friends, choice of drinks, some snacks, and a fun trivia game (whether homemade or bought) can always come in handy.
Be a guest on a podcast or grab a friend and start your own podcast
Do you love podcasts as much as we do? If you have something that the world should hear and learn about, why not contact a podcaster or more and ask if you can be a guest. If you are witty and have something to share with the world, then maybe it’s time you looked into making a business out of podcasting. You can start small, but first you’ll have to come up with an idea from your comfy sofa. You can also check us out our sister podcast Listen Up East Coast! - share what you care to hear or talk about, or voice as of why you want to be a guest co-host on the show.
Become a guest writer
Are you interested in writing? Well, then you’re in the right place. We welcome all folks to submit their tips or story ideas, or send original articles our way. We ask that you use our form to get in touch with us first.
Write an old fashion letter
If you have ever received a handwritten letter in the mail, then you’ll probably remember how enjoyable it was to receive something personal that was not a social media post with a GIF attached to it. Do this for your family and friends - make their day. You only need paper and an envelope, but you can also spend some time online looking for a fancy personalized letter writing set.
Learn how to do calligraphy
If you want to take it a step further and elevate your writing skills - how about looking up some calligraphy fonts online that you can learn on your own pace. You can look up a ‘calligraphy set from beginners to advanced writers’ online, ranging for all types of budgets. Here is one of our favorite calligraphy sets.
Virtual Be a Vet - kids program
If your kids love turtles, and let’s be honest - Who doesn’t? - You can sign them up for this great virtual program ranging from ages 7-11 and 12-16. You can also virtually sponsor a turtle and obtain other exciting information about this amazing organization here. The sea turtle inc., has also a great and friendly team, so it’s worth remembering for a post Cov19 bucket list travel plans.
From books you can take out from the local library, to kindle, to online reading and zoom book club meetings, to motivational online speakers and bedtimes stories. It can help you build a plan for achieving your personal, business goals, or share some Christmas magic with your whole family.
Here are a few books that we recommend during this holiday season:
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by British illustrator, artist, and author Charlie Mackesy comes a journey for all ages that explores life’s universal lessons, featuring 100 color and black-and-white drawings.
I saw Santa in New Jersey, by JD Green.
Santa's Christmas with a Mask: A fun Christmas book for children (The new normal adventure), by Divya Mohan
A Rock Solid History of Hawthorne, New Jersey: How stones play a part in this town's history, by Veronica MacDonald Ditko. This is a great book to encourage kids to get outdoors (with the new Cov-19 guidance of course and parental supervision in mind) and seek out history near them - 25% of all book sales through January 1st, 2021 will go to Mutual Passaic County, NJ. A small but dedicated group of volunteers who help families who have fallen on hard times in our community.
Pride and Prejudice: An all time classic romantic story by Jane Austin.
The Three Musketeers: A historical adventure by Alexandre Dumas.
You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life: If you’re new to self-help books, then this one may be a great start.
The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life, by Alex Trebek - Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.
Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday.
Wreck This Journal (Black) Expanded Edition by Keri Smith. - This is probably not only the one of the most unusual Journals you’ll ever see, but you may even discover your creativity. It also makes a great holiday gift.
No Justice No Peace 2020: The Movement in Black and White, by Brian Johnson - A visual documentation of the BLM protests in Northern New Jersey.
A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage by Cyndie Spiegel - Put a new and positive perspective for each day in the new calendar year.
Press Pause and Hit Play
Put on some of your favourite tunes and get dancing in your living room, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. Hairbrush microphone and karaoke kit optional.
Give yourself a manicure and pedicure
The first lockdown taught many how much the small things in life like a fresh manicure can make us feel better. From a deep hand therapy treatment, to clear nail polish, to cheat sheet nail, to at-home gel machine set. Do what makes your heart happy.
Take up a new online class or course of a subject you wanted to explore
Coursera is offering a variety of free and paid courses.
Class Central is offering ‘the best online courses of all time’ (or so they claim).
Stanford is offering free and flexible classes.
Yale is offering open courses from previous years.
Carnegie Mellon University is offering an open learning initiative for free or for a low cost.
Take a virtual tour to a landmark
Of course, most of us want to be traveling right now, but with the global pandemic…..Google’s Arts & Culture section comes in handy for virtual tours of landmarks.
Photo by Bruno Cervera
You can virtually be transported to Northern Kenya to help identify, count and track types of giraffes and other wildlife in a conservation area.
Make a travel bucket list
Look at it as an opportunity to rebuild your post COV19 travel plans. Since we didn't’ get the heads up that the world was closing down, now’s the time to revamp those traveling plans with the new world in mind. So, what’s on your new bucket list?
Whether you call yourself a star-gazer, or just curious to learn more about what goes on beyond our home planet - you can download NASA’s mobile app for free to take a virtual tour of its facilities.
Curious to track the @Space_Station? - While Airplanes fly approximately about 600 mpd, the station orbits earth at 17,500 mph and looks like a very bright star moving across the sky. You can find out when and where the station will pass overhead here.
Ever wanted to learn how to create your own art or brush up on your artistic skills? You’re in luck. Online places like drawspace.com are offering a liaison for everyone. You can also check out Bob Ross “The Joy of Painting” available for free on Pluto TV. And you can also subscribe and watch his videos here.
Learn to play an instrument
Whether you want to learn how to play the guitar, piano, flute, the drum, or are just fed up with your loud obnoxious neighbor, there are tons of free and paid lessons online such as guitar master class that offers over 2,000 guitar lessons, to guitar noise, to free YouTube channels. Seriously though, just because your neighbor has no manners, doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. Invest in some fancy headsets for noise reduction and private listening of your favorite tunes. Also don’t forget to check in with your city/town, as most likely there is a new Cov19 noise ordinance that you should be aware of.
Pick up photography
If you are an avid photography fan or new to the craft, you can pick up tips, polish existing skills and further your interest with one of the many online free or paid photography classes.
Learn a Language
While there are many free online classes where you can learn a language of your choosing, we recommend Duolingo. If you want to brush up on a language you may do so while watching a foreign movie online, such as on Amazon, YouTube, Netflix and other streaming services.
Hone your cooking skills
This is a skill that will need very little investment. You can find free cooking classes online, from YouTube, to Roku (PlutoTV), Instagram, to books for every appetite. Even better, go ahead and bake some cookies - this season we have been baking Linzer Tarts and you can too by following these easy instructions.
Binge watch a new or old TV series
Binge watching a show or movie you always wanted to watch, but never found the time for, can be a healthy and calmly escape. And there are lot’s of streaming services offering anywhere from 3 to 30 days free trials, so take a moment and explore a new streaming service and TV show or movie you’ve always wanted to watch.
Let’s face it; the current crisis continues to make us feel strange, stressed, and emotionally exhausted. Moving doesn’t just help you keep fit, it can also help with your mental and gut health. Here are a few things that you can do from home:
Cleaning out our closet, or just using household objects as weights. Let your imagination guide you.
Signing up for ‘The Body Coach TV’ with Joe - with over 2 Million subscribers and over 7Million viewers to his workouts, this may be a great way to stay active from home.
Virtual fitness classes for all types of likes, are available from Amazon to YouTube. What are you waiting for?
Yoga for beginners - while there are tons of different classes for all, we recommend Yoga for beginners with Adriene - her yoga online sessions have been watched over 35 Million times and may be a great way to start practicing that yoga you kept putting off.
Head outdoors based on the weather - you can go for a quick walk in the park, nature center, or just around the block. Even if it’s for a few minutes. It can do wonders for your well being.
Tai Chi - easy for beginners - this is one daily exercise we swear by. And it’s only about 5 minus a day. So, why not give it a try?
Exercise Resistance Bike: This compact bike is the best thing you can own if you live in an apartment. And convenient too.
Declutter your home
No, we are not going to talk to you like we became clean up experts, although some of us could qualify for this title after the last lockdown.
Why not put on your favorite songs or podcast and start cleaning up. From the kitchen - eliminate duplicate pans, to your closet - if it doesn’t fit, or if you haven’t worn it since College, then perhaps it’s time to let go. This is also a great way to take a mental break and tune out the world for a bit.
While Broadway may not be back prior to Spring 2021, New York City is offering a variety of virtual Broadway experiences. You can check them out here.
Some zoos and aquariums may be closed for the time being, but that doesn’t mean you and your family can’t get your daily dose of animals.
Here are a few virtual / and in person zoo trips for some a fun learning experience:
Cohanzick Zoo - currency offering in person zoo trips with social distancing. Check out their website for more information.
Adventure Aquarium - offers virtual kids activities.
Call someone who’s lonely
The chances are you’re not the only one who’s self-isolating and your family, friends, elderly people will appreciate a friendly phone call or text message to let them know you're thinking of them.
New Year’s Eve. New Hopes.
Just because New Years eve is different this year, doesn’t mean that it can’t be just as festive, glamorous, celebratory and meaningful as past years, right at home.
Make a toast. Whether it’s a moment of reflection and reset, or a handwritten card you’re sending to loved ones, take time to say thank you to the people who matter most.
Take a deep breath in and slowly breath out. After a whirlwind year of chaos, horror, angst…doing nothing may be exactly what you need. Take a few moments to reflect on the past and then look towards the future. Everyone has different dreams about their lives….what are yours? Write down your resolutions.
Indulge in some me time - whether you wash away the past by taking in a nice long soak in the bath, a facemask, or meditating. Take a few minutes to do what makes your soul happy.
What’s New Year’s Eve without glitter decorations? - You can place an order for some glittery decorations such as this one here.
Make a festive dinner
Whatever your food of choice is, there are tons of free online recipes for any types of taste and cooking skills. Make sure to also have some store bought or baked yummy snacks, a drink of your choice, and some favorite songs to make your cooking experience more enjoyable. Even better, e-invite your favorite people for a zoom cooking party. Perhaps your mom, dad, grandmother, or grandfather can finally share their favorite recipes with you.
New Years Eve
Whether you dress up or spend it in your favorite PJ’s, grab your favorite bubbly, and join a video call with family and friends and usher in 2021 - from a movie watch party, a fun virtual game, or a fun memory lane, don’t forget to make an awesome toast to ring in the new year with gratitude and hope.
New Year morning. New You.
Start your new year's day with new positive affirmations, such as with a ‘90 day Happiness Mindful Gratitude Journal for everyone!, by author Joe Segal. You can get yours here.
New Years Brunch.
While brunch is the best meal - New Years morning brunch is a festive dish and you may want to include one or a couple mimosa’s. It’s never too early for mimosas on New Years day!!
Make a memory jar
This is something fun to do, whether solo or for a family. Everytime something incredible happens write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. You can include pictures, and other fun momentos like cards, or e-tickets. On New Years eve, you can open the jar and take a walk down the memory lane prior to writing your new resolutions for the next calendar year.
Read the best independent media community journal
We’ve been working from our homes throughout the quarantine, dedicated to connecting our communities, producing content that is helpful, creative, and uplifting, in a bid to provide much-needed positivity and assistance during all the difficult news around us. You can head to our main page, subscribe to WeekenderNJ for our regular free monthly issue, connect with us on our official social media accounts, say hello to us, and join our neighbors by sharing your stories with our community.