The Jelly List: Four ways to keep the holiday spirit despite the pandemic

Whenever the calendar turns towards the -BER months, around the same time when we Pinoys start to feel (or imagine!) that the breezes are getting cooler, and we start hearing Christmas carols on continuous loop in the malls, we also get all caught up in the anticipation for fun and festivities of the holiday season.

Those are all just part of the holiday spirit.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world, the loss of loved ones due to the sickness, the closure of many businesses and unemployment of many workers, can it still be Christmas?

My answer: yes, of course!

We Pinoys love Christmas so much that we won’t let COVID-19 cancel the holiday that brings hope and joy to everyone.

This holiday season, because of the restrictions to mobility or limitations on budget brought about by the pandemic, we won’t be traveling to places in our bucket list, gathering in boisterous families with our clan, nor squeezing into crowded malls for our Christmas shopping. But we can still have a merry – and even more meaningful – Christmas in this time of COVID-19.

Here are some ways to go about this:

1) Spend wisely

Given all the financial uncertainty that many of us are facing, now is not the time to splurge. Your Christmas bonus or aguinaldo may be needed for some unexpected expenses later on.

That said, you can still get a bit of holiday retail therapy done if you employ a bit more effort or creativity.

Prioritize buying the essentials – such as food, clothes and health products – but look for great deals. For instance, Shopee’s 11.11-12.12 Big Christmas Sale includes Php1 deals on selected fashion, self-care and stationery items which users can enjoy during the period leading up to December 12.

Shopee 11.11-12.12 Christmas Sale

You can also find ways to buy what you need without having to shell out cash. Your loyalty points may already have accumulated to a sizable amount that you can use them to purchase items. Case in point: I once bought over Php1,000 worth items from Miniso using my BDO Rewards points.

2) Be together, while staying apart.

One of the most difficult adjustments that this New Normal has brought about is the need for physical distancing. Especially among us Pinoys who are naturally outgoing and affectionate to our loved ones, being physically separated can be quite stressful.

While technology can’t take the place of a loved one’s actual physical presence, some small acts of thoughtfulness can chase away the feelings of isolation.

Our seniors, being high-risk individuals, bear most the brunt of these physical restrictions. Confined to their homes for months now, they can’t go out to stretch their legs or chat with their amigos and amigas. Be sure to check in on them regularly and cheer them up by sending pictures or video clips of the mundane yet happy moments that occur everyday, My mom, for instance, really appreciates when my kids video-chats with her via FB messenger.

Since the barkada can’t physically get together for a round of drinks, how about holding an e-numan sesh over Zoom? Send a ready-to-grill pack of barbecue or isaw from Mang Ding’s to your friends before the sesh to go with your favorite drinks while having your virtual bar hangout.

Mang Ding’s Marikina

You can also make and share a Spotify playlist of your favorite songs from childhood with your friends so you can all reminisce about the hits from the past as well as share a laugh over your collective taste in music.

The key is to share a happy and memorable experience even while staying physically apart.

3) Give gifts that keep on giving.

For many of us, budget is pretty tight, even during the holiday season. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t show our love for our family and friends through gifts. In fact, a well-chosen gift that takes the needs of the recipient into consideration, especially during this time, will be greatly appreciated.

For instance, rather than giving the usual gift baskets or knick-knacks, gift your friends with groceries, care packs or hygiene kits instead. These are supplies that they will no doubt need in the coming days so by giving them as gifts, you are eliminating something from their to-buy list, thus saving them money and effort.

You can also choose to send gifts that support small businesses such as online food sellers that offer family trays of Filipino dishes or new bakers that offer boxes of monster-sized cookies. These thoughtful food gifts save the recipient from the hassle of preparing a meal or indulges their cravings.

Alpha’s Kitchen Home Delivery

Extra Butter

How about gifting a loved one with a present made by your own hands? If you’ve taken up crocheting or knitting as a quarantine pastime, now would be a good time test your skills with some bespoke projects for your friends. If you’re among the plantitas or plantitas who sprouted during the lockdown, give your friends a cutting or a pot of your plants that they can have their own plant-babies to nurture in the coming year.

4) Share the love.

While life under COVID-19 may be hard on us, we know that other people may have been harder hit by the pandemic. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, you can still find ways to share your blessings to those in need.

For instance, if you’ve recently emptied out and reorganized your closets for the New Normal, you may have a lot of old clothes that can be donated to charities.

You can also use your loyalty points to give to charity. For example, you can redeem your GrabRewards points to donate to WWF, Red Cross, Unicef and more.

The pandemic may continue to wreak havoc in our lives well into the holiday season and even beyond. But it is up to us to keep that flicker of Christmas cheer burning despite all the challenges and difficulties of 2020, not just for our own enjoyment, but more importantly, to spark hope for others.

Happy holidays, dear readers! Stay safe!

Check out my other adventures compiled into Jelly Lists:

Tips for organizing your home for the New Normal

It has now been several months into the quarantine, and many of us, albeit reluctantly, have found ourselves making adjustments to cope with our New Normal.

A huge part of our new reality is that we are spending more and more of our time at home. Being the space that is wholly under our control, the home has become our safe zone, a refuge from the many risks and dangers from the outside world.

If you haven’t re-organized your home since the start of the quarantine, you might want to think of doing that now. We may be stuck in our current predicament for a long while yet; the sooner our personal environments are set up to be useful in the New Normal, the better off we will be.

Basic principles

The good news is that the basic principles of home organization still applies, albeit with a few tweaks.

Eliminate the non-essentials.

Non-essentials are items that currently have no clear use or purpose in our current situation. These basically clutter up our spaces and leave little room for us to move around to do our work or accommodate what’s actually important.

Look through your belongings and see what things you may have no use for in the coming months such as cosmetics, office attire, formal and travel wear and more.

Items that belong in this category can either be thrown out, or donated to someone who might be able to use them.

Find the proper home for each essential item.

Items that have a clear use and purpose should be housed or stored in areas that maximize their utility.

Also remember: out of sight, out of mind. An item that’s deemed useful but cannot be found when it’s needed is not really useful at all. It would be advisable to store essential items in such a way that they can be easily seen and obtained when needed.

Organize according to how you live.

Don’t rearrange your stuff in a vacuum. Consider how you and everybody else in your household move around and use your spaces.

Items that are placed well out of reach of those who need them, or areas seemingly made inhospitable to some family members because of how they are arranged, will become wellsprings of resentment later on.

Consider as well how some things just logically go together. Group together items that have similar functions and house them near the areas where they are used most frequently.

Establish and maintain the organization system.

Once you’ve tidied up and created well-organized spaces, you need to maintain them. Agree with your household members on which item goes where, how to keep everything neat, and how often to do major and minor cleanups.

From time to time, you will need to check if your system for organizing your spaces and belongings is still working for you. It may need to be adjusted as your situations change whether as a result of the quarantine or other factors.

Each room’s purpose

To apply these principles to the various rooms in your home, you should think hard on what purpose you will assign to each room especially in the New Normal, then design and arrange the room’s layout and contents accordingly.

Bedroom

The bedroom should be a place to rest and regain one’s strength at the end of the day. It should be a haven for you where you can spend the slow and quiet hours for rest or reflection.

Organizing Your Home During Quarantine

To have a bedroom that serves as the relaxing spot where you can slow down and recover from the day’s challenges, keep the area around the bed, especially the floors and the nightstand, free of items that do not contribute to having a restful experience. Stow away items in your dresser or under the bed to improve the flow of the room. Having a couple of indoor plants will also add some spots of color and life to the space.

Closet

Many of us have the tendency to just stash our stuff in our closet and hope that we can find them when we need them. Seldom does this work, however, and we end up wasting precious time and energy searching for a piece of clothing buried beneath piles of other clothes.

As the central repository of your clothes, your closet determines how you present yourself to the outside world. It should, therefore, equip you with what you need to wear, depending on the season and situation. This will not be possible with a disorganized closet.

Organizing your home during quarantine

As you regularly update your wardrobe throughout the year, so should you also be decluttering and arranging the contents of your closet. Group similar clothes together and consider tossing out those that are too worn to be presentable, or ones you haven’t worn for the past year. Especially now, when you may be working from home, items such as formal blazers and suits may just be using up space in your closet. Consider placing them on storage or tossing some out to free up space for clothes more suitable for our current situation.

Kitchen

Given all the lockdown restrictions on dining out, as well as our reduced food budgets, many of us are cooking and baking at home nowadays. Some have even begun to sell food online as a business. To help us in preparing food that nourishes our family or brings money to our pockets, we need to have our kitchen items in order.

Organizing Your Home During Quarantine

Check out the food stored in your pantry and refrigerator for those past their expiration date. Toss out utensils and equipment if you already have something to replace them such as old measuring spoons or worn out egg beaters. Remember: your kitchen drawers are prime real estate when it comes to storage so they should contain items that are ready to be used everyday.

Dining Room

The lockdown, in a way, has provided households and families with more opportunities to share meals. Such times are welcome instances for everyone to catch up on each other’s activities and enjoy each other’s company.

Organizing Your Home During Quarantine

The dining room, therefore, should be a place that encourages sharing and conversation. The dining table and chairs, for example, should be clear of items that are not needed during mealtimes. When meals are served, the items on the table top should be within easy reach of family members. When mealtimes are done, all dishes, utensils and linens should be cleared away as well.

Living Room

With more family members spending more time at home, the living rooms has been seeing a lot more action. This area is sometimes made into a makeshift classroom, or the family’s home theater for movie nights. What’s important is that this should be a space for family members to comfortably congregate and spend time together.

Organizing Your Home During Quarantine

To achieve a family living space that’s welcoming and relaxing, make sure the space is free-flowing and clutter-free. Get rid of papers or knick-knacks that may have accumulated on the console table and other flat surfaces. Organize the cords under the TV and other devices by clipping them together. Utilize the space behind a sofa by placing a trunk to store throw pillows or a low bookcase to showcase the family’s book and movie collection. Move furniture around to free up floor space and improve the flow of movement around the room.

Home Office

Now that more people are working or learning from home, we are realizing the importance of setting aside space where we can think and concentrate on our work.

Organizing Your Home During Quarantine

As usually directed to us in our offices or classrooms, our workstations at home should also be kept neat and uncluttered. Plus, we also need to tidy up the surrounding areas to have presentable backgrounds for our video calls just in case we haven’t set up fake ones in Zoom.

As our primary base of operations, our homes should be set up to support our goals and activities as we all adjust to living in a postCOVID19 world.

How do you plan to re-organize your home for the New Normal?

Photo credits: Header (Jason Briscoe), Kitchen (Naomi Hebert), Bedroom (Shop Slo), Closet (JamestheThomas5), Dining Room (Danill Silantev), Living Room (Patrick Perkins) and Home Office (Isabel Achison) on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links.

Pinoy Bloggers take on The New Normal

It has been more than three months since the pandemic has essentially turned our worlds upside down.

As we waited for quarantines to be lifted and restrictions to be loosened, many of us found ourselves willing time to hurry up so things can get back to normal.

But we can’t really go back to the way things used to be, right? Not when the threat of COVID-19 or any future communicable health risk still looms.

Hence, the emergence of The New Normal. While businesses re-open and people are more frequently moving about, the following principles still apply:

  • Increased importance of personal hygiene
  • Practice of physical distancing
  • Focus of all activities in the home
  • Transition of most interactions to digital

To help ease the way towards The New Normal, several Filipino bloggers have taken it upon themselves to broach topics relevant to the transition. They create content to guide, inspire or entertain as we all grapple with the changes to our way of life.

Keepin’ Fit and Healthy

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of one’s health. We have seen how this viral infections has wreaked havoc, not only on one’s physical well-being, but also on one’s finances and social interactions. Also, keeping fit has become challenging for many with exercising outside the home and in the gym no longer among the options available. It is no wonder, then, that bloggers have chosen to dwell on how to maintain one’s health and fitness during this time.

Ces Dimalanta of Manila Millennial, for instance, guides her readers on how to conduct a COVID-19 self assessment using FightCOVID.app.

Prevention is better than cure so it’s good that we continue monitoring ourselves if we develop symptoms, but at the moment, there’s just so much strain on medical workers and doing a self-check is the least that we can do to help. – Manila Millennial

Dale Palisoc of The Little Binger, on the other hand, shares a list of free apps and websites on home workouts that can help his bingers to keep on track with their health goals.

We spent every single day at home because we are restricted and it is not safe… But you know what it is not healthy to stay stagnant. We still have to keep on moving. The big question, however, is how to do it? Especially now that gyms are closed and it is terrifying to jog outside… – The Little Binger

Home is the place to be… stuck in?

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

The home emerged as the safest place to be in, but, as most of us discovered, it is not always the most comfortable or the most entertaining. People who are used to going out and having a social life now find themselves isolated. Families who used to just see each other at dinnertime or on weekends now spend the whole day in each other’s company. The problem that arose from these scenarios is how to while away the time while “stuck” at home? These bloggers may have just the answer.

Nicole San Miguel of Living Beyond Style, Wendyflor Palomo of Wendyflor.com and Mikhaela Adarve of Youthsoloartsy.com, all give their own takes on how one can make the most of the time at home resulting from the quarantine.

Community quarantine may be a disorientating experience, especially for those of us who are used to spending most of our time outside the house. But, it’s also essential to look on the bright side, while channeling our energy into some productive activities. – Living Beyond Style

Beyond my motherhood duties to my two sons, I have come to appreciate the time I have: to do things I have always wanted to do but never got to, because I have always put them aside. – Wendyflor.com

Don’t forget to smile and be positive regardless of what situation you are in. One creative hobby helps us a lot to be more productive and manage our mental health to lessen the stress level. Despite the current situation, it always good to remember you got the passion to do things right and be the right person to deliver results to continue your undeniably creative hobby. – Youthsoloartsy

How can we get our hands on those food!

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

Anybody who knows me also knows that the enjoyment of good food is central to my happiness. When the community quarantine was implemented, my foodie friends and I worried about our favorite restos, and rightfully so. The restaurant industry was among the most badly hit by the pandemic and the resulting lockdown with the reduced clientele, lack of manpower and rising overhead costs putting a huge strain on their finances.

Those who were able to pivot their operations to be viable by making their food available for pickup or delivery stand a chance at surviving in The New Normal.

Plus, for those who are not used to cooking their own food, having tasty and easily accessible food options will make the quarantine restrictions seem not as harsh.

Since the start of the quarantine, I have featured noteworthy dishes from these establishments which can now be enjoyed at home. If you have time, do check out my posts on Fresh Takes on Filipino Food for Araw ng Kalayaan and Extraordinary Sushi for International Sushi Day.

So, what’s next?

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

Through all the difficulties we faced due to the pandemic, we are buoyed by the hope that someday it will end. When that day comes, we need to be prepared on what do do.

Ivan Jose of Ivan + Khris’ Travels gives advice to would-be travelers on how to travel safely and hassle-free.

Practice social distancing as much as you can. When exploring city centers and parks, take cycling tours instead of walking tours or bus tours. Cycling presents the least risk of coming into close contact with other tourists. Plus, cycling is great for your health at any time! – Ivan + Khris’ Travels

GV Caplas of Wandering Good Vibes presents a 30-day challenge to her readers to divert them from their worries and anxieties.

#30DayNewNormalChallenge aims to help citizens face this New Normal phenomenon. This will allow us to just live day-by-day unaware that we have adapted positively with this universal change. – Wandering Good Vibes

Karla Obispo of Travel with Karla, on the other hand, provides a playbook on how to be a decent person in the time of COVD-19 which I think still applies into The New Normal.

There are many ways on how to be a good citizen in the time of COVID-19. I hope you choose to be one. – Travel with Karla

Navigating the way into a new set of circumstances, norms and environments as a result of COVID-19 may seem daunting, but be assured, your blogger friends are with you ready to share what we can to guide, inspire or entertain you into The New Normal.

Many thanks to my fellow bloggers for contributing to this post!

Photo Credits:
Header photo by Sarah Killian on Unsplash
Health and Fitness photo by Cathy Pham on Unsplash
Home Life photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
Food photo by Victor He on Unsplash
Beyond photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash