This holiday season, we’re especially grateful for our wonderfully quirky, loving furkids who were a very good thing in a not-so-great year. We can always count on our dogs and cats to inspire us to find joy in traditions, both old and new. Pets have the power to bring us together even when we’re apart, so of course we’re going to include them in all of the holiday hoopla!
While Christmas for you and your pets may look different this year—with advisories cautioning against some forms of travel and participating in large gatherings, especially those held indoors—we’ve found plenty of festive, fun things to do with our dog and cats. Here’s a list of five of our favorites.
1. The Late Show: Bundle Up the Pack and See Some Lights
“Wanna go for a ride?” What dog doesn’t thrill to that invite? But this year, we’re going one better with a destination sure to have those tails thumping. Pile your dogs into the car, turn up the holiday music, and hit the road in search of fabulous displays of Christmas lights. From main streets to meandering roads, it’s forecast that this year we will see plenty of this nostalgic, old school décor, from lights around roofs to jaw-dropping drive-through displays.
While it’s cool to open the car windows to the chill night air, never allow your dog to roam the vehicle—be sure to strap them in so they are safe and secure. You can also take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood to see the lights, but do follow social distancing guidelines.
Check out these 9 pet-friendly Christmas light displays from across the country to visit this season.
2. Into the Woods: Decorate with Nature
This year, the holidays are more about “celebrating the smaller moments” to better appreciate time spent with friends and family, according to a Pinterest survey. Add to that the trend of using reclaimed, recycled and natural materials (dubbed “Homespun Holiday” by style spotters) in décor and what do you have? The perfect reason for a walk in the woods with your pet to refresh, recharge and recalibrate after one weird year. (Many cats are perfectly Zen about wearing a leash, so don’t leave them at home!)
Grab a basket or canvas bag and hit the trail (here are some dog-approved places to go), picking up the natural treasures you find along the way. How “right” would a bowl of perfectly-imperfect pinecones that you gathered on a stroll with your dog feel about now? Your attention is the best gift you can give your pet (and you can both burn some calories, too).
3. Oh Snap! Capture the Christmas Cuteness
Picture this: You and your pet-kids in matching Christmas sweaters. Need we say more? This year, go there and create a holiday fur-family photo for the ages. Whether it’s a full-on costume, a colorful sweater or just adding antlers to your dog’s head or strapping an elf hat on your cat, dressing up your oh-so-photogenic pets for holiday snaps—to feature on cards and ornaments, in videos or just adding quirky cheer to your IG feed—is a perfect way to share their cuteness, especially if you won’t be traveling for visits this season.
Overachiever? Create a holiday video to share using one of the many free programs out there. Not sure how to get the best shots? Here are some tips for snapping great pet pix.
4. Get Your Bake On: Host a Virtual Holiday Cookie Exchange
Cookie exchanges are a fun way to get a real taste of the holiday without having to bake 10 different types of treats—and getting your pets involved makes it even more of blast. Here’s how it works: Choose your favorite cookie recipe for yourself and another for your pets, bake a batch of each (about two dozen cookies total) and invite a few of your friends to each make a human and pet cookie of their choosing. (Typically, you want to stick to 4-6 bakers in total.) In a “normal” year you would host a party at home to sample all the goodies, but this year, we’re using Zoom and porch pick-ups.
Set a date for baking and host a Zoom event while everyone is up to their elbow in dough. Your pets will of course want to be part of the action. Later that day or the next, drop off a tin of freshly baked treats to other participants, leaving it securely on a porch or other agreed upon location. Organize a time for everyone to Zoom in (with a glass of something bubbly at hand) and open the tins of treats for a tasting party. Your pet will not be allowed to try every cookie that day (you don’t want any tummy aches), but with this collaborative effort, you both will have treats on hand for the next week.
Need some pet-safe treat inspo? Try:
5. Snuggle and Stream: Have a Holiday Movie Bingefest
Take some time out of all the bustle and glitz of the season to just spend quiet time in your own home with your pets. Create a cozy scene, pour something delish for you and your pet—may we suggest a dog-friendly PSL for your canine viewing companions (get the recipe here)—and screen a Christmas classic or two.
Two movies on our must-watch list? “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the Grinch’s dog Max is a total scene stealer), and of course, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” featuring everyone’s favorite Beagle, Snoopy. If the cat purrs and dog snores get too loud, well, then your work here is done!
If ever there was a reason to call a time out from what has been a challenging year and take a moment to be grateful for the joy, comfort, and straight up laughs our pets have inspired, 2020 is it. Extra kisses and belly rubs, please.