75 ways to celebrate the holidays without leaving home

Julie Pennell
·11 min read

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So, quarantining at home during the holidays isn't ideal, but there are some upsides. For one thing, you don't have to make awkward small talk with strangers at holiday parties. You can also live in your cozy pajamas 24/7 — isn't that the winter dream anyway? And there are plenty of things you can do at home to keep yourself entertained while you ride out the pandemic shutdowns.

To make it even easier to figure out what to do when you're not doomscrolling the news or Zooming with friends, we made a list of 75 Christmas-y things to watch, read, listen to and cook that will keep you busy and in the holiday spirit. See below for the ultimate holidays at home guide from TMRW.

What to watch

TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Netflix/Hulu/Everett Collection
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Netflix/Hulu/Everett Collection

1. "Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square" - Beloved country icon Dolly Parton plays an angel who visits a woman in this musical that’s a take on the classic “A Christmas Carol.” (Netflix)

2. "The Great British Baking Show: Holidays" - What’s better than eating delicious treats for the holidays? Watching others make them in this charming baking competition. (Netflix)

3. "Holidate" - Emma Roberts stars in this rom-com that follows two strangers who agree to be each other’s platonic plus-ones for all the important holidays year-round. (Netflix)

4. "A Christmas Prince" - Anyone who’s ever imagined what it would be like to inch your way into the royal family will appreciate this holiday fairy tale. (Netflix)

5. "Let it Snow" - Cozy up with this sweet story about a snowstorm on Christmas Eve that brings together a group of high school students, whose lives and relationships intertwine. (Netflix)

6. "The Princess Switch" - Vanessa Hudgens stars in this holiday rom-com that gives off “The Parent Trap” vibes. (Netflix)

7. "Nailed It! Holiday!" - If your quarantine baking hasn’t been going quite as planned (i.e. lots of funny fails), this show is for you. (Netflix)

8. "The Mistle-Tones" - Tia Mowry and Tori Spelling star in this fun tale about rival holiday musical groups who compete against each other on Christmas Eve. (Disney+)

9. "Noelle" - Anna Kendrick plays Kris Kringle’s daughter whose brother is supposed to take over Santa duties this year, but after he disappears, she has to go on a rescue mission to find him and save Christmas. (Disney+)

10. "Home Alone" - Even when you’re watching it as an adult, the hijinks in this childhood holiday classic still hold up. (Disney+)

11. "While You Were Sleeping" - This love story involving mistaken identity stars Sandra Bullock, and while it’s not all about Christmas, it’s got the sparkly and magical backdrop of the holiday season. (Disney+)

12. "Miracle on 34th Street" - This classic story will make you believe in Santa again. (Disney+)

13. "Happiest Season" - Kristen Stewart stars in this film about a young woman who joins her girlfriend for a visit home for the holidays and plans to propose to her, only to find out she hasn’t come out yet to her parents. (Hulu)

14. "The Preacher’s Wife" - This classic starring Whitney Houston includes gorgeous gospel music set against a holiday backdrop and Denzel Washington playing an angel. (HBO Max)

15. "The Family Stone" - Missing all the family drama this year? This movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker will fill the void. (HBO Max)

16. "Last Christmas" - This sweet Christmas rom-com stars Emilia Clarke as a frustrated store elf who meets a charming guy who seems too good to be true. (HBO Max)

17. "12 Dates of Christmas" - Here’s a holiday dating reality show you didn’t know you needed. (HBO Max)

18. "My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood" - If you love Carrie Underwood and Christmas, you’ll love this special featuring musical performances from the singer’s new holiday album. (HBO Max)

19. "Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special" - The queen of Christmas music has a new holiday special. Watch for lots of musical performances, dancing and appearances from her celeb friends. (Apple TV)

20. "It’s a Wonderful Life" - Is it actually Christmas if you don’t watch this classic? (Amazon Prime Video)

21. "Love Actually" - This popular Christmas flick will remind you that love actually is all around. (Amazon)

22. "The Holiday" - This movie starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet will give you some travel escapism even if you can’t leave your couch this year. (Amazon)

23. "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" - Watch this flick if you’re missing that fun, old-fashioned family Christmas this year. (Amazon)

24. "A Christmas Story" - Just put this classic Christmas tale on repeat in the background for an extra dose of holiday fun when you’re baking cookies or decorating — after all, you’ve probably seen it a million times already. (Amazon)

25. "Elf" - This silly and sweet film starring Will Ferrell as a grown elf venturing in New York City will get you in the holiday spirit. (Amazon)

Related: Here are five ideas to spice up your holiday Zoom call and make it feel more like a party and less like a meeting.

What to read

TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Amazon
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Amazon

26. “The Twelve Dates of Christmas” by Jenny Bayliss - After her friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises love before the holiday, 34-year-old Kate goes on 12 different dates with 12 different men.

27. “In A Holidaze” by Christina Lauren - After a mental meltdown, Maelyn asks the universe to show her what will make her happy. The story involves a time loop, two brothers and plenty of yuletide cheer.

28. “Holiday Home Run” by Priscilla Oliveras - Event planner Julia is focused on organizing a big holiday fundraiser, not on romance. But when ex-MLB pitcher Ben volunteers as the emcee, can she stick with her original game plan?

29. “Jingle All the Way” by Debbie Macomber - A twist in main character Everly’s December travel plans could spell disaster ... or may lead to a merry surprise.

30. “Winter Street” by Elin Hilderbrand - A family gathers in Nantucket, Massachusetts, for a holiday filled with surprises.

31. “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham - A couple decides to skip Christmas but finds that doing so might bring on some enormous consequences.

32. “Christmas Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella - The popular "Shopaholic" series gets a festive twist.

33. “A Lowcountry Christmas” by Mary Alice Monroe - A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas.

34. “A Redbird Christmas” by Fannie Flagg - Set in a small southern town, this charming holiday story involves a little redbird named Jack who is at the center of the magical tale.

35. “Holidays on Ice” by David Sedaris - Humorist David Sedaris shares a collection of holiday essays and stories.

36. “Blue Christmas” by Mary Kay Andrews - Antiques dealer Weezie may be facing a challenging Christmas, but readers will find this novel anything but blue.

37. “Mistletoe and Mr. Right” by Sarah Morgenthaler - This charming rom-com set in Alaska involves an accidental tranquilization, a moose and lots of laughs.

38. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott - This beloved literary classic transports you to Christmas in the Civil War era.

39. “Royal Holiday” by Jasmine Guillory - A spontaneous holiday vacation turns into an unforgettable romance.

40. “Christmas in London” by Anita Hughes - While you're probably not traveling this year, you’ll feel like you’re frolicking in London during the Christmas season by reading this charming love story.

41. “One Day in December” by Josie Silver - For Laurie, a missed connection with the man she believes is “the one” leads to a reunion at a Christmas party. The book follows their lives for 10 years as they navigate life, love and their destinies.

42. “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern - If you love “It’s a Wonderful Life,” read this short story which was the basis for the film.

43. “Seven Days of Us” by Francesca Hornak - If reading a book about quarantining with family during the holidays isn’t too on-the-nose right now, give this one a try.

44. “The Christmas Sisters” by Sarah Morgan - Three adopted daughters go home to Scotland for Christmas in this feel-good tale spiced with family drama.

45. “Comfort and Joy” Kristin Hannah - A woman gets a miraculous chance at happiness in this modern day fairy tale.

What to listen to

TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Amazon
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images/ Amazon

46. “A Holly Dolly Christmas” by Dolly Parton - In Parton’s newest album, she’s joined in holiday duets with famous voices including Miley Cyrus, Michael Buble and Jimmy Fallon.

47. “The Christmas Album” by Leslie Odom Jr. - The “Hamilton” Tony Award winner spreads holiday cheer.

48. “My Gift” by Carrie Underwood - Hear classic Christmas songs from the popular singer (plus her 5-year-old son, Isaiah, joins her on a track!)

49. “A Very Trainor Christmas” by Meghan Trainor - Another holiday album featuring a family member, Trainor’s dad joins her for a song.

50. “It's Christmas All Over” by the Goo Goo Dolls - The rock band just released their first holiday album featuring some classics and two original songs.

51. “A Tori Kelly Christmas” by Tori Kelly - This festive holiday album includes two original songs plus some traditional tunes (like "Let It Snow" in a duet with Babyface, who executive produced the project.)

52. “NOW That's What I Call Music! R&B Christmas” - This album is full of Christmas covers from fan favorite R&B artists including John Legend, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder.

53. “A Legendary Christmas” by John Legend - It truly is a legendary holiday album.

54. “Merry Christmas” by Mariah Carey - This is a Christmas album classic. If you don’t own this one already, what are you waiting for?

55. “Christmas" by Michael Buble - In his signature jazzy style, Michael Buble delivers a classy holiday listening experience.

56. “A Very She & Him Christmas” by She & Him - Musical duo Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward get you in the Christmas spirit with their folksy renditions of holiday classics.

57. “A Very Kacey Christmas” by Kacey Musgraves - The country artist sings traditional songs as well as four original ones, including a duet with Willie Nelson.

58. “A Pentatonix Christmas” by Pentatonix - You’ll want to start your own a cappella group after listening to this holiday album on repeat.

59. “Christmas in the City” by Lea Michele - The former “Glee” star worked with the show’s music producers and a couple of costars on this album.

60. “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas” by Ella Fitzgerald - Turn up the music on this album to make your holidays even jazzier.

What to cook

TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

61. Martha Stewart's Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies - These wreath-shaped shortbread cookies infused with Meyer lemon are almost too pretty to eat — but you absolutely should eat them!

62. White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies - The two main ingredients of white chocolate and peppermint make these cookies a quintessential holiday treat.

63. Siri Daly’s Cookie Butter Truffles - Cookie. Butter. Truffles. Need we say more?

64. Sugar Cookies - Here’s a classic recipe for sugar cookies. BYO icing and you’ll have a whole afternoon of entertainment.

65. Hoda’s Oreo Reindeer Truffles - Impress all your friends on Instagram with these cute reindeer truffles.

66. Maple Pecan Pie - Master the art of quarantine baking with this delicious holiday pie.

67. The Rudolph Cocktail - No one said you had to have a big party to serve a fun cocktail. Make this cute one for you and your roommate, partner or even just yourself.

68. Ginger Spice Punch - Here’s a yummy cocktail to whip up when you want to feel festive.

69. Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate - If you’ve ever fantasized about drinking a melted chocolate bar, here’s the next best thing.

70. Chai-Spiced Eggnog - A fun take on the classic holiday drink, this recipe involves steeping a few chai tea bags in steamed milk.

71. Gingerbread Pancakes - Make Christmas morning extra festive with these holiday-perfect pancakes.

72. Eggnog Breakfast Casserole - Assemble this casserole on Christmas Eve so that you can just pop it in the oven on Christmas morning.

73. Tangerine Glazed Ham - Looking for something to make for Christmas Day dinner? Here’s a delicious option.

74. Holiday Prime Roast Rib - Here’s another option for Christmas dinner. You may want to halve the recipe since you’re probably not going to be cooking for a big crowd this year.

75. Al’s Sticky Toffee Pudding - This hearty dessert is a great way to end your holiday meal.