Socially Distant Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

by Kristy Tolley
red car and Christmas lights at the Speedway Christmas lights event

The holidays may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate them! Here are a few socially distant ways to enjoy the holidays this year.

See the Lights

Seeking out the best Christmas lights displays is a favorite holiday tradition for many families. It’s also a safe to experience the magic of the holidays. Drive through local neighborhoods to find the best Clark Griswald-inspired decorations or check out one of these popular spots for Christmas lights.

Nighttime light display at Speedway Christmas

North Carolina

Charlotte Motor Speedway

This year marks the speedway’s 11th year evoking “ooohs” and “aaahhs” from drivers and passengers. This drive-through light show features more than 4 million lights along the 3.75-mile course. Tune your radio to 101.3 and add a festive Christmas soundtrack to your tour. The show continues through Jan. 17, 2021, so if you can’t make it before Christmas, no worries!

Christmas lights and decorations on the outdoor of a home in McAdenville, NC


For more than 60 years, Christmas Town USA has come to life with holiday splendor each season. While the show goes on in 2020, it will be scaled back a bit. Some events have been canceled, including the tree lighting ceremony, the yule log ceremony and the Christmas Town 5K (will be virtual). Displays are open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night through Dec. 26. Organizers recommend you visit Monday through Thursday to avoid longer wait times.

South Carolina

Brookgreen Gardens

See Brookgreen Gardens come to life amid the soft glow of more than 2,800 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights. From 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. guests can walk the garden pathways with a warm cup of cider, cocoa, or wine. Hear the sounds of holiday music, carolers singing, and celebrate the season with family and friends. To ensure social distancing and provide crowd control, they’ve added 12 additional nights this year. Note: They’ll have half the amount of tickets available each night compared to previous years and strict capacity limits are in place. so get your tickets soon. Tickets must be pre-purchased. No drive-ups allowed. Purchase your tickets online at or call 844-271-3410 Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Giraffe wearing a Christmas Santa hat

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Lights Before Christmas

Pack up the family and enjoy Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition. From now until December 30 (from 5 to 9 p.m.)  more than one-million twinkling lights and a variety of ornate images will be on display. As well as, a 30-foot animated story tree sponsored by Dominion Energy echoing popular Christmas tunes. Additional spacing measures are in place in Santa’s Village to allow for proper social distancing. In addition, the Jingle Bell Bonfire also has been modified so guests can maintain a 6-foot distance. They’ve also added locations throughout the zoo for toasting s’mores.

Visit with Santa starts at 6:00 p.m. each evening until December 23. General admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 2 through 12. Children under 2 are admitted free. Timed arrival tickets are required and must be purchased ahead of time. Visit for ticket information.

Other socially distant ways to celebrate the holidays…

  • Socially distant cookie swap

Organize your neighbors or friends who would like to participate. Make sure everyone is baking a different type of cookie and decide ahead of time how many cookies each person will make for the others. One dozen per participant is typically the way to go. So if you have four people baking, you’ll need to make four dozen cookies. Designated a “deliver” date and have everyone drop their goodies on the front porch of the other participants. Schedule a cookie swap party on Zoom for that same evening and celebrate the holidays together while apart. Need inspiration or looking for a new recipe, read 8 of Our Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes.

  • Go caroling with your family

Corral your crew, don your most festive attire (don’t forget your mask!) and spread some cheer through your neighborhood. You don’t need to be a pro. It’s the sentiment that matters, right?

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