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Christmas is now only two days away! Due to the pandemic, many Austin residents are facing a holiday season unlike any other. Although some annual events are still in place, there are plenty of other ways to form new traditions for this year's Christmas.

Here are six fun things you can do while social distancing to feel the Christmas cheer:


Play virtual board games

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Traveling is already a challenge during the holidays, but with the pandemic it's even tougher. If you and your family are choosing to stay close to home this year, consider playing virtual board games with out of state family members for a fun night in. This favorite holiday tradition might look different this year, but playing online games can be fun for the whole family and lets you avoid exposure to COVID-19. Trivia Royale, Song Quiz, Tabletopia and House Party are new multiplayer online games that can help you stay connected with friends and family. Even if you're a fan of classic games, you can play Scrabble, Monopoly or Game of Life online. Try playing a virtual board game this holiday season to form a new tradition for all family members, near or far.

Virtual fundraiser

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Although holiday game nights can be fun and harmless, some families get a little more competitive. As an incentive, consider adding donations to a virtual fundraiser to your virtual game night as a way to stay connected with loved ones and give back to the community. Adding a sprinkle of competitive spirit to your holiday game night can turn into a tradition for years to come. When you start playing a virtual game, set rules on who will have to contribute to an online fundraiser. Whether you choose if the winner or loser has to donate to a fundraiser, set fun and creative rules by adding game privileges to those who donate.

Baking

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​Since the pandemic hit, many Austinites have tried to master the art of cooking and baking. If you haven't become the baker of your dreams yet, the holiday season is the perfect time to try out new recipes and spice up your holiday desserts. Try making a unique holiday-themed dessert recipe this year to have your home smelling like cookies and feeling like Christmas. This activity is perfect for any family with younger kids or friends who are cooped up together during the holidays to add a new tradition to your holiday season.

Cruise through light shows

(Isabella Lopes/Austonia)

Annual beloved Austin events such as the Austin Trail of Lights and Mozart's Light Show are still happening this year, despite the pandemic and with added safety measures. Although these events are perfectly enjoyable while social distancing, try switching up holiday traditions by grabbing some hot chocolate and looking at lights from your car, for free. Families with children can enjoy this activity all holiday season and add a sparkle of Christmas cheer to anyone seeing lights around town. You can choose to visit a holiday event around town or drive through a decked out neighborhood to see streets filled with lights.

Binge watch your favorite Christmas movies

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Holiday cheer can be spread in many ways, but nothing beats cozying up on the couch and watching your favorite Christmas movies with your loved ones. This year's Christmas already looks different than most, so no judgement if you want to spend the day eating your holiday-themed desserts and watching one Christmas movie after the other.

DIY projects

Adding a low-cost and family-fun activity to your holiday season might be just what you need after facing the challenges of 2020. Crafting is a fun activity to do with family and friends and can be an easy way to stay connected with family members. You can place a video call with family members from out of state and craft together, for a fun holiday experience with all your loved ones. If your family is competitive, try having a competition on the best craft in the house, or share the results on social media so your loved ones can choose a favorite. Check out these DIYs for a crafty holiday season.

This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach one day until Christmas.

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Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.

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