Thousands of people are spending this Christmas period in mandatory hotel quarantine and many of them are alone. But here are some creative ways people have been making the most of it.

Alexandra Gummer spent Christmas Day in hotel quarantine in Melbourne, making lots of calls to friends and family to stay in touch and share meals.
But her grandma doesn’t know she’s in Australia yet, so Ms Gummer had Christmas lunch in the dark so she can pull off a surprise when she’s released tomorrow.
Alexandra Gummer Facetiming with her Grandma on Christmas Day 2020.(Supplied: Alexandra Gummer)
“The most exciting [call on Christmas Day] was probably my grandma, who is probably my favourite person in the entire world,” she said.
“I had to close my blinds in the middle of the day today to make it appear like it was night-time in Switzerland where I would be.
“I called my family in the dark and had my Christmas lunch to try and pretend to my grandma that I’m still in Switzerland, so that when I surprise her tomorrow she’ll have no idea I’ve been in Melbourne for two weeks.”
Ms Gummer is just one of thousands of people around Australia spending Christmas in hotel quarantine after arriving from overseas.
Many have used Facetime and phone calls to stay in touch with loved ones during the Christmas period.
But many have also found creative ways to celebrate despite the isolation, such as learning new skills or decorating their hotel rooms.
Finding joy in an old hobby
Emytha Taihutu having dinner on Christmas Eve in hotel quarantine in Sydney.(Supplied: Emytha Taihutu)
For Emytha Dyina Taihutu, who will be alone in hotel quarantine in Sydney for another five days, Christmas is one of the most special times of year.
“Coming from Indonesia, our whole family is into Christmas normally my family celebrates Christmas Eve and [my partner] David celebrates Christmas Day, we usually have two balancing Christmases that we really love,” she said.
She took up an old hobby, painting, to stay busy during quarantine and has even made Christmas decorations out of magazines, tea bags and other items in the hotel room.
Ms Taihutu posted pictures of her creations in a Facebook group for Australians in quarantine and has been giving tips to other people in quarantine who want to try crafts too.
“I like that what I did in quarantine has inspired people to keep their spirits up,” she said.
Ms Taihutu’s designs have mostly been from childhood memories.(Supplied: Emytha D Taihutu)
Ms Taihutu has also been calling her loved ones on Facetime daily.
Even though she joined her family for Christmas lunch remotely, they set a place at the table for her and even laid out a cracker and some red wine.
“I have my placemat done with a little bit of handcrafting and painting to feel Christmassy, and the hotel gave me a surprise with a Christmas cracker and a bottle of sparkling,” she said.
Ms Taihutu has also used her crafting skills to make thank-you cards and origami angels for the hotel staff.
“I just want to make the most of it,” she said.
“This is Christmas this is the best time of year, when we all should be grateful.”
Emytha Taihutu took up an old hobby when she got into quarantine.(Supplied: Emytha Taihutu)
Presents under a paper Christmas tree
Deepa Rao went to India for a two-week trip to see family back in March but got stuck for nine months because of the pandemic.
Deepa Rao dressed up to join Christmas lunch over Facetime.(Supplied: Deepa Rao)
Because there weren’t any direct flights to Australia, she had to travel through multiple cities and the United States before finally making it home to Sydney last week.
“I haven’t seen anyone’s face in about nine days, except for when I did the COVID test,” she said.
Ms Rao would normally be spending Christmas surrounded by friends, family, pets, good food and drinks.
But this year she got dressed up and joined her friends and family for Christmas lunch over Facetime, and has also put some decorations up in her room.
“It’s really, really weird to be in hotel quarantine but I drew up a Christmas tree and I stuck it up on my window so I have some festivities going on, and I also have a Santa hat I’ve been wearing the past few days,” she said.
“My friends were nice enough to drop me hampers and gifts so I’ve put it under the [Christmas tree drawing]. And obviously the wine helps.”
Ms Rao put presents from her friends under a Christmas tree in her hotel room.(Supplied: Deepa Rao)
Ms Rao said she’s looking forward to seeing her family and pets when she leaves hotel quarantine in five days.
But while hotel quarantine wasn’t how Ms Rao had hoped to spend Christmas, she was ultimately glad to be home.
“Hotel quarantine sounds like a breeze, thinking of what I’ve been through in the past nine months this 14 days is a breeze and I’m grateful I’ll be out of it at the end,” she said.
“It actually doesn’t seem as bad as it could’ve been. Mind over matter, really.”
Running a hotel-room marathon
Ms Gunner, who has been living in Switzerland for 12 months, is looking forward to meeting her sister’s newborn baby.
She was hoping to get out of quarantine on Christmas Day, but a cancelled flight pushed her plans back a day.
The hotel she’s staying in gave her some bonbons, but staying alone meant she had to come up with an “innovative way” to crack them.
“I had a skipping rope that I’ve been using to keep fit over the time that I’ve been in here, and I tied it around one end of the bonbon and then the other end to a table and was pulling the bonbon,” she said.
“Sometimes you’ve got to find different solutions.”
For the past two weeks, Ms Gummer has been trying to keep productive with work and fitness goals and even did a marathon by running back and forth in her hotel room.
“That’s something I probably never would have done, if I wasn’t in quarantine,” she said.
“And I’ve also been calling friends and sometimes having a break and actually not doing anything I live a very busy life, so to be able to actually do nothing is actually quite nice.”
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