Lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing are not the typical words you associate with this holiday time of year, but it is the reality we face this year. There are a few ways to handle this, but I prefer to be proactive and try to make the best of this crazy year while following guidelines set forth to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Following recommendations from the CDC, we’ve put together a helpful guide to navigating this holiday period during COVID-19 this year. From outdoor holiday party ideas to social distancing guidelines, read on for ideas to make this year as safe (and special) as possible.
1. Holiday Shopping
Whether it is last-minute gifts, or last-minute grocery shopping, try and avoid crowded big box stores and shopping malls. Many of these places offer curbside pick up or delivery. Personally, I find small local shops to be a much more relaxed and safer experience if I do need to go out. Supporting local businesses also has many other benefits.
2. Parties and Celebratory Meals
Well, this is not the year to have the big party! Check your local health department, as every region may have different rules. But to be safe, avoid indoor holiday parties that mix households. Many health departments are recommending that you limit your indoor associations to members of your household. Consider trying an outdoor get-together (dress warmly!) or virtual online parties.
According to many experts, indoor spaces usually have worse air ventilation than outdoors and can make adequate physical distancing challenging. Add in shared appetizers and alcohol and the risk of viral spread can increase.
My family has two video calls planned this year. One is with my elderly parents and my brother’s family, and one is with my husband’s family, who are spread out around the country. Most years my children and my brother’s children open their Christmas gifts together and we have a sleepover. This year, they will be opening them together over video and watching their favorite movie together… virtually.
3. Check Out Your Neighborhood
A few nights a week, we drive to a different neighborhood, and take our dog for a walk and check out all the lights and decorations. It is fun to see how festive and creative people are being.
Many zoos, parks and neighborhoods put on elaborate holiday light displays. Taking a drive is a wonderful and safe way to view decorations and get into the holiday spirit!
4. Play Outside
If you are lucky enough to have snow, find a hill and have some old-fashioned sledding fun! If not, try an outdoor scavenger hunt. The list can be as creative as you want. Make a list and ask your neighbors to join in! Or have the kids organize a parade. Our little street had the kids walk around the street on a sidewalk and ring bells and sing songs, all while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
Shelters and foods banks are still open during this pandemic. Now more than ever contributions are needed. Unfortunately, many more people will be in a situation where they need these services and donations. If you are in a place that you can help, then donate. Whether it is non-perishable goods, clothing, toys or gift card to a grocery store, every bit helps. And giving is good for the giver, too. Giving makes us feel happy! In a 2006 study, researchers found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.
Whatever you decide to do over the next few weeks we hope you are all safe and healthy.