The holidays are upon us once again—and with so many unexpected challenges that have come our way this year, most of us are craving some comfort in the joy this time of year brings. And yet, in a year so heavily impacted by an ongoing pandemic, holiday plans are bound to look a little different for many of us. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to celebrate! During a time of year typically marked by gatherings and get-togethers, the holiday spirit can still be found if we commit ourselves to making smart modifications to our traditional plans. We wanted to provide some tips and advice that can help you and your family stay safe this season while keeping the festivities alive and well.
First though, we can’t stress enough how important it is to continue cooperating with the preventative mandates set in place by your local government. We know you’ve heard this time and time again this year, but with COVID-19 surging across the nation it becomes even more important that we each do our best to keep up with the basic safety measures we’ve all gotten so good at. These include:
- Wearing a mask, to help reduce the transmission of COVID. Mask up whenever you’ll be spending time with someone outside of your household.
- Maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet from anyone you will be visiting, and at all times in public spaces.
- Washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face.
- Staying at home whenever possible.
The CDC has further details on each of these recommendations on their website.
With that said, here are some recommendations for staying safe no matter how you celebrate the holidays this season.
Celebrate in virtual style!
For most, virtual meetings have become the norm this year. This technology gives us the power to meet and work with others without leaving the comfort and safety of our homes—and it also gives us the opportunity to safely celebrate the holidays with friends and family.
There are countless ways to use video chat to brighten up your holiday season.
- Bring your family together with a virtual holiday meal.
- Share in virtual holiday activities like baking holiday cookies in your kitchen alongside distant friends and family.
- Watch holiday movies together. Most screening services have a “Watch Together” option so you may bond over Holiday Classics in real time.
- Organize a holiday game night using a party games app.
- Participate in a virtual gift exchange between friends.
- Schedule a virtual meeting with Santa, which can be done through several department store websites.
The possibilities for virtual festivities are limited only by your imagination, and can provide much of the joy of being together that we love about the holidays.
Connect with your community.
This holiday season gives us the perfect opportunity to participate in more community-driven activities, many of which are COVID-safe. You might, for example,
- Go on a drive through town to look at all your neighbors’ holiday lights, or participate in a (socially-distanced) community event or parade.
- Lean into the spirit of giving, and donate to your local toy drive or charity or even organize your own holiday fundraiser.
- Prepare or cook meals for those in need in your community (be sure to follow the CDC’s Four Steps to Food Safety if doing so).
We might not all have the chance to visit our loved ones this holiday season, but many of us can still find an abundance of holiday spirit springing up in our own neighborhood.
Keep home gatherings small and safe.
It’s always exciting when loved ones come home for the holidays—but if you’ll be hosting family and friends this year, we’d like to remind you that anyone who isn’t a part of your household can be considered a risk. Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, Team Lead of the Division of Injury Prevention (DIP) at the CDC, defines very clearly for us: “If people have not been actively living with you for the 14 days before you’re celebrating, they are not considered a part of your household.”
Take extra measures to mitigate any risk of exposure:
- The CDC strongly recommends that each person get tested for COVID-19 prior to any multi-household gathering. The RT-PCR is currently the gold standard or most accurate test available. Schedule yours today here.
- Keep these gatherings small and outdoors if possible, or in well-ventilated indoor areas.
- Reduce the amount of time spent together to a single meal rather than an all-day event.
- Continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
If you must travel, travel smart.
Staying at home is without a doubt the best way to prevent getting and spreading the virus this holiday season—but some essential travel may be unavoidable. If you are considering traveling:
- Keep in mind that your destination may have different preventative measures in place. Make sure to research and be clear on your destination and travel requirements. You can check local requirements for domestic travel here, and for international travel here.
- It is recommended that for 14 days before travel you take every measure to stay healthy. Reduce as many non-essential activities as possible to reduce your risk.
- Get yourself tested prior to traveling (1-3 days before is a good window). This is required for most air travel. The RT-PCR test we administer at ADx is approved for most destinations. Find out more on our website.
- Refrain from travel if you are experiencing any potential COVID symptoms or have been exposed to somebody with COVID in the last 14 days. The CDC has provided this helpful guide for deciding whether or not to delay your travel.
Remember that even while visiting friends and family afar, it is just as important to take precautions like wearing masks and practicing social distancing—there’s just no getting around the fact that for the vast majority of us, our holiday plans will require at least some modifications. Keep an open mind and stay smart this year, so that we have more normalcy to look forward to next holiday season.
This will undoubtedly be a holiday season unlike any other. But we need not decide between celebrating and staying safe. With these precautions and modifications we can turn these unique circumstances into truly unforgettable holiday memories.