How to Safely Celebrate the Holidays During COVID-19

Posted by Century Support Services on Nov 09, 2020

While we might have all hoped COVID-19 would be behind us by now, the reality is that it’s here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. If you’re like most people, you may be wondering how to celebrate this holiday season without compromising the health and safety of you and your loved ones. We’ve got good news and not-so-good news on that front: The holidays aren’t canceled, but they’re going to be different.

Here’s a closer look at the latest safety recommendations, along with tips for making the holidays merry and bright — even in the midst of a pandemic.

CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 Holidays

Holidays are occasions for family and friends to gather and celebrate. This was before the days of social distancing, quarantines, and skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, however. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines aimed at minimizing the risk of getting and spreading coronavirus during the holidays. In addition to cautioning against unnecessary travel, the CDC sorted activities into three categories: lower risk activities, moderate risk activities, and higher risk activities.

Activities falling into the “lower risk” category are most advisable. These include hosting a small dinner for immediate members of your household; preparing traditional holiday foods for friends and neighbors and delivering them via no-contact methods; organizing a “virtual dinner;” shopping online instead of in crowded stores; and watching movies, parades and sporting events from the comfort — and safety — of home.

Moderate risk activities offer less protection from the virus, but are still preferable to business as usual. These include sharing small outdoor dinners with family and friends who live in your community; enjoying seasonal activities like visits to orchards and pumpkin patches while adhering to social distancing recommendations; and attending small outdoor events while taking the recommended safety precautions.

Lastly, the CDC proposes that the following higher risk activities be avoided completely: shopping in crowded stores; participating in or attending sporting events, such as Turkey Trots; being a parade spectator; and attending large indoor gatherings with non-household members. The CDC also recommended limiting alcohol and drug use, which can impair judgement and lead to risky behaviors.

Making the Most of Your Holidays During COVID-19

The restrictions above can be disheartening, and it is normal to feel disappointed. But it’s also important to know that just because the holidays won’t be the same doesn’t mean they can’t be special.

Chef and food writer Alejandra Ramos suggests using these unusual times as an opportunity to embrace the things you truly love about the holidays and let go of the rest. “Don’t really like turkey or always end up with too much cranberry sauce because nobody eats it? Go ahead and skip it. Or swap in something you and your household loves instead. If there was ever a year to break the rules, this one is it,” she told Today.

Happier at Home author Gretchen Rubin shared similar advice with Real Simple. “Think about what is the essence of the holiday for you, so you can try to preserve it. Even if you’re not doing everything you used to, you can set up the holiday decorations, if that’s really important, or make the special foods you love.”

I Don’t have the heart to carry on your usual traditions in the absence of loved ones? Ramos suggests skipping attempts to recreate what’s missing and shaking things up, instead. “You can also look to other cultures for ideas. For example, my Puerto Rican family always celebrates Thanksgiving with a slow-roasted pork shoulder called Pernil which is perfect for a smaller group,” she continues.

Other ideas for making new memories include everything from watching Christmas movies on Netflix with your immediate family members to making your own advent calendar to help create a sense of excitement and anticipation. A side benefit? Smaller holidays and fewer holiday activities mean you’re likely to spend less money in the weeks and months ahead.

Ultimately, you can’t change COVID-19, but you can reframe your perspective to stay focused on what actually is in your power to change. Rubin concludes, “This exceptional holiday season will probably be more memorable because it’s so different. We just have to find a way to make the most of it.”