How to have a COVID-19 safe holiday season

The holidays are here, and many of us are not able to celebrate the way we usually would. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to celebrate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Keep 6 feet apart

Physical distancing is one of the most important steps to take when seeing other people. This means that if you want to see family or friends, you should stand at least 6 feet apart. It is also recommended that any meetings are done outside or through doors/windows as an additional safety measure.

Wear a mask

Masks need to be worn in public spaces, and at any gatherings, particularly if you can’t keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people.

There are plenty of mask types that you can use. To make sure the mask is effective, it should completely cover your nose and mouth without leaving any gaps below your chin or at your cheeks.

Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer

Washing your hands for at least a couple minutes with warm water and soap is the best way to maintain cleanliness. In between handwashes, use a hand sanitizer designed to fight germs and bacteria. This is especially important if you go to any public places.

Exchange gifts through the mail or through porch drop offs

Everyone loves giving and receiving gifts over the holidays, but COVID-19 makes it difficult to do a traditional gift exchange. Instead, arrange to drop off or receive gifts using your front door/porch.

You can also mail your gifts through the post office or other shipping service if you normally exchange gifts with people who live far away.

Speak with family and friends virtually

Using a phone, video chat program, or texting/instant messaging is a great way to stay connected to loved ones even if you can’t see them in person.

How to talk to someone who wants to celebrate in person

This is certainly a tricky conversation to have with loved ones. Some people may want to celebrate the holidays with family gatherings as they usually do, or may not take the same safety precautions as you.

Your safety and the safety of your loved ones is incredibly important, and you don’t want to do anything that would put anyone at risk of getting sick, particularly around the holidays. If a family member asks you to hug, visit them in person, or anything else you’re not comfortable with, communicate with them as politely as possible. Some examples of things to say include:

“I’m following the recommendations of my local health authority and will only be in contact with my household. How about we have a virtual call?”

“For my own health and wellbeing, I won’t be coming over for the holidays this year. I love and miss you very much. Why don’t we plan some virtual activities together?”

“I want to be as safe as possible, especially since I’m [or someone in your household] is at a higher risk for catching COVID-19. Let’s exchange gifts using the porch drop-off system, and have a short physically distanced visit?”

Your family and friends will understand, and many of them will feel the same way as you.

Tips to increase your holiday spirit

Decorate your home

Changing up your environment can make you feel refreshed and happy. Decorating for the holidays can have the same effect. There’s no specific time limit on holiday decorations either – you can put them up as early as you want and keep them up as long as you want.

Family ugly Christmas sweater contest

Does your family like a little competition? You can make it festive by having an ugly Christmas sweater contest. The more out there the sweater, the more fun it is!

You can even take it up a notch by challenging everyone to decorate the sweaters themselves. Top it off with a virtual fashion show and awards for ‘Most Creative’, ‘Ugliest Sweater’ or ‘Most Festive.’

Have a virtual caroling party

Carols and holiday songs are all around us, and it’s always more fun to sing them together. By hosting a virtual sing-a-long with family and friends, you can share your favourite tunes, cheer each other on, and have a lovely winter evening making memories.

Host a virtual holiday dinner

Just because you can’t all be at the same table doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a meal together. Using a video app like Zoom or FaceTime, you can set up your laptop and have a lovely holiday meal with good conversation with the ones you love. You can each make the same dish, set your own menu, or have dessert first – you make the rules!

Learn more about the holiday you celebrate

Depending on your religion or the holidays you choose to celebrate, there may be different meanings behind them. Now is a great opportunity to learn more about the holiday you celebrate, how it came to be, and why. For example, if you celebrate Christmas and Santa Claus is a part of your holiday, do you know where Santa comes from?

Look for virtual events for your religion

If you are part of a religion, you may not be able to gather in a traditional way. However, there may be virtual events/gatherings you can be a part of without having to leave your home. You can reach out to your church/place of religion or do some searching online.

Make homemade crafts & decorations

If you want more decorations, you can also try making some! Crafting is a great activity, and it can be incredibly relaxing.

Make some favourite treats

Holidays are a great time to whip up your favourite sweet or salty treat. Bake cookies, try homemade chocolates, or make a snack mix. There are no limits, and you deserve a treat for yourself.

Share a holiday beverage over a video call

There are plenty of holiday-themed beverage recipes on the Internet. From fancy hot chocolates and coffees to bright cocktails/mocktails, there’s something for everyone. When you set up calls with your family and friends, why not suggest everyone try a new holiday beverage? You can compare recipes and enjoy a holiday ‘cheers’.

See what programs local brain injury associations are offering

Your local brain injury association may be offering programs during the holidays that you can take part in.

Talk with family and friends

The holidays are often spent with family and friends. COVID-19 has changed how we will celebrate, but it doesn’t change that. Schedule times to talk to family and friends, and make sure that you tell them what you need from them when it comes to communication.

Virtual family story time

Story time doesn’t just have to be for kids. Adults like listening to stories too. The holidays are a perfect time to host a virtual story time. Designate one person to be the reader. If you want to add more to the story, other participants can help with sound affects or voice different characters. You can even have participants dress up and make it more of a play! The beautiful thing about telling a story is that you can tell it any way you want.

Watch a movie together

Holiday movies are a staple tradition for many individuals. If you have a computer with an Internet connection and a streaming service such as Netflix, you can still take part in your movie-watching tradition with applications such as Metastream. Here is an article that details some of the available ways to watch movies at the same time with your friends.

If you want to go a little more low-tech, you could agree to all start playing the movie at the same time, and send each other virtual chats at the same time.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, there are plenty of ways to have some festive and safe holiday season.