Enjoying the Holidays Safely During the Pandemic - Promise
Enjoying the Holidays Safely During the Pandemic

Enjoying the Holidays Safely During the Pandemic

The holiday season will look different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. It’s been stressful for everyone, adults and children alike. We suggest that you use this special time to keep “pandemic fatigue” in check by reconnecting safely with family, friends.

Here are some ways you can enjoy the holidays while keeping the people you care about safe and happy.  

Family Gatherings – Keep Them Small or Virtual

Your safest options this year are to celebrate the holidays in-person only with members of your own household OR virtually with extended friends and family. Remember that your household is anyone who currently lives in and shares common spaces.

If you are a parent to a college age student, their return home poses some risk. It’s ideal if they can quarantine for 14 days prior to their return. It’s a tough situation, but better for the family in the long run.

During the time when your family normally gathers for the holiday, consider having a virtual dinner, chatting while eating, playing games, and sharing recipes. You can also prepare traditional family recipes for people you care about who are higher risk and deliver the food without contact.

Some families may consider an outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community. This poses more of a risk than staying at home, so if you’re going to do it, make sure to follow CDC’s advice on hosting gatherings.

Tips for Safe Dining

  • Get together outdoors, if possible.
  • If you must be indoors, open windows to increase ventilation. Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask except when eating and drinking. 
  • Keep people from different households separated by at least 6 feet. Set up chairs or tables in advance so people know where to safely be.
  • Keep the visit brief. You might consider getting together just for dessert.
  • Have people bring their own food and drinks to limit touching the same surfaces. If you do share food, have one person serve the food (while wearing a mask) so only one person touches the serving spoon. Consider putting the food on plates in advance. Then have people take a plate one at a time keeping physically distant.

Get Creative for Holiday Fun

Even as holiday celebrations change this year, there are still ways to make them fun and memorable.

  • Make an event of watching sports, parades, and movies from the comfort of your own home. Set up an indoor cozy space with pillows and blankets and snacks. If it isn’t too cold, enjoy entertainment from your yard.
  • When it comes to shopping for holiday gifts, shop online rather than in person.
  • Host a Secret Santa event with your family and friends virtually and open gifts together.
  • Make gifts! Get crafty and have kids write letters to each other and loved ones, create coupon books, and more. They can make their own wrapping paper. Older children and teens can have fun with tie-dye, inviting friends to virtually create with them.
  • Travel to an imaginary vacation spot in your home. Come up with theme rooms, special foods, and fun activities that you would traditionally do at your favorite vacation spot.
  • Gather together to make your holiday greetings. Whether you buy cards or make your own, kids will enjoy being involved and getting them ready to go in the mail.
  • Make a holiday greeting video and involve kids in the entire creative process from writing a script, to filming and emailing.
  • Play games. Teach your kids the board games you played when you were growing up or have a virtual game night with friends or your family.
  • Decorate. It can brighten spirits, giving your whole family a change of space.
  • Spread kindness to your community. Kids can make signs with messages for neighbors to hang in the windows or in your yard.
  • Make a game of going through your house to find items to donate–clothes, food, clothes, food, and household goods that you don’t use that are in good condition.
  • Take a tour of your neighborhood to see the holiday lights.
  • Read holiday books or watch holiday movies together with the whole family.

Safety Steps to Take

To help prevent the spread of germs that cause coldsthe flu, and COVID-19, everyone in your family should:

  • Wash hands well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Clean surfaces that get touched a lot (like doorknobs, counters, phones, etc.).
  • Avoid large crowds and busy places.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from people they don’t live with.
  • Wear a mask when in public (all adults and kids over 2 years old).
  • Try not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Family members 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. If you or your kids haven’t gotten one yet for this flu season, it’s not too late.

Karen Ravin, MD

About Karen Ravin, MD

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Dr. Karen Ravin is Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.