COVID vs The Holidays: AND the Holidays Win!
100 ways to have a healthy, safe and fun 2020 holiday season.
Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, most “normal” celebrations are with friends and family. This year celebrations are going to look different. People are searching for ways to connect in memorable, meaningful and healthy ways. Here are 100 tips and ideas to help you and your family do so every day.
Whether you are with friends or family for the Holidays, always remember to:
- Wash your hands
- Wear a mask
- Stay 6 feet apart
- Don’t touch your face
- Wash your hands (did I say that already?!?)
If you are bringing together family and friends, consider these safety tips
- If weather permits, have the gathering outside
- Or if it is cold, play up the cold and have a winter gathering with an “ice bar/table” theme complemented with snow and cold decorations
- If weather does not allow for an outdoors gathering, open or crack windows to increase air flow
- Keep the group small enough so that people can stay 6 feet apart
- Avoid direct contact (hugs, handshakes)
- Provide hand sanitizer
- Have guests wear masks that cover both mouth and nose while not eating or drinking
- Avoid singing and shouting, keep music low enough so people do not have to shout over the music
- Bring your own food and beverages so you are not touching other people’s items
- If you will be sharing food, have one person wearing a mask serve food to avoid everyone handling the same serving spoons
- Use plastic gloves for handling serving spoons
- Sit at small tables with household members sitting together
- Sanitize high touch items such as bathroom fixtures, refrigerator door handle, and other door handles frequently
- Launder everything directly following the event
- Treat pets as you would a human and do not allow non-household people to hold or pet your cat or dog or any other household animal
- Keep others safe by not attending if you have any symptoms, have been exposed to COVID or if you have an increased risk factor
If you decide to travel for the holidays, follow these steps to have a safe and healthy visit.
- Make sure that you are able to travel into the region you are planning to visit and if possible, figure out if you will be able to leave and/or return to your home
- Follow all of the mandates in the area that you are traveling to: wear a mask; stay 6 feet apart; don’t touch your face; wash hands
- Quarantine for 14 days or get a COVID test before your trip so you know you will not be bringing the virus with you
- Bring Clorox wipes to use on public touchpoints in the airport, gas station, or rest stops
- Upon arrival, wash/sanitize hands and launder mask and clothing
Household Only Family Gathering
If you decide to forego the larger family and friends gathering for a household member only gathering, here are ideas to keep the holiday spirit and fun.
- Have kids plan the menu and adults say yes to their suggestions
- Role play and dress up as a member of the family/household and act as that person would. Give a small prize to the person that has the best costume and actions.
- Dress up in costumes associated with your holiday beliefs or practices. For instance, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and elves or Joseph, Mary and the 3-Wise Men
- Play your favorite games and make it interesting by changing or reversing the rules
- Enjoy hot cocoa by the fire and make smores together
- Sing Carols together. You can even record them and send them to friends and family
If you choose to have one or more virtual gatherings here are some creative ways to make the virtual gatherings more memorable and fun.
- Create virtual background for your virtual holiday gathering
- Open Christmas presents while together online
- Virtual Christmas Caroling with everyone singing together
- Share pictures of past holidays
- Each person share their best holiday memory
- Holiday toast with hot chocolate, coffee, bubbly – send or contactless delivery a bottle of bubbly to each person on the call. Snap a selfie of the toast and text it to the group
- Keep your traditions and do them virtually. We have a tradition of playing a different board game every year. This year, we will play virtual Bingo. We created a Bingo board with special family memories
- Wear your holiday sweaters to your zoom gatherings. Have a contest for the ugliest and use the reactions button to award winners
- Have each person share what they are happy about or grateful for that happened in 2020
- Make a custom group t-shirt for everyone to wear during the holidays or virtual celebration as a reminder that the whole family is still a team, even if you can’t be together.
- Secret Snowflake: There are various ways to play but one option is everyone in the family draws names of other extended family members and over the course of a couple weeks sends anonymous letters, small gifts or trinkets then during a virtual gathering you can guess and reveal the Secret Snowflakes
- During a virtual gathering, everyone show and tell about their favorite holiday decoration in the house
- Virtual movie night: Pick a favorite holiday movie and use an application like Netflix Party or Hulu Watch Party to enjoy a holiday classic. Bonus points if you coordinate snacks and drinks!
Here are a few ways to be connected to friends and family members without gathering.
- Send family members an Advent calendar. Each day send a selfie of opening the calendar.
- Recipe share through a group email exchange
- Exchange dishes the day before/morning of the holiday. Remember to wear gloves and do contactless porch delivery
- Virtual museum tours as a group
- Avoid the crowds of Black Friday shopping by shopping online.
- Wear holiday themed PPE to spread joy
- Bake cookies together using Zoom
- Send thoughtful cards, handwritten notes, kids’ drawings and so on
- Create your own holiday song play list and distribute to your friends and family
- Mail your packages and season greetings cards early
- Take the time to hand write all greeting cards for a more personal touch
- Take a drive to see holiday lights in your community. Do some research to find where to go
- Create your Family’s/Friend Group’s “How We Survived the Pandemic of 2020” storybook Include pictures or drawings and “publish” so that you can review it for years to come
- Make gifts for friends and family and easy ones for kids to help with are Mason jars with cocoa mix and marshmallows or chocolate chip/sugar cookies
- Go on a nature walk and gather items to use in homemade crafts
- Use the items you gathered on your nature walk to create items to give to your local nursing home, homeless shelter or food kitchen. Parents and kids can create frosted pine cones by applying glue to the tips of pine cones and then roll the tips in Epsom salt
- Have a coloring contest and encourage household members to use some of the items gathered on the nature walk
- Make your own gift wrap paper. Cut out holiday pictures from magazines, flyers that come in the mail and newspapers. Attach the pictures to plain paper or paper bags
- Make snowmen or snow angels in the snow
- Have snowball fight
- Read holiday books
- Schedule a virtual Santa visit or have a family member dress up as Santa and have a Facetime or other virtual Santa visit
- Make up a dance to your favorite holiday song. Teach the other family members the dance, record it and upload the video to TikTok, Facebook or YouTube
- Take the kids to a hill and go sledding
- Hop on a video call with Santa - Unfortunately, kids might not get to see Saint Nick in person this year — but that doesn't mean they can't chat with him on the phone. Use Santa Club to book a video conversation with Kris Kringle. The $50 experience includes up to three children and even allows you to keep a recording of the video.
- Have a Gingerbread house contest with family members
- Holiday movie marathon with all your favorite holiday movies
- Have a drive-thru Holiday celebration. Ask friends/family to come by a certain day/time to see your house decorated for the holidays and give everyone a small gift
- Set up a Holiday car parade through a neighborhood, nursing home, children’s home etc.
- Practice self-care. Don't forget to be kind to yourself, it’s been a tough year!
When you go to the church, temple, mosque or any other place of worship, keep these tips in mind.
- Sit with your household members and stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Keep your mask on
- Wear gloves
- If someone tries to sit too close, move. Keep in mind that you are in a place of worship and that it is no place to have a “territory” argument because you and your family were there first
- If you do not feel comfortable going to worship, find an online service to attend
Be Generous; Spread Joy
The holiday season is a great time to give to those that are not as fortunate. Here are a few ideas.
- Prepare traditional dishes for your elderly relatives, people that are shut in and deliver in a contactless way
- Volunteer to go grocery shopping for an elderly or shut in person
- Rake a single-mom or elderly neighbor’s lawn. Or shovel their walk and driveway
- “Adopt a Family” and buy presents or a holiday meal for them
- Make holiday cards and deliver to nursing homes or hospitals
- Reach out and touch someone with a phone call
- Donate to your local food shelf
- Buy a meal for the person behind you in a fast-food drive thru
- Use the money you would have spent on traveling to see family members and donate to your charity of choice.
- Elf your neighbors! Grab a few festive items when you’re at the store next. Whether it’s as simple as a few packets of hot chocolate in a mug, or a basket with holiday goodies.
- Create a 2020 gift bag with some hand sanitizer & personal hygiene products and donate to a local shelter.
- Decorate a friend’s lawn, apartment, condo, or townhouse door
The holidays are the perfect time to remember and celebrate the people who are no longer with us. Whether they passed away in 2020, last year, last decade or several decades ago.
- Follow the traditions of your religion to say a prayer or light a candle
- Make a donation to the remembered person’s favorite charity
- Say a toast to the remembered person
- Share stories about the remembered person and supplement with pictures
- Dedicate 2021 to them and make it your best year!
- Don’t add more stress to 2020
- Enjoy the Holiday season
- Spread Joy, not germs/viruses, to those around you
While you don’t want to forget your traditions, there is always room to make new ones. This might be the year to re-establish new ways to celebrate the holidays with less stress, especially the stress of having the perfect holiday. Remember, no one is expecting perfection and 2020 is the year to realign our expectations with the basic expectation of being safe and healthy!
Cindy Pascale is the CEO and co-founder of Vado and has 16+ years of HR, Training & Development and OD leadership experience and 12 years running training, talent management, and assessment companies. She was a 2018, 2019 and 2020 LearningElite Judge for Human Capital Media and an Elearning Industry author since 2018.
Vado is an award winning off the shelf e-learning courseware provider ‘changing the face of learning’ by helping learners apply their training on the job. www.vadoinc.net. Vado is a HSI company.